Nestled just a few blocks from the home of the Alderson Broaddus Battlers football stadium is the fifteen acre Mt Hollow Farm. Ellie and her husband Dave have converted Ellie’s family cattle farm into a thriving farm that could grace the cover of Mother Earth News Magazine.
We visited Ellie and Dave after some heavy rains and passed some flooding along our route there. The couple appreciates the rain, as they have the capacity to harvest up to 70,000 gallons of rainwater! This comes in handy for their three high tunnels and numerous hydroponics experiments they have going around the farm. They lovingly call rainwater storage system “the tank farm.”
Dave has constructed an A-frame hydroponics system capable of growing up to 300 heads of lettuce in a little over 3 weeks. When Ellie tells you on any given Sunday that she has bins of lettuce, she’s not joking! The A-frame isn’t their only hydroponic set up, though. They are currently experimenting with something called Dutch buckets and also have several five gallon buckets set up growing squash. With no shortage of water to manage their systems, hydroponics has become an appealing venture for the couple. Unlike conventional in the ground growing, hydroponics allows the grower to maintain a constant source of water and nutrients to the plants roots, allowing for faster growth.
The couple also has a field of garlic roughly half the size of a football field, paw paw trees, mulberry trees, blackberries, blueberries, Malabar spinach, their infamous purple beans, and numerous herbs and so much more. The day we visited, Dave was preparing for the delivery of another high tunnel. For a market grower, a high tunnel has become almost a necessity.
Ellie and Dave look forward each year to the Mother Earth News Fair in September at Seven Springs Resort in PA. I have seen them there and even attended a few sessions with Ellie in the past. ((If you haven’t been before, it’s a great event to see and less than two hours away!)) The farm keeps them busy during the warmer months of the year, but the winter has Ellie as a ski instructor at Snowshoe Resort, a position she has lovingly held for the last 31 years. I’m sure that even while she’s skiing, her mind is on this delicious Malabar spinach.