Twin Oaks Community

Pam Dawling, Twin Oaks Community. Credit: Twin Oaks Community

We’ve tried leaving more things to overwinter because it doesn’t get as cold as it used to, but it’s a bit trial and error because we just never quite know what’s going to happen. Winter weather in Virginia is all over the place. It just seems more that way recently.

Pam Dawling

Twin Oaks Community

Southeast Region | Louisa, VA

Main Product: Vegetables

Scale: 4 acres under management

Featured Resilience Behaviors:

Add protected growing space, monitoring.

For more than half of her nearly 50 years of farming, Pam Dawling has grown food at Twin Oaks, an intentional community and ecovillage of about a hundred people located in central Virginia near Louisa. Pam managed vegetables and fruit production on the community’s organic farm, which also produces dairy, beef, poultry, honey, herbs, tree fruit, mushrooms, seeds, ornamental flowers and forestry products. The garden produces a diverse mix of vegetables and berries on about 3.5 acres of cultivated fields, raised beds and undercover in a high tunnel. Crop rotation, cover crops, and the application of compost, plus careful attention to season extension have been key production practices in the market garden. In 2017, Pam’s role shifted from manager to support staff at the garden, but she brings her full range of experience at Twin Oaks to this story.

Pam’s early experiences as a member of World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms introduced her to organic farming as a healthy way to live — as well as to the difficulties of solo farming — and sparked her interest in living and working collectively. Growing for a community food supply allowed Pam to center vegetable production on crops with high food value, rather than high market value. She also managed production to include specific crops favored by community members and to meet community needs for vegetables throughout the year. To achieve these goals, Pam focused production on a select group of crops: leafy greens like lettuce, chard and kale that can be grown year-round using some combination of field and protected growing space; summer crops that are equally tasty fresh or processed such as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and peppers; and root crops like sweet potatoes that are easy to store with minimal processing for use throughout the year.

Want to read more? You can find the full version of this story in the Second Edition of Resilient Agriculture, available for purchase here.