DIY Topsoil, Potting Soil, Fertilizer, and Cardio Workout

The real heroes of Better Farm's dirt mission: Rocky Top Dairy Farm's beautiful cows.
The interns at Better Farm said they needed more dirt. Figures—with twice as many garden rows as last year, oodles of tires to be converted into tomato homes, rotating planting schedules for herbs and salad greens, and flowers such as morning glories seeking big planters from which they'll do their bidding, the main ingredient was in high demand.

We've  already used regular ol' bagged topsoil, dug-out and lovely fresh compost, worm dirt from the Thousand Islands Bait Store, and donated compost manure from friends. So how could we do something educational and new while accessing some black gold for Better Farm's garden?

Simple: shovel it ourselves.

So the other day three vehicles packed to the gills with humans, shovels, and bags headed out to Rocky Top Dairy Farm, a local venue in Redwood owned by the wonderful Eric and Linda Walts.

The farm boasts 30+ cows, more chickens than I can count, and ducks galore (it's a great place to buy local milk and eggs). It also, inevitably, has a lot of manure. Where that stuff's been sitting a while is the richest, blackest earth you can imagine, chock-full of nutrients. Eric was gracious enough to point us in the right direction and we set to work:

Soon Kai Poh (far left) and Jaci Collins (far right)
Soon Kai Poh

After about an hour we had what I think will be more than enough to get us through the rest of the season:
Elizabeth Musoke, left, and Natasha Pietila with the day's bounty.
 So back we went to Better Farm, where we unloaded the dirt just in time: As the last shovelful left the back of Karl's truck, the rains came. Stay tuned for updates on the garden!

Special thanks to Eric and Linda Walts at Rocky Top Dairy Farm, Karl Frizzell for the use of his truck, interns Natasha Pietila, Jaci Collins, Elizabeth Musoke, and Soon Kai Poh; and Sarah Herold, Nicole Caldwell, Fred Ciliberti, and Greg Ciliberti for shoveling. Rocky Top Dairy Farm is located at 45972 Olney Road in Redwood, N.Y.