Shawnee Hills Farm
Shawnee Hills Farm is nestled near the crest of the scenic, rolling Shawnee Hills, in eastern Greene County, southwest of Bloomington. Dr. Shankar Jayaganapathy and wife, Mrs. Melanie McQuinn established their “dream” farm in 2019, having moved back from their Texas farm where they grew high-quality berries and cattle since 2006.
Melanie is the Horticulturalist and General Manager of Shawnee Hills Farm, and holds a minor in agronomy, soils and land use from Purdue, and is a lifelong naturalist. Melanie is a sixth generation Hoosier farmer, having returned to her homeland after a long journey around the world as a frontier explorer. She now looks forward to focusing on opening horticultural frontiers and bringing to your family the finest available, fresh, sustainably-grown, distinctive fruits, many of which cannot be found at the supermarket.
Among their 165 acre homestead of forest, hayfields, and cattle pasture is a newly-established outrageously-diverse, hillside, permaculture orchard and groves that include well over 110 species and 342 varieties of sustainably-grown fruit and nut trees and shrubs. Additionally, our current and anticipated inventory of potted culinary and medicinal herbs far exceeds these totals.
This year, as we are newly entering the local market, we will be serving the Bloomington community with fresh, distinctive, sustainably-grown fruits, as they naturally come into bearing age (berries: rasp-, black-, goji, mul-, elder-, boysen-, lingon-, cran-; vine fruits like grapes and kiwis; possibly some stone fruits (e.g., cherries/peach/plum/apricot), and perhaps some jujube fruits. We shall delight in bringing an outrageously-diverse variety of culinary (e.g., basil, dill parsley, mint, etc…) and medicinal herbs (e.g., chamomile, comfrey, echinacea, etc.), ornamental plants and flowers, bee/butterfly pollinator plants and garden starts (e.g., tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.). Later in the season we will begin to stock dried teas and herbs made from the above herbs and fruit. We shall also bring wildcrafted, foraged produce from our meadows and forests (e.g., wild black/raspberries, cress, possibly some medicinal herbs). We also carry a few annual and perennial vegetables (e.g., rhubarb and asparagus) as produce, though distinctive, sustainably-grown orchard and herb produce and derivatives are our main focus.
Shawnee Hills Farm seeks to become a living model for development and implementation of sustainable methods in agroforestry, silvopasture, and livestock-integrated orchard permaculture through our Shawnee Hills Farm Permaculture Research Station. Our growing methods are truly world-class and innovative, as a paragon of modern permaculture practice, that are both beyond organic and sustainable. We use only natural, organic-sanctioned agents to provide our customers with all-natural, safe fruits, but also integrate horticultural practices that mitigate the need for external inputs, yet maximize the health of our plants and thus the quality of our produce.
In 2020 Shawnee Hills Farm completed the first 2 acre planting phase, resulting in an “outrageously” diverse permaculture orchard and silvo-pasture groves with 169 trees, 218 shrubs, and 20 vines representing 110 species and 342 cultivars. Disease/pest-resistant varieties were selected based on exhaustive cultivar research and cross-integration into various data matrices. The orchard maintains biological terraces with sub-contour, spreader swales integrating fungal-enhancing, woody debris, and mycorrhizal integration. An informal, sustainable spray program and introductory trap monitoring program was initiated in 2020 to provide baseline observations in advance of formal phenologically-defined, sustainable IPM roll-out this year that minimizes chemical inputs, yet maximizes safe, effective, marketable fruit. All agents (pesticide, fungicide, herbicide) are sanctioned for organic use, and judiciously applied according to phenologically-defined metrics. Shawnee Hills Farm Permaculture Research Station (SHFPRS) aims to become a proactive source of critical information and insight as a living model for innovative, multi-story, polyculture, permaculture practice in the Midwest, and a guide to the establishment and growth of a scalable orchard integrating sustainable methods, and with a design that conserves soil, water, nutrients, and ecology through sound conservation principles. SHFPRS seeks to develop, implement, and share knowledge and methods in sustainable permaculture practice through various collaboration with universities and participation in grant programs. Season extension involves multivariate, polycultural, production strategies in orchard produce, plus germination facilities, coldframes and greenhouses for all other herbaceous production (the last under construction). We will also be using row covers to mitigate brood x cicada, BMSB, japanese beetles damage on susceptible herbs and orchard produce.
Knowledge, diversity and sustainability are the pillars that support our business and our guiding principles. We value diversity, not only in our produce selection, but also in the global community we serve, and also value horticultural knowledge and quality of our produce, all of which we carry with us to market for customer’s benefit. We believe this translates to both quality and value for our customers.