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About Us

Who are the partners in The First Muse Partnership? Ms. Calliope Pappadakis and Mr. Jimmy Shope.

We work full-time jobs in addition to our micro-farming endeavor. From her home office, Calliope is an online professor at both HACC and Kaplan University, teaching a variety of courses in the Humanities, Culture and the Arts to undergraduate students, around 5 classes per semester and throughout the summer. Working from her home office has given her the opportunity to pursue this experiment in micro-scale farming and to offer the CSA. Jim runs a small Information Technology consulting business that he started in 2005. He specializes in managing the IT needs of small, local businesses in the Harrisburg Metropolitan Area.

Calliope does most of the work involved with growing the various plants including: planting schedules, sowing, harvesting, soil amendments, watering decisions, weekly CSA deliveries, newsletters and web content. Jim provides the construction, ongoing maintenance, and whatever else is needed for keeping the high tunnel infrastructure in good shape for me to grow in. This includes the computer and web components, our nifty irrigation system, weather station, general troubleshooting, and he also helps me with picking and boxing the shares, weeding duty, and anytime I'm overwhelmed with all the things going on in that little 30'x96' space.

Foggy August TunnelTogether, we make a good team and our work with the high tunnel has strengthened that partnership and allowed us to work with the things we enjoy and for which we have a natural inclination. The hightunnel is more of a pro-hobby that takes up a lot of our free time in the spring and summer months. When we aren’t working at our jobs or working/playing in the high tunnel, we love to get out and hike on some of the beautiful trails Pennsylvania has to offer, cook good things to eat, and have friends out for a visit. 

We are a micro-farm. We don’t grow the plants in an open field, but rather in a more closely controlled environment that resembles a greenhouse – it’s called a high tunnel, and the main difference is that the high tunnel is not heated, except by the sun. The high tunnel roof and walls are made from Solaroof, a greenhouse-grade plastic that extends our growing season by over a month at both the start and the finish; as long as the sun is shining, the high tunnel heats gets up to 40-50 degrees warmer during a sunny day. Raised beds, and the ground inside absorb some of this heat during the day and combined with row covers, straw, and plastic make for greatly extended opportunities to grow really good food in a semi-protected environment; you can see how four-season growing is a possibility!

2009 Tunnel SunsetWe grow our vegetables and flowers in raised beds - it makes for excellent drainage and keeps the soil warmer throughout the cool months.

Within the structure, we have 3,000 square feet of actual space with about 70% of that available for growing. While that sounds like a lot, it fills up quickly. Each year, we’ve become better at arranging and fitting a lot of crops in a small space. We are not nearly as space-challenged as our urban counterparts, but we do our best to utilize the same sorts of techniques and make use of space as efficiently as we can. One technique in particular, you may have heard of, is called square-foot gardening. As an example, the first year we grew garlic, we followed the instructions that came with the bulbs and fit 44 garlic cloves into a 4'x8’ space. This year, we followed the instructions of proven square-foot gardening methods and fit 120 cloves in the same amount of area (4'x8’)!

Hummelstown Spring GardenHow did we get started? When we lived in Hummelstown, PA, together we built a fenced-in 30x30 foot garden space in our backyard in the summer of 2005. Jim did the building and Calliope handled the gardening, having never really gardened before. Noticing that Calliope spent more time outside than she did inside, and couldn't get enough of the soil and plants, he began researching greenhouses - mostly as a dream and something new to learn about. Recognizing the high price of greenhouses, he began looking for an alternative to the traditional greenhouse. That's when he stumbled upon high tunnels and soon discovered that there has been extensive researched conducted on high tunnel farming right here in our own back yard at Penn State's "Center for Plasticulture".

We purchased some books to read and kept our dream alive by looking for land, visiting local farms and researching every related topic online. The first book we read that really added fuel to our dreams was Micro Eco-Farming: Prospering from Backyard to Small Acreage In Partnership with the Earth by Barbara Berst Adams. Others that we refer back to often and have shaped our farming philosphies include The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower's Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers by Lynn Byczynski; Four Season Harvest and The New Organic Grower both by Eliot Coleman. Within just a year or two we found our home here in Clarks Valley and by 2008, we had built the high tunnel and started growing food for ourselves by spring 2009.

We also keep red wiggler worms in order to sustainably reuse our food scraps and in turn get a nutrient rich compost (worm castings) for our raised beds. This year, we're going to try raising French Black Copper Marans chickens for their dark chocolate eggs. Eventually we'd like to add a hive of honey bees and maybe some strawberries to our micro-farm.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Calliope & Jim

Jim and Calliope