1.Four_generations_of_Clays 2.Haying_Old_Farm 4.Papa_Big_Lake_just_built 5.Rows_of_lettuce 7.Old_Green_Barn 9.sunrise

Deep red from cold nights and sunLawson Calhoun's son, Clay Calhoun, had left home for college just at the time the cattle and so much of the land had been sold. He spent time in his early twenties working on an organic farm in California that, among other things, supplied produce to Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Alice Waters, chef/founder of Chez Panisse, was passionate about finding and using only the freshest, most carefully grown and handled local produce, and her focus on farm fresh food was receiving national attention. It seemed to Clay that providing top quality produce for Atlanta restaurants might provide a viable future for Ashland Farm.

In 1984 he moved back to the farm. At that time in Atlanta, restaurants were not used to the idea of buying directly from local farmers. Not unlike his father, he had to figure everything out from scratch. The climate, the growing conditions, the still traditional Atlanta restaurant market and the lack of support systems all presented new challenges.

He experimented widely with many varieties of tomatoes, potatoes, lettuces, melons, peppers, squashes, corn, berries, wild foods, etc., looking for what grew well in this area, which varieties had the best flavors, and what the chefs wanted.

(All crops are weather dependent, but melons can break your heart. To get the full, subtle, sweetness and flavor of a melon it has to ripen on the vine. If it's dry in the last stages of ripening a melon can become superb, but rain can cause it to swell and split. Rain at just the wrong time can ruin almost an entire field of melons.)

In 1985 Guenter Seeger, Atlanta's first Michelin rated chef, came to the Ritz Carlton looking for sources of food with the kind of quality and freshness Clay wanted to offer. When one of his purveyors brought Guenter to the farm the excitement was mutual. At the time we were selling through a wholesaler, but Guenter wanted what we had the day we harvested it. At his request in 1987 we bought a small refrigerated truck and began delivering directly to Atlanta restaurants.

20-moving pipe
Rows of staked tomatoes Moving irrigation pipe Harvesting "teardrops" 

 

Originally, the crop our first chef customer, Guenter Seeger, was most interested in was lettuce.  Over the years lettuce became our main crop.

 

A box of mixed lettuces ready to deliver                                  
Mixed lettuces boxed and ready The Lettuce Field

 Then, in the late 1990's, again at a chef's request, we began experimenting with "microgreens" in our greenhouse. Our green house manager at the time, Sandy Copeland, took on the job of researching what the Chef's wanted, and how to grow them.

Sandy Copeland Micro Mix 
Sandy Copeland
Micro Mix 

Microgreens were dramatically different from field grown produce in almost every imaginable way, but they were intriguing, immediately popular, and they spent their entire short life inside the greenhouse. It was a relief to have something we grew protected from instant death by weather. Within five years, to our complete amazement, these microgreens became our most successful product.

PLANNING for the FUTURE: By 2001 we had been growing for Atlanta restaurants for more than fifteen years. Our name was on the menues of some of the best restaurants in Atlanta and, as a business, Ashland Farm was established and successful. But Clay had not come back from California to create a business; he had come back to take care of the farm and to preserve it for the future. Realistically, we knew a ten acre field and a greenhouse could not be expected to support and protect the entire four hundred and thirty acres of Ashland Farm in perpetuity. We knew we would need to involve both more of the farm and more people in the farm in order to preserve the farm.

 

-See "A Place for Horses"

Position cursor over map to magnify trails, pastures, arenas, and other points of interest.

The next step in our effort to protect the farm was to find a way to involve more people.  The underlying assumption was (and remains) that the more people there are who care about the farm, who are invested in its long term survival, the more likely it is to survive.  Our produce business used only a small part, around ten of the farm's more than four hundred acres.  We needed a way for the whole farm to support its own continuation.  

In early 2001 our daughter's riding coach, Pam McNair, asked "Why don't you build a boarding facility?  I'll help...."  We were driving.  I answered "We've thought about that....."

We didn't say much for the rest of that trip,... but we broke ground for the barn only a few months later.

Building The Grey Barn was a wonderful experience in itself.  My sister, Libby McClintock, was the architect.  She wove together Pam's vision with the ideas and suggestions that grew out of all the many ensuing conversations , then shaped it all into the beautiful barn so many of us love. 

Barn Skeleton Pouring Concrete Ready for horses

In January, 2002 we opened The Grey Barn to boarders with Pam McNair as opening manager and trainer. 

Although Pam only stayed at Ashland for a little over a year, without her The Grey Barn would not exist, and who knows when - or if - we would have found a way to open Ashland Farm to the world of horses.  

The Grey Barn

Almost from our opening day we were looking for more ways to open the farm to our local riding community. 

Pony Club Annual Mock Hunt (Pony Clubbers are both fox and hounds.)We invited our local pony club, The Hilltoppers, to hold monthly meetings here.  (Once a year Hilltoppers hosts a "Mock Hunt" (photo to the right).  A senior pony clubber is chosen to be the fox.  Several upper level pony clubbers are hounds.  In this picture, the Master of Hounds is, in "real life," a Master of Hounds with the Shakerag Hunt Club.)  

In 2003 Ann Haller, who had been part of the development team from early on, became Ashland Farm's primary riding instructor and advisor.  With her help we began hosting small schooling shows.   The shows were fun and very popular, but limited by only having one arena.  In 2005 we decided to build a facility specifically for these schooling shows.  Designed by Roger Haller, who designed the 1996 Olympic Equestrian Cross Country Course, we created two regulation, sand, dressage arenas, a large, sand, show jumping arena, and a cross country schooling field with banks, ditches and a water jump.  (See photos at Schooling Facility.)

Rick, the voice of WRIK radio


For the last ten years we have been hosting clinics, schooling shows, and hunter paces.  Managed by Ann Haller and staffed by great volunteers these events have been a wonderful way to share the farm with the riding community.

Late in 2010 Ann resigned from her active role with Ashland Farm as Primary Instructor and Show Manager and became a kind of "professor emeritus".  She continues to teach, is especially active with the pony club, and she and Master still patrol the trails.....

2011 was a year of transition for Ashland Farm.  With Ann's retirement as Show Manager we stepped back, temporarily, from hosting shows and began to focus on opening the farm more widely through a membership program.  As it turned out, life intervened, and it took us much longer than we expected but in early 2012 we were able, finally, to launch the Ashland Farm Riding Membership - the beginning of a new chapter for Ashland Farm.  Late in 2012 we committed to hosting our 9th Annual Haunted Hollow Hunter Pace with the intention of starting to host schooling shows again.



See  "The Idea of Membership"   

Our Schooling Show Facility opened in 2006 and was designed by Roger Haller, who designed the 1996 Olympic Equestrian Cross Country Course.

It includes 2 regulation, sand dressage arenas, a large, lighted, sand show jumping arena and a cross country schooling field with banks, ditches and a water jump.

These schooling facilities and the over 20 miles of trails are available to boarders and members.

2 drsg arenas w gy bdr
Debbie and Sky jumping out of waterr w gy bdr Leap of Faith
Cross Country Field
water jump

Riding Membership

The Grey Barn, Ashland Farm's boarding facility from 2002 to 2022, has been leased to Sleepy Star Farm LLC, dba Sleepy Star at Ashland Farm, and is managed by Caroline and Davis Templeton.    

sandy training terroThere is a covered arena with GGT footing and mirrors.The arena has a fabric roof which creates a lovely light, and is warmer in winter and significantly cooler in summer.

Boarders continue to have full, Gold Benefit  access to Ashland Farm's membership and schooling show facilities: two 100 x 300 dressage arenas, the Hilltop (show jumping) arena, the XC schooling field, the mowed conditioning tracks, and the many miles of trails (see next page).

For information about boarding contact: Caroline Templeton
 

grey barn nightThe barn looks so welcoming at night!

Next:  Schooling and Show Facilities