The Farming Team
Led by Peyton Cypress, the team at Southall maintains 15,000 square feet of traditional greenhouses, a nearly two-acre kitchen garden featuring heirloom vegetables, rotational grazing and permaculture areas, a terraced and espaliered hillside apple orchard (with more than 43 varieties of apples growing), more than four million honeybees in the Southall apiary, and a three-acre parcel dedicated to seed-saving and large format crops.
Peyton has seen first-hand how a full-circle farm operates synergistically, from planning to harvest and distribution through his career developing farm programs. The last few season’s Peyton has taught at the farm school and helped to build Francolin Farm’s Gardens.
Through a stint with Greener Roots in the hydroponic greenhouse at Southall, he was introduced to our team, and began a conversation that lasted many months before each determined that Peyton’s talents were meant to be on this farm. As Southall’s farm manager, he is responsible not only for the property-wide agricultural production needs, but also for data collection and long term analysis and planning.
Spurred by an article in the local newspaper describing the plight of honeybees, Jay Williams began pursuing a beekeeping hobby that quickly turned passion and career. Today, Jay manages millions of bees across Middle Tennessee, including approximately four million in six apiaries at Southall.
Throughout the season, Jay and the beekeeping team are always looking for the chance to show guests the inside of a honeybee hive and to share their love for the ways in which these amazing insects help sustain the circle of life at Southall. For Jay, it’s a chance to celebrate and advocate for greater pollinator stewardship.
Joshua Martin left Hawaii for middle Tennessee, where he found Southall, and a 1,300-tree apple orchard to replace the groves of mangoes, bananas and coffee trees he tended up and down the Kona Coast.
At Southall, Josh is responsible for maintaining 40 different types of heirloom apples, many of which historically haven’t been grown in this climate. The tall spindle espalier technique, where the trees are pruned and trained for maximum air flow, space efficiency and fruit production, is relatively new, and Josh works to ensure the trees are healthy throughout the season, with an eye toward a harvest season that lasts from August to November and includes several tons of fruit.
The built environment depends on the natural for sustainability, and that nexus created the formation of Jeffrey Orkin’s career. He earned a degree in landscape architecture and contracting from Mississippi State University before working as an urban land planner with noted developer Gresham, Smith & Partners, where he designed urban streetscapes and innovative stormwater management systems.
At Southall, the hydroponic greenhouse operated by Greener Roots Farm gives the night sky a gentle, pink glow and produces perfect greens for guests. Jeffrey grows herbs and leafy greens exclusively because they don’t require pollination and thrive in a hydroponic environment. They can be produced reliably year-round, and they form the basis of so many dishes—the demand for a few hundred pounds of lettuces can be met each week, regardless of weather. Everything is grown without the use of pesticides, which requires strict control over access to the facility. Guests are encouraged to peek through the windows and see how the vast root systems reach deep into the pools to soak up and create life.