Mighty Thundercloud Edible Forest
Smith St, Birdsnest, VA 23307, USA
Thelonius Cook operates Mighty Thundercloud Edible Forest from two locations. One location is half an acre at his home in Hampton, Virginia and the other, seven acres on the Eastern Shore in Birdsnest, Virginia, where his father grew up. The permaculture term Edible Forest combined with his father’s nickname for himself, the Big Chief Thundercloud, were Thelonius’ inspiration for the unique farm name.
The farm is managed as a sustainable ecosystem that builds life into its 7.5 acres of soil. Thelonius uses practices that enhance soil fertility and biodiversity, while reducing the environmental footprint. The outcome is high yields of healthy and tasty food that help strengthen our community and enhance household-level nutrition.
Thelonius studied IT at JMU and although he grew up gardening as a child, he became exposed to sustainable farming while living in Tanzania and Ethiopia, working with an international relief and development organization. He then decided to pursue a Master’s in Practicing Sustainable Development from Royal Holloway University of London.
Bringing his experience in Africa back to the states, Thelonius now plants cultural niche products like callaloo, hibiscus, turmeric, and ginger. He is also busily planting guilds of trees that will produce nuts and fruit and support pollinators, producing in 2 high tunnels, and on 10 75’x75’ plots.
Thelonius works with NRCS to establish long term cover crops, rotates his crops, incorporating mushroom compost and fallow cover crop years, to build the soil. He currently has a thriving CSA, sells at farmers markets, and makes value added products like Ginger Switchel, Hibiscus Jam and baby food that he sells to food distributors and at the markets he attends.