Located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, Southall Farm and Inn is a 325-acre working farm that doubles as a resort. Designed by the award-winning hospitality-focused design studio Indidesign, Southall features modern design and comforts while allowing guests to experience farm living.
Southall’s key focus is to maximize sustainability without compromising comfort and elegance. Hence, various aspects of the project’s design and function are tied to sustainable practices. These include the use of renewable energy sources, water conservation, utilizing responsibly and locally-sourced natural materials, using smart technology for efficiency and adopting eco-friendly agricultural practices.
The Inn features 62 guest rooms and suites, with an additional 16 cottages that celebrate the beautiful surroundings. Each space allows for a connection to the rolling hills and lush forests through large windows and/or porches from which to view the landscape. Besides these rooms, the resort also features shared spaces where visitors can congregate, dine and relax. These include multiple lounges, restaurants and spas for guests to enjoy.
One of the key design elements is the use of natural materials for architectural details which have been designed and crafted by local artisans. These include stone fireplaces, exposed wood beams and woodland-inspired furniture and fixtures. By featuring the work of local craftsmen through sustainably-sourced materials from the area, these elegant details create a connection to the gorgeous site. The spaces evoke a countryside feel with a luxurious, modern twist. This design strategy intends to honor the site and celebrate local talent and craftsmanship, without sacrificing opulence and modernity.
The Farm at Southall seeks to inspire gratitude for the land we depend on for living and sustenance. Because of this deep reverence, the farm is at the heart of Southall and its functions.
However, the farm was not always in its lush, thriving state. In fact, for many years, extreme weather cycles, overgrazing and destructive farming practices resulted in significant soil erosion. Additionally, a railroad once ran through the area. This resulted in many interventions to channelize the nearby waterbodies to best suit the railway.
Disrupting the natural flows of the local waterbodies led to much soil erosion. This is because the channels would dry up easily and flood during heavy rains. The flooding would be exacerbated by heavy runoff from the hills, which also led to property damage in the area. Finally, through extensive efforts, experts were able to restore Polk Creek and its tributary, while allowing it to draw water from the underground springs for consistent, year-long flow without seasonal drying or flooding.
Today, the farm is made up of various components located alongside the streams. These include spaces to grow fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as an apiary to support healthy crop pollination.
The Growing Spaces
Gardens can be found throughout the property and are the primary produce sources for the kitchens. They feature several varieties of heirloom crops, grown with a blend of conventional agriculture practices and hydroponics.
The gardens are complemented by the greenhouses. These are located near the entrance of Southall and provide optimal growing conditions for various crops. The first greenhouse houses annual food producers, such as native trees, shrubs, vines and flowers. It also features a classic French orangerie with a variety of citrus species. The second greenhouse utilizes hydroponic and aquaponic systems for production. In fact, it is so efficient that it yields hundreds of pounds of nutrient-rich greens every week!
The Southall Orchard is home to roughly 1,300 apple trees and overlooks Lake Mishkin. The Orchard features 43 varieties of apples, which have been bred for generations to develop unique flavor profiles for different purposes, including for use in ciders. Additionally, the trees are grown on trellises for optimized airflow and sunlight to produce high-quality fruit.
Over four million honeybees are spread across the seven apiaries at Southall. They are crucial to the well-being and running of the farm, as they increase harvest yields by pollinating various crops. These bees also produce Southall’s award-winning honey, which has received the highest honors twice. This honey has a rich flavor profile, as it is only harvested once every two seasons.
Given their important role at Southall and the world at large, the farm’s Pollination Program team is working to reverse recent drops in bee populations. The team shares their love for the bees with guests and highlights the vital role the pollinators play at Southall and ecosystems at large.
A luxurious countryside getaway
Despite being a luxury resort, Southall takes pride in its farm origins and sustainable agricultural practices, which allow it to exist in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem. Through immersive experiences and activities, Southall’s visitors are encouraged to appreciate the beautiful landscape without having to compromise on comfort and pleasure.
Photography by Taggart Sorensen