2014 Festival of Farms Chapter-by-Chapter Recap
Cannon River Chapter
By Mary Ellen Frame
Last year, our Festival of Farms tour was cancelled at the last minute because of flooding, so we rescheduled the same two farms for this year, and Just Food Co-op sponsored a free bus to take people there. The first that morning was Waxwing Farm, owned and operated by Anna Racer and Peter Skold.
They have a 70-member vegetable CSA and participate in the Fulton Farmers Market, where Anna had gone that morning. Peter showed us some of the vegetable fields and the hoop house, which gives them the advantage of being able to sell spinach at a winter farmers market, and other vegetables much earlier than the field-grown ones. They have about 50 laying hens, in a movable coop out on pasture. They also raise a few pigs, one for their own use and the rest are sold to CSA members.
Peter talked about using the pigs to work up weedy ground very effectively. He quoted an old-timer describing pigs as having “a bulldozer on the front end and a manure spreader on the back end.” A new feature of the farm is their very large greenhouse which enables them to get a lot of plants off to a good start. It’s heated by a wood burning furnace at some distance from the greenhouse, using hot water in pipes under a couple of feet of crushed rock which is the floor of the greenhouse.
Sweetland Orchard is owned and operated by Mike and Gretchen Perbix. They’re in the process of renovating an old apple orchard as they operate it. They do have a U-pick business, so that customers can visit the farm and learn about apple growing. They also sell apples and cider wholesale.
Mike took us out in the orchard and showed us some of what they’re doing there, including establishing cider apple trees. He told us that we wouldn’t enjoy eating cider apples; they taste awful, but they’re good for hard cider. He also showed us his flail chopper in action. Every winter the trees have to be pruned, then the prunings are typically either piled up and burned, or hauled off somewhere to be chipped. The flail chopper, pulled behind a tractor, chips the branches in place, and leaves the chips where he wants them, between the rows of apple trees.
It was just beginning to rain as we made our way back to the cidery, where Gretchen and Mike explained the various machines for washing, sorting, chopping and pressing the apples, and the process of making hard cider. Gretchen explained that there are three kinds of cider: the fresh, raw cider, which will only keep a few days in the refrigerator; pasteurized cider, which is good for longer; and the hard cider, which has an alcohol content of 6-8 percent. They bottle some of the hard cider and sell it from the farm and wholesale. Some is sold in bulk to restaurants. It’s becoming quite popular. Then we got to taste samples of four kinds of hard cider.
Thankfully, the rain had held off until we’d gone inside, but then there was a tremendous downpour, roaring on the tin roof.
2014 Festival of Farms Events
For quick links to chapter events, click:
Cannon River (Northfield area events: Waxwing Farm, Sweetland Orchard)
Central (St. Joseph area events: Baker’s Acres, Emmerich’s Produce, Dancing Bears and Common Ground Garden)
Coteau Ridge (Pipestone area: DeWeerd farm tour and pollinator discussion)
Crow River (Hutchinson area events: The Farm of Minnesota, New Story Farm, Living Song Farm)
“Picnic Scientifique” Soil Field Day
Farm Tours at Garden Farme
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat., July 12, 2014
7363 175th Ave NW, Ramsey, MN 55303
- 11 a.m. Garden Walk with the Garden Farme Soil Committee
- 12:30 p.m. Bumblebee & Pollinators Walk with Sarah Foltz Jordan, Xerces Society
- 2 p.m. Garden Walk with the Garden Farme Soil Committee
This event is sponsored by SFA and is hosted by the Garden Farme Soil Committee, who will direct the Garden Walks. Committee members include:
- Aurora McRae-Crerar, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Biology, U of Penn, Philadelphia, PA, will present an introduction to soil genomics
- Christian Klatt, PhD, a researcher with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in St Paul, will interpret soil tests and soil quality in the gardens
- Dr. Matt Miller, PhD in Soil Science at U of MN, will assist in soil chemistry test interpretation
- Steve Bauer, MA in Environmental Toxicology, will coordinate the tours
In addition, Ron Bowen of Prairie Restorations will join the Garden Walks to discuss the recently completed prairie management plan for the farm; and Mary Spivey of Cedar Creek Ecosystem Reserve will share soil research on abandoned fields and restored prairie with two invited students.
Sarah Froltz Jordan of the Xerces Society, an organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat, will lead a tour focused on Garden Farme’s work to protect and enhance bumblebees and pollinators on the property.
Garden Farme has been Certified Organic since 1977, and a family farm since 1913. Owner Bruce Bacon offers specialty market gardening and custom growing for restaurants and caterers, sells wildflower bulk honey, and operates a potted tree nursery, a 25-acre prairie restoration, and a permaculture demonstration site.
Food will be available to purchase throughout the day from QFanatic BBQ, and Chowgirls Killer Catering’s Chef Jerry Fodness will be creating salads with JOHN PALMER assisting sampling greens and Jerry’s dressings all day.
For further information on Festival of Farms, please contact Jerry Ford, firstname.lastname@example.org, 763-244-6659.
The SFA Cannon River Chapter and Just Food Coop are sponsoring tours of two farms in the Webster area as part of Festival of Farms on July 12, 2014. The tour begins at 9:20 a.m. at Waxwing Farm; a free bus ride is available and leaves at 9 a.m. from Just Food Co-op in Northfield.
Anna Racer & Peter Skold
4800 Dent Ave, Webster, MN
The first farm on the tour is Anna Racer and Peter Skold’s Waxwing Farm, a 40-acre diversified farm located in Webster that raises a wide variety of vegetables, laying hens, and market hogs that are marketed through a 70-member CSA and the Fulton Farmers Market in Minneapolis. Waxwing tries to raise its vegetables and animals in the most sustainable way, and although not certified Waxwing follows organic practices. Through crop rotation, cover cropping, and compost applications, Waxwing aims to manage its land in a way that promotes long-term health and diversity. The farm does not use any synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
“At our farm, you’ll get a first-hand taste of how a diverse farm operates,” said Anna and Peter. “We’ll discuss the challenges and rewards associated with managing a variety of farm enterprises. In addition to a tour of our fields, you’ll see our wood-fired, in-floor heated greenhouse as well as our season-extension efforts in our two hoophouses.”
Mike & Gretchen Perbix
26205 Fairlawn Ave, Webster, MN
The second farm on the tour, Sweetland Orchard, is owned by Mike and Gretchen Perbix. In their five-acre orchard, the Perbixes grow 49 varieties of apples, many of them heirloom, not counting the cider apples. They also have a few pears and plums. They sell apples at the Kingfield market in Minneapolis, but most of their business is Pick-Your-Own on weekends in September and October. Since moving to the farm, the Perbixes have planted cider apples and make both fresh and hard cider, which is a growing part of their business. During the tour, visitors will view the orchard and cidery, talk with the farmers about growing practices, and sample the cider.
Just Food Co-op, 516 Water St S, Northfield, is sponsoring the free tour bus. Reservations are required at 507.650.0106.
Come celebrate with local food enthusiasts and farmers at the 5th annual Central Chapter Festival of Farms, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 12. Join the Facebook event to connect with other festival-goers and register online.
This “Stearns County Farm Crawl” includes tours at five area farms and market gardens that produce fruits and vegetables, beef, sheep, eggs and more:
- Bakers’ Acres, 36861 Co. Rd. 9, Avon, MN 56310
- Emmerich’s Produce, 34114 Peach Dr, Albany, MN 56307
- Dancing Bears, 12822 County Road 51, St. Joseph, MN 56374
- Common Ground Garden, College of St. Benedict, 104 Chapel Lane, St. Joseph, Minnesota 56374
- Central MN Sustainability Project Market Garden, College of St. Benedict, 104 Chapel Lane, St. Joseph, Minnesota 56374
These farms sell to chefs, consumers and retail locations from Central Minnesota to the Twin Cities.
Attendees will see where their food comes from and can enjoy live music, a local foods lunch prepared by Chef Daniel Dean from Nick’s Third Floor restaurant, bossy bingo, kid’s activities, and learning from exhibitors during registration and lunch.
A map of the farms will be provided at registration. Tour start times are subject to change slightly. Rain or shine. The event is bike-friendly – all farms are located within three miles of the Lake Wobegon Trail.
Registration includes lunch. Advance registration is $15 individual / $30 family. (At-the-door: $20 individual / $35 family). SFA members attend for free – membership is $30 for individuals, $40 for families. Members are encouraged to make a $7 donation for their lunch
Sponsors, exhibitors, and door-prize donations include: Before It’s Gone coffee shop, the Minnesota Street Market (St. Joseph Co-op), the Good Earth Food Coop, Central Minnesota Credit Union, Forest Mushrooms, Inc., Cherrico Pottery, Dancing the Land Farm, the Sustainable Farming Association, Stonebridge Beef, Stearns County NRCS & SWCD, State Farm of Albany, Coborn’s, and more.
Volunteer needs: If you’d like to volunteer, please contact Lisa at email@example.com. We are looking for someone to plan Bossy Bingo, direct traffic, help with SFA t-shirt sales, etc.
See you there!
COTEAU RIDGE CHAPTER
In the Pipestone area, SFA Coteau Ridge Chapter is hosting its Festival of Farms event from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. July 12 at 1826 70th Ave, Pipestone. Visit the diverse farm of Don and Beverly DeWeerd, who have been farming organically and sustainably for more than three decades.
Dr. Kristine Nemec, Postdoctoral Research Entomologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Brookings, S.D., will present on the research project she is conducting at the DeWeerd farm that studies the response of pollinators and natural enemies to oilseed crops.
Dr. Christina Mogren, Research Entomologist at USDA-ARS in Brookings, will share the research she is conducting on the effects of landscape level habitat on native pollinator diversity and honeybee health.
This event is co-sponsored by OCIA MN #1. A lunch will be served.
The event is free and open to the public, but please RSVP at 507.215.7291 for food-preparation purposes.
CROW RIVER CHAPTER
Here’s an opportunity to tour sustainable farms in the Crow River area, up close and personal. There will be two tour times at three different farms, and it’s all free to the public!
Tours at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at these farms:
The Farm of Minnesota
Dan and Donna Moe
24618 State Hwy 15, Hutchinson, MN 55350
The Farm of Minnesota offers CSA shares, fresh produce at farmers markets, service to local restaurants and co-ops – and you can get their fruits and vegetables right there at the farm. Working land that’s been in their family since 1945, they are in transition to organic, and should be getting certified in 2014. They are passionate about providing great-tasting, highly nutritional food.
New Story Farm
Daniel Zetah & Stephanie Usery
19778 235th St, Hutchinson MN 55350
New Story Farm does not want to be self-sufficient; they want to be interdependent. Farmer/operators Daniel Zetah and Stephanie Usery are actively working toward forming a “cooperative farming village,” a place where others with similar values and visions can work cooperatively on diverse endeavors.
Sharing land with his parents, who have farmed there over 50 years, Daniel’s many skills include welding, fabricating, building & fixing everything from plows to tractors and trucks, while Stephanie is quite adept at wildcrafting and makes teas, medicines and delicious meals from what abounds on the land.
Says Daniel, “Ask any older person that grew up in a small rural town in the 30s, 40s or 50s, and they will tell you all kinds of stories about people working together, sharing tools and equipment, butchering or harvesting together, cooking together, raising each other’s children, laughing, crying, loving. We feel like we deserve that, too, and want to recreate that on this farm.”
Living Song Farm
Jerry Ford & Mariénne Kreitlow
7616 – 25th St. SW, Howard Lake, MN 55349
Living Song Farm operates on land that has been in the Kreitlow family since 1898. Of the family’s 288 acres, Jerry and Mariénne have 70 acres in transition to certified organic, where they are managing 40 acres of rotational grazing for cattle and pastured laying hens, growing garlic, onions and potatoes for market, managing conservation practices through the Conservation Stewardship Program, including wildlife enhancements, native plant propagation, and soil and water conservation, and growing hay for their beef cattle and replacement dairy heifers.
The two tours at this farm each have a different emphasis:
10 a.m. – This tour will be a general overview of the farm for the public and interested farmers, and will feature such things as:
- Gourmet Garlic, and other root vegetables
- Rotational Grazing for cattle and pastured chickens
- The ongoing Conservation Work that started with Mariénne’s father in the 1940s
1 p.m. – This tour is offered as a cooperative venture of Keep Cattle In Minnesota, the Minnesota Dairy Initiative, the Pasture Project, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and SFA, and intended for farmers, ag educators and members of the public who are interested in conservation, soil health and creative ways to run cattle on smaller acreage.
- In-depth looks at a rotational grazing system
- Smaller acreage cover crops
- Raising replacement heifers and direct marketed beef
- Soil & water conservation practices and programs
These tours are sponsored in part by Farm Beginnings, a farmer-led, community based training and support program from The Land Stewardship Project aimed at getting more farmers on the land farming sustainably.
For more information on Festival of Farms in the Crow River Area, contact Jerry Ford, firstname.lastname@example.org, 763-244-6659