Agriculture / Farming Posts

Fairhaven Farm: Segment 1 of Northern Roots 2: Revitalizing Local Food in the Western Lake Superior Region

Local food is where it’s at! This video profiles Fairhaven Farm, an organic farm featuring an outdoor pizza oven located near Duluth. Information about how to sign up for community-supported agriculture shares is at fairhaven.farm.

Fruit of Newbie Fields

When you start a pick-your-own raspberry farm, people say, “You must eat a lot of berries.” The answer is no and yes.

No, because to me our beautiful fruit tastes faintly of stress and anxiety. Farming is a like skydiving: You leap out of a plane wearing a parachute made of all your spring labors and investments — and it will deploy only if conditions are perfect.

Otherwise, you’ll face a financial splat. That’s the very real danger we faced when my husband Jason and I decided to diversify our chicken farm in Wrenshall by starting Farm LoLa, the pick-you-own berry wing of Locally Laid Egg Company.

And this year the stakes feel higher. We’ve invested in an expanded irrigation system; set posts and wire trellis, hired a larger crew and pruned and weeded (and weeded some more). In a lot of ways, the work has paid off.

Though only our second season, we have eight times the berries of last year. Over three acres that equates to some 15,000 lbs. as estimated by our expert, Dr. Thaddeus McCamant. He believes it has something to do with our sandy soil, organic amendments (like “Liquid Squid”) and fruit-friendly climate provided by Lake Superior.

This all leads to what my mother-in-law would call “a good problem to have.” We are now tasked with getting as many of these berries off the field before they go to waste or attract pests or are demolished by a weather event. All of which is real and could happen at any moment. The other day, a big storm was rolling in over the field and I said angrily, “You’d better not hail on this crop!” And it struck me that I’ve become a woman who yells at clouds.

Veggies by Subscription: CSA signup season underway in Duluth

Carrot - ParsnipIt might seem too early to be thinking about fresh local vegetables. The growing season around Lake Superior doesn’t generally start until May, but area farmers are already busy planning their crops and ordering seeds. The signup period has begun for most farms offering community supported agriculture subscriptions. The online CSA Signup Day is today, Feb. 24; Duluth’s CSA open house is March 19.

Farm shares offer a direct method for consumers to access fresh food from local growers. Members buy a seasonal “share” from the farm. During harvest time, which is generally mid-June to mid-December, members go to a designated spot each week to pick up a box of mixed seasonal produce.

Making America Great Again

It wearies me to see hordes of people so downcast from something as small as a presidential election. Your time and energy can be put to better use where you may be of real influence: your neighbors and community.

I’m taking a two-pronged whack at getting some of you folks out of your funk. I wrote this column in the Duluth Budgeteer for you, because What this country needs most is you.

imgresFinally, I made a nice circuit through the surrounding countryside yesterday, and believe that many of our country’s problems can be fixed if we’ll simply focus on feeding and entertaining ourselves as a community. Our city and surrounding rural area need one another to thrive. Read more about Making America Great Again at Ed’s Big Adventure.

Charlie Parr in his own words

Charlie on easel

Charlie Parr strolled into the neighborhood yesterday—barefoot, even though it was cold and damp. We had a nice conversation on my podcast about the hardships and joys of life on the road, dropping out of school, and how he slowly got into making music as a vocation. He’s doing what he loves, and that’s what I’m trying to do: as an author, and an urban farmer. My new urban farm, Tiny Farm Duluth, is slowly coming together. The soil of formerly wasted space within the city of Duluth has been tilled, and seeds will soon be sown.

Duluth Bread CSA

Photo by Rolf Hagberg

Duluth’s Best Bread croissant
Photo by Rolf Hagberg

Would you like to get bread and croissants every week and support local foodways? Duluth’s Best Bread is starting a community-supported agriculture program this month.

The way a CSA works is that you pay a fee up front and in turn are guaranteed bread every week — including occasional special loaves not usually offered, like challah, rye or whole wheat. All you do is come pick it up.

A tale of three organic farms defying the odds, and one on the way

NH 1

I am enjoying a short stint as an author-in-residence at the Food Farm. What fascinates me most about my stay here is that there are several young couples in their 30s choosing organic farming as a legitimate career and lifestyle, though they endure long odds and poverty wages. Learn more about a cross-section of this remarkable community that provides the Duluth area with great food here. Today I was amazed during a short visit at Northern Harvest Farm, and also at Stone’s Throw Farm just across the street. The perseverance of these people is unbelievable. There are lessons here for all of us in choosing our lifestyle rather than letting one choose us.

Our very own “odd couple” produces food and art organically

Annie and Janaki

Annie Dugan and Janaki Fisher-Merritt are two of the most fascinating individuals I’ve ever met. When considering that they are forged together in the partnership of marriage, farming, and as catalysts of unique art, the combined effect is like lightning captured in a bottle. Duluth is beyond fortunate to have them influencing our lives in unique and whimsical ways. Learn about the masterminds behind the Food Farm, Free Range Film Festival, the Duluth Art Institute, and more, here.

Northern Roots: Growing Food in the Western Lake Superior Region

A student-created documentary profiling regional food production in the Western Lake Superior region that includes a 15-county area in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. Students in an anthropology course called Ethnobotany filmed, wrote and edited four segments on local food producers.

Local farmers connect with local eaters in person and online

Ten local Community Supported Agriculture farmers gathered at Zeitgeist Arts on March 14 to connect with prospective customers and to promote the growth of the local foods movement.

Sustainable Agriculture

I’m moving to Duluth at the end of this school year (about 10 months) and I am trying to make a plan for some gardening I intend to do. My personal garden will likely be north of Duluth, in the Island Lake area. I know that the soil there isn’t great and that I will be required to haul in some of my own. I also know that Duluth would be in USDA hardiness Zone 3, so that obviously dictates what I will be able to grow.

My question is: what crops have you had success growing in the Duluth area? Any tips or tricks that might help? I’m passionate about returning to localized food production, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

What’s Duluth Got To Do With It?

Join Food & Water Watch and Community Action Duluth-Seeds of Success on Friday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. to talk about the unique role the community of Duluth can play in a Fair Farm Bill. We’ll be presenting on what Duluth stands to gain and lose from the next Farm Bill reauthorization with regard to food access, environmental stewardship, and rebuilding infrastructure for local food systems. What’s more, we’ll talk about how Duluth citizens can get involved and take action!

7pm on Friday, Aug. 19
Chester Park, 15th Ave. E. & Fifth St.

Food from Scratch for the Zenith of the Unsalted Sea: Creating a Local Food System in Early 20th Century Duluth

How do you create a locally harvested food system for a city of 100,000? This question is being asked presently in Duluth and the broader western Lake Superior region as well as in many other cities across the United States. It was also an urgent local question a century ago.

New Food Regionalism Lecture Series at University of Minnesota Duluth this Spring

Unless otherwise noted, speaker sessions begin promptly at 3:45 p.m., UMD Library Rotunda (4th Floor).

Thursday, Feb. 3: “The American Good Food Movement: Communities, Health & Social Change,” Maggie Adamek, Terra Soma Consulting

Permaculture event @ UMD (March 27)

Permaculture classes are coming to Duluth this Saturday! Get inspired! Only $15 for three sessions of classes.

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture Duluth (March 27)
Click to register online

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!