Sogn Farm Project

Putting 2022 to Bed

By Bob | October 25, 2022 |

End of the season 2022

Last Saturday was sunny and warm so I chopped the cornstalks and got the field ready for winter. This is the field where we grew sweetcorn, winter squash and pumpkins – all tidied up. 2022 was a grand season with over 15,000 lbs of food donated to 8 local and 2 regional food banks plus over 667 pumpkins donated to Kenwood Elementary School (harvested, washed and transported by student and parent volunteers). Many thanks to our army of volunteers and contributors – we couldn’t do this without you! (more after the pumpkin photos)

But hold on! It’s not too late! You can still be part of the project: we need to raise about $6,000 to pay our cooperating organic farmer, Dana Jokela of Sogn Valley Farm for his time, equipment, fuel and staff that helped get our crops in the ground. As of this writing we’re well on our way but please go to this GiveMN page and help put the season to bed (donations are tax-deductible and pass through The Food Group, one of our food bank partners).

Tractor view of chopping corn (click to play)

It’s a joy and a privilege to grow and share good food and it confounds me that in our rich, prosperous and fertile state there is so much need, so much hunger. One of our cooperating food banks, Channel One in Rochester, distributes a million pounds of food every month to food banks in southern Minnesota. A million pounds every month!

As long as this is true there is a need for our contributions. Again, please help out if you can, the need is enormous. You can donate on this GiveMN page.

And thank you.

Tons and Tons of Squash!

By Bob | September 28, 2022 |

A perfect harvest day greeted our 21 volunteers (and two dogs) on Saturday. In a bit over 4 hours we harvested nearly 6 tons (!!) of butternut, delicata and acorn squash which was delivered to The Food Group in the Twin Cities and Channel One Regional Food Bank in Rochester. These organizations distribute food to smaller food shelves in the Twin Cities and southeast Minnesota, respectively. Here’s a quick video of the team in action:

Squash Harvest Video

And here’s the hearty harvest crew. Huge thanks to (left to right) Julie (and Jenny), Nat Case, Cara M Rodriguez, Greg Soucha, Sarah Purdy, Mike Muehlbach (and Chuck), Isaac, Kim Muehlbach, Sarah York, Ari, Oswaldo Alvarado, Hans Barkei, Theresa Taylor, Sarah Furniss, Sarah McCarthy, Suzanne Rhees, Robin Murie, Jon Freise, Barb Pratt, Rachel FK, Marjorie Kostouros and Quinn McCauley.

Squash Harvest Volunteers, September 24th, 2022

On Monday and Tuesday I had the honor of delivering the squash to our food bank partners. For the record, the delivered weight of squash was: The Food Group delivery #1: 3,814 lbs; Channel One: 3,806 lbs; The Food Group #2: 4,076 for a grand total (so far) of 11,696 lbs! Here is some of the squash at The Food Group’s warehouse:

A portion of our winter squash in The Food Group’s warehouse

I went back to the farm yesterday and filled the pickup with another several hundred pounds of squash and all this is in addition to the estimated two tons of sweet corn we donated this year.

Of course, none of this would be possible without Dana Jokela of Sogn Valley Farm. Dana’s knowledge and counsel have been essential to our success and his equipment: greenhouses for growing baby squash and corn plants, tractors and tools for tillage and transplanting – have been the backbone of this whole endeavor. Please help us raise funds to help pay for Dana’s time, equipment and – significantly – fuel for his work on this project. Please donate on this GiveMN page.

Thank you!

A Grand Corn Finale 2022

By Bob | September 4, 2022 |
Three workers from Pillsbury United Communities accepting sweet corn donation

Mohamud, Ibsa and Ganga accepting corn donation at the Brian Coyle Center

The Division of Indian Work in Minneapolis

Last Friday saw a stupendous finish to this year’s corn season: a far bigger harvest than I expected after Tuesday’s fabulous haul. The corn was shared with the Division of Indian Work on Lake Street and the food shelf at the Brian Coyle Center (a new location for us but part of Pillsbury United Communities who a a regular collaborator) who were expecting 400 families over the weekend.

Huge thanks to Dulce de la Rosa for organizing the family work crew including Juan, Dan and José plus sister Mayela with her daughter, another Dulce to keep me confused. Welcome to new volunteer Rosa Morales and thanks yet again to our stalwart, never-miss-a-chance Cara Rodriguez.

L-R: Cara Rodriguez, Rosa Morales, Juan, Dulce de la Rosa, Dulce, Mayela de la Rosa, Dan

It was another great day for huitlacoche which both Dulce and Mayela know how to prepare.

Huitlacoche or "corn smut"


When the work was done Juan fired up the grill and Dulce provided carne asada, tortillas, salad and horchata for everyone. Then there was music and even Jenny (our dog) got to join in the fun!

First Fabulous Harvest of 2022

By Bob | August 11, 2022 |

What a day! A cool, cloudy morning and an abundant harvest then the sun shone on deliveries to two food banks. Our stalwart volunteers started at 9:00 and by 10:30 the truck was loaded and ready to go.

L-R Sarah Purdy, Carol Anne Broad, Theresa Taylor (front) Dug Nicols (rear), Cara Rodriguez and Robin Murie

First I went to North Minneapolis and volunteers at Camden Promise Food Bank took all the corn they thought they could use.

Volunteers at Camden Promise Food Bank

The truck was still half full so I called Ethan at Pillsbury United Communities in the Phillips neighborhood who said, “Come on over!” You should have seen the smiles on the volunteers’ faces as they pitched in to unload the corn. Bystanders were texting their friends to quick come and get fresh sweet corn. I was worried that there might be more than they could use but I was told, “This will be gone by 4:00!” That’s my dream: fresh picked corn on family tables the day it’s picked. Thanks to today’s volunteers: Dug Nichols, Sarah Purdy, Carol Anne Broad, Theresa Taylor and Cara Rodriguez and to the volunteers and staff at Camden Promise and Pillsbury United Communities.

Volunteers at Pillsbury United Communities help unload sweet corn

Volunteers at Pillsbury United Communities help unload sweet corn

Volunteers and staff at Pillsbury United Communities with this year’s first corn delivery

Growing and Humming

By Bob | July 25, 2022 |

It’s glorious to watch a field transform from this:

Freshly transplanted squash and corn

Freshly transplanted squash and corn, 15 June, 2022

To this:

Squash plants in a field

Squash plants July 23rd, 2022

The squash is doing well with the recent heat and we have two plantings (10 double rows) of sweetcorn coming along nicely. Looks like the harvest will start in a couple of weeks or so. In short, things are (for now . . .) humming along!

Even though this project is all about sharing food, we’d prefer to share it with food bank patrons as opposed to the critters who live near the farm. This solar electric fence is intended to discourage sampling the corn before it’s ready!

Electric fence around corn

Solar-powered electric fence to protect sweetcorn

And here are a couple more images, just for fun:

Sun setting over field

Freshly transplanted squash and corn June 15th 2022


Squash plants July 25th, 2022

Foodshelf Project 2022 Underway

By Bob | June 29, 2022 |

Transplanting Sweet Corn

The 2022 Foodshelf Project is up and running! We’ve got squash and corn in the ground and here’s a brief video of transplanting corn. Since our farm is organic we don’t use treated seeds. Last year we were hit with seed corn maggot that gobbled up our first planting so we switched to starting plants in a greenhouse then transplanting them as you see here. It’s a lot more work than drilling seed directly into the field, but it’s a way to get a viable crop without resorting to treated seed.

Putting the 2021 Season to Bed

By Bob | November 7, 2021 |
Corn and Squash Fields mowed for the winter

Corn and squash fields mowed for the winter.

Last week a neighbor came by with a flail mower and chopped the remaining corn stalks and what remained of the squash plants. All that organic matter can now decompose over the winter and return to the soil. With that – and a few remaining minor chores – the 2021 Farm to Foodshelf season draws to a close. Thank you to all the donors who took us past our $6,000 goal, to all the volunteers who harvested, processed and delivered carrots, corn, beets and squash, and to the cooperating food shelves and institutions including The Food Group. Huge thanks to Dana Jokela of Sogn Valley Farm – this couldn’t happen without you. Even with the loss of 2/3 of our planned corn planting we still had an excellent season.

Now it’s time to look to the future – the future of this project and the future of our farm. How can the land we now steward best serve our communities? Over the coming months I hope to craft a longer range vision for our farm using what we’ve learned about this place over the last 10 years, and what we’ve learned about communities’ needs over the last couple of years. Comments, thoughts and ideas are welcome! Feel free to comment on this post, email me or get in touch some other way.

Once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

So close!

By Bob | October 29, 2021 |

Thank you to all who have contributed to the Farm to Foodshelf project! We’re so close . . . with two more days to go we only need $400 to reach our $6,000 goal to pay our partner farmer Dana Jokela for all his work, fuel, equipment and so on. Can you help? It’s tax-deductible on this GiveMN page. Thanks!

Dana Jokela and the Sogn Valley Farm logo


2021 Season Video!

By Bob | October 21, 2021 |

With a soundtrack from Smack and Lolo Young Walser, see yourself and your friends in this brief (just over 2 minutes) romp through the 2021 growing season on our farm!

Final Squash Delivery of 2021

By Bob | October 18, 2021 |

It was a sunny Sunday for filling the truck one more time with winter squash and this morning I took the last of the harvest to People Serving People “the largest and most comprehensive emergency shelter for families experiencing homelessness in Minnesota and a dedicated leader in homelessness prevention’, Camden Promise at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in North Minneapolis and  VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People) which was suggested by Jerome Ryan. As ever, I was overwhelmed by the staggering need and grateful for the opportunity to lend a hand. I’ll follow this post with a season summary but, as ever, your tax-deductible financial support of this project via this GiveMN page will help pay our heroic cooperating farmer, Dana Jokela, for his time, expertise, use of equipment, fuel and more. Please help us finish the season with a solid check for Dana! Thank you.