Sogn Farm Project

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.

Sunday Giving

By Bob | October 12, 2021 |
Sunday squash harvest group photo

L-R: Barb Rose, Cara Rodriguez, Johanna Gorman-Baer, Chuck Lentz, Julie Young, Jenny

A sunny Sunday morning in Sogn was perfect for this crew to gather another 1,382 pounds of squash, which was donated today (Tuesday Oct 12th) to Second Harvest Heartland (thanks, Heidi Coe). This brings our squash total to 12,743 pounds – over 6 tons! And there is still more in the field . . . Thank you Chuck, Barb, Cara, Julie, Joahnna (and Jenny, of course) and Rina, Hans, Cathy, Mark, Lisa, Sarah and Oswaldo who either arrived too late for squash (we filled those boxes in an hour and a half!) or had to leave before we started but still enjoyed a visit to the farm.

As long as we don’t have a hard frost, the squash remaining in the field can still be harvested. There is still about 50 -75 feet of the field that has barely been touched. This crop has been way beyond my wildest hopes. Thanks everyone!

A forklift unloads squash from a pickup truck

Unloading our squash at Second Harvest Heartland

A fork lift unloads a pallet of squash

Our acorn and delicata squash in the Second Harvest warehouse

Squash Delivery #1 – A Big Surprise

By Bob | October 4, 2021 |

This morning I took the first six pallets from Saturday’s harvest up the The Food Group who will distribute the squash to Food Banks around the metro area. They weighed each pallet. Based on last year’s harvest I was guessing about 500 pounds a pallet or about 3,00o pounds total. The total: 3,979 – almost half a ton more than I expected! Thanks again to all who helped. You did more than you knew!

Offloading Squash Delivery #1

First 2021 Squash Delivery to The Food Group

2021 Squash Delivery Receipt from The Food Group

2021 Squash Delivery Receipt from The Food Group

Squash 2021 – Great Crew and a Huge Harvest

By Bob | October 3, 2021 |
Squash harvest volunteers group photo

Squash Harvest Volunteers, 2021

This was one amazing year for squash. With the help of a huge volunteer crew we gathered north of 9,000 pounds of delicata, butternut and acorn squash. Over the next few days I’ll be bringing these to The Food Group (in New Hope) and Channel One (in Rochester) for distribution to food banks across the Twin Cities metro and Southern Minnesota. In addition to the work we also had a great potluck and music – it was a glorious day! Thank you to: Amy Shaw, Ann Farrell, Ari, Barb Pratt, Barb Rose, Benjamin Domask, Chris Bashor, Chuck Lentz, Dave Underhill, Deb Liang, Dug Nichols, Isaac, Joan Weber, Jon Freise, Kim Muehlbach, Matt Tillotson, Mike Muehlbach, Miriam Kowarski, Oswaldo, Pat O’Loughlin, Patti Nichols, Rachel FK, Sarah McCarthy,  and Sarah Purdy. This harvest was much, much bigger than last year’s so it was a lot more work. Thank you, one and all! (Sorry not everyone is included in the group photo, people came and went during the day.)

Unloading winter squash with a tractor

Dana Jokela offloads the first pallet of winter squash

We couldn’t do all this without help from Dana Jokela at Sogn Valley Farm. Dana’s expertise, help and equipment have been essential to this project. As you anc imagine, tractors, planters, cultivators and fuel are expensive. Please help me raise funds to pay Dana for all of his contributions. You can make a tax-deductible donation on this GiveMN page.

Loading squash in the field

Volunteers loading winter squash for food shelves.

Musicians playing at the squash harvest

Pat, Bob, Chris and Amy playing some tunes at the 2021 squash harvest

Musicians at the squash harvest

Chris, Bob, Amy and Pat play tunes during the 2021 squash harvest potluck

Big Crew, Big Harvest

By Bob | August 31, 2021 |

A perfect morning for harvesting and what a group of friends! Thanks to (L-R) Cara, Barb, Vi, Miles, Samson, Roger, Chuck, Barb, Eric, Robin, Dug and Daisy plus (not pictured) Jo, Julie and Jenny. Today’s harvest supplied three food banks: Sabathani, Joyce Uptown and Pillsbury United Communities.

Eric, Dug, Daisy, Julie and Barb (and Samson in Barb’s shadow!) picking corn for food banks

Delivering corn to Pillsbury United Communities

For perspective, Matthew Ayres, director of the Joyce Uptown Foodshelf, told me they serve about 450 families per month a total of around 36,000 pounds of food. Joyce is the smallest of the three food banks who took corn today. According to the StarTribune  there are about 350 food banks in Minnesota that collectively served 3.8 million people in 2020 (a 7% increase over 2019). Hard to imagine that a state with so much farmland has so much hunger.