I’m thinking about next year.

If you’ve been down to visit you may have noticed that our tillable acreage naturally falls into four or five fields as you can see in the aerial photo below. At the moment all but the smallest field are in alfalfa – good for organic transition.  It’s now been over a year since prohibited chemicals were applied to the land but it will take two more seasons before we can attempt organic certification. We can leave the fields in alfalfa and take several cuttings of hay each year . . .

Field Map

Aerial photo from Goodhue County GIS

. . . or maybe try something [what might that be?]  else.

What will the story of this farm be? What can grow beautifully here? In the next few years I’d like to have a number of experiments running on the land: different folks trying particular crops/approaches to see what works well. This year a Hmong farmer grew corn and squash. At the moment there is one person proposing to start a CSA on a portion of the land next year. My neighbor to the north has a vineyard and winery. He wants me to grow hops (and I have to say I’m intrigued by the notion – but it takes a lot of expensive infrastructure). Also on my mind are crops that can be dried for winter use: corn for cornmeal, beans for drying.

The soil is rich and deep with good mineral balance and plenty of organic matter. Should be good for many things (we had a soil test last spring). The tillable portions are identified in the USDA soil survey as Kennebec silt loam, Lindstrom silt loam and McPaul silt loam. You can check it out here (though it takes a few minutes to figure out the system – see below).

So how can we get several projects going? I wonder if there are folks (especially young farmers!) who would like to bring me proposals to take a field or a portion of a field and try something: CSA, hops, small grains, particular veggies – something they really want to do. I can provide the land, access to electricity and water, some on-site storage etc.. I don’t yet have a tractor or equipment, but that may change. With our land and infrastructure and their (your?) ideas and effort perhaps some beautiful thing(s) might grow.

 


NOTE: To use the USDA system, zoom in to Minnesota, then Goodhue County, then Warsaw township, then the farm by clicking repeatedly on the map – takes me 11 clicks. Once you have the farm filling the window, define an ‘Area of Interest’, AOI using the red polygon AOI tool on the map: click to mark the boundaries, double-click to finish. Then click the “Soil Map” tab on the top and you’ll get the details.

3 Comments

  1. Jennifer Woods on November 8, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Goodhue County?!?! That’s where most of my German ancestors settled in Minnesota — but they were mainly in and right around Red Wing! If we ever do my dig up ancestors trip, we’ll have to arrange to meet up and see your farm! (my other Minnesotans (sp?) were in Dakota County)



  2. Trenne Fields on November 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Bob,
    What kind of rainfall does the Sogn Valley get? Is the land irrigated, or is there a well or access to other water? That could be a huge determining factor, too!

    Trenne



  3. Chuck Lentz on November 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Bob:
    I will be following this with interest. My oldest daughter is accumulating knowledge and experience in organic, sustainable practice farming. She has worked in a couple of small and mid-size garden-to-restaurant operations out in Washington state. She has also worked at a couple of CSA operations: one in Connecticut and a large one, Featherstone Farm, near Rushford, MN. She briefly worked on an organic, truck farm also out in Washington state. This past year she tended the large garden at a very “nice” eco type resort/retreat in Leavenworth, Washington where she is currently living. In addition, she had her own plot where she grew things for the local farmer’s market. She is smart, a real hard-worker and talks as if she would like to come back to Minnesota/Wisconsin to farm someday (if only I could get her to sing more; she has the musical ear). Since, I don’t want to encourage her to move away from Leavenworth too soon — it is a good community of folks who watch out for each other — I want to stay up with how you are doing on your land so that if, someday, she does decide to come back this way, and if your land might still need another tending hand, I could suggest she get in touch with you.

    Hope all is well. Look forward to the next time we get to sing together.

    Chuck Lentz, of The Eddies



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