Looking to Next Spring

By Bob | November 8, 2011 |

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.

Way, Hey, Up She Rises

By Bob | November 7, 2011 |

Thanks to Chad and Mike, Emery and Dennis! We have trusses up, a roof, basement stairs and interior walls. With some windows and doors we’ll be able to work on the interior no matter what happens with the weather . . .  Up in the woods I’ve nearly completed the snowshoeing/mushroom trail. Also thinking about the next growing season, but more about that in the next post.


View from the North on 5 November, 2011

Chad building

Chad building the interior walls

Mike with the cellar stairs

Mike with the cellar stairs.

Building and Community

By Bob | October 23, 2011 |

What an amazing weekend! In a complex two-day dance, folks from multiple communities came together at the farm to build, sheath and raise all the walls for the new farm office.

My heart was near to bursting as I watched people with different levels of skill, experience and physical strength working together in elegant cooperation: encouraging, respectful and playful. While having fun and enjoying friends old and new, I’m guessing a lot of folks learned things about building, wood, tools and more. Special thanks are due to the more experienced framers and carpenters who patiently helped the rest of us make meaningful contributions. The place glowed with a warm spirit that filled my heart – words can’t capture how it felt. I am enormously fortunate  to know so many big-hearted folks and to get to share experiences like this.

Thank you, each and every one not only for the hard work and great results, but even more for the inspiring friendship, spirit, generosity, fun and music you brought to the Sogn Valley this weekend.

Farm office beginnings

By Bob | October 8, 2011 |

Big big thanks to John, Chad and Tracey for getting the sill, rim joists, floor joists and subfloor in in just a day. Wow, do I have skilled, hard-working and talented friends (who are darn good company to boot!).