About the farmer’s cooperative and a word from coop member, Rodrigo Cala

Farm friends:

As many of you know we have spent the past year working on starting a producer’s cooperative with several Latino-led farms and former Stone’s Throw owners Emily and Klaus, now of Whetstone Farm.  The Latino-run farms are Agua Gorda Cooperative, La Familia Cooperative, and Cala Farms.  Our group of five farms has worked with the Latino Economic Development Center to develop a 200-member CSA (and growing!), a distribution hub on the East Side of Saint Paul, and methods to communicate across a wide array of language and cultural differences.

Last Saturday we had a wonderful meeting in Long Prairie, Minnesota, where Agua Gorda Cooperative lives and farms.  Jose Garcia, one of the farmers, also owns a grocery store in town.  We met in the back of the store and discussed finances, logistics, improvements, and next year’s crop plan while a large pot of carnitas simmered in the back.  Another major development is that we have decided to rename the producers coop from Stone’s Throw Ag. Coop to SHARED GROUND FARMERS COOPERATIVE.  We feel that the name is much more democratic and representative of all of the members of the cooperative.

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I am continually inspired by the work that this group of people continues to do and their motivations for developing a more just regional food system.  Robin has been incredibly diligent in wrangling the farmers week after week, distributing restaurant and CSA shares, and focusing on the coop’s development.  The LEDC continues to support the coop, including us in grants, sharing warehouse space, and advising us on business decisions.  Both Agua Gorda and La Familia expanded their operations this year and will be growing increasingly diverse crops next year.  Despite traveling long distances and working off-farm jobs, Agua Gorda and La Familia are able to deliver beautiful, fresh produce week after week to the Saint Paul warehouse.  Amidst tumultuous travels, raising a newborn, and starting a new farm, the Whetstone farmers never cease to contribute with clear minds and cheery countenances.  Rodrigo Cala of Cala Farms has served as a link among the LEDC, cooperative, and farmers working tirelessly on a wide range of tasks from farm advising to financial planning to serving as a voice for the coop.  He recently gave a short interview for the coop newsletter that I wanted to share here.  Enjoy reading these words from Rodrigo:

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Describe how you started farming in Minnesota.
When we [my brother and I] started farming was because the quality of the produce from Mexican dishes.  We tried to get squash and verdolaga, a mexican herb, for a speciality Mexican dish.  We going to try to find this herb, we going to seven different Mexican grocery stores and finally we get some but it was really poor quality.  On our way home I was talking with my brother and I say “you see the quality of the Mexican produce?” and I say, “why don’t we rent a small piece of land to grow produce just for us?”.  I ask people and they say no, they won’t allow you to grow produce in the USA.  One day I was working with a lady who help me pay my taxes.  She works on a non-profit organization called “Homestretch”.  So I was talking with her about my taxes and she start talking with me about the process to pay my taxes.  So I was talking with her about my ideas and I was telling her that I want to buy a house and maybe we can buy some land.  And she says “oh, there is a program in Stillwater called Minnesota Food Association”.  She sent me there and the first thing is I get there and I didn’t know anything about organic productions.  They say they had one rule, you have to grow organic.  So I say OK and we started to grow with them.  

Our first market was with Mexican markets.  The first things we grow was mexican summer squash called “Tatuma”, squash blossom, and verdolaga.  But the market was very bad because we don’t find any contract.  Sometimes we go there with one box of produce, and then they say they want five cases and we bring five cases and they say “oh, we don’t want five cases”.  It was very frustrating for me because I feel they don’t respect us.  Then one day Minnesota Food Association ask us if we want to start growing peppers for Chipotle.  I see the difference between working with Latino business and anglo business.  The anglo business are more formal, you need to sign some contracts.  But the hard thing was was we start with $25 per box of peppers.  Then every year they pay lower and lower.  Now they want to pay $11 per box.  The first year we made $5,000 on bell peppers and we used that money to make a downpayment on a farm.  I get the farm in 2008 and I certify one part of the farm, a quarter of the farm.  Now all the farm is all certified organic.  Our next customer was Co-op Partners in 2010.  

Now we sell produce to the co-ops and our cooperative, Stone’s Throw.  

Through the LEDC (Latino Economic Development Center) you worked  with many other farmers in the cooperative, how did you work with them this season?
I help them with farm training, I help them if they have questions on productions, if they want to buy a tractor, if they want to improve the capacity of the operations.  I help from the beginning to the end with them.  I help them from farm planning to harvest planning to harvest production to ….I don’t know.  There are many different questions.  Sometimes they call me to know where they can get plastic, boxes, where they can get seeds.  I help a lot.  Even when we start working in the field, I’m working with them, not just watching them.  I put my hands in the earth with them.  

How does owning a farm business impact Latino Farmers in Minnesota?
The first thing that I see, I see the people how they can feel empowered.  They don’t work for somebody else and right now the farms are small farms really.  They don’t break even but they are in the process to doing that.  But you can see on their faces how they can feel a difference.  When I see people working for plenty of farm production, in dairies and meat plants, and they are just labor workers they don’t have any chance to succeed.  I feel that with Agua Gorda Cooperative, I feel that with La Familia Cooperative.  When I start working with new farmers, they have questions like how much money can I make?  I can own the tractor? I can own the tools? And when they start working on that process I feel the confidence in them on this process.  Even though they are really small farms, you can see the happiness of these people on their faces.  

- – Rodrigo Cala, Cala Farms – -

As you or your friends ponder CSA membership over the winter, please contact us about purchasing a share through the co-op.  This is an excellent way to support local, sustainable food and beginning farmers from diverse backgrounds.  This coming year we will be working on achieving organic certification for each member farm and the cooperative, improving our produce, and working on infrastructure developments on each farm.  Please stay tuned.

Thanks,

Alex

Winter, post from our intern, Fionn

Winter has come quick.  We are now harvesting solely from high tunnels and working (slowly, combating lethargy) on indoor office and construction projects.

Below is a post from Fionn, a current HECUA intern with our farm.  It was written solely a few weeks ago but has the flavor of a season long gone by.  Fionn has been a great help, inserting enthusiasm into the farm as our own energy levels wane.  He has been working on designing a compost-heating prototype for the greenhouse.

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Today really felt like Autumn. The endless gray sky, the wind whipping the leaves about, the constant sniffling from unacclimated sinuses. A far reach from the bizarrely beautiful days that have been the norm this season. I don’t think anyone’s really complaining about the warm weather, but this sudden brisk day is rejuvenating. It puts me back on track for the mental preparation that must precede a long Minnesota winter. Now that the weather has finally pushed me indoors, I have a chance to reflect on my past couple of months with Stone’s Throw. I ventured into this educational direction on a whim, really, lacking any and all skill sets that would make me suitable for farm work save for the use of my limbs. Not knowing most of what was going on around me, regarding the crops, I was able to hone in on certain aspects of the farm that I discovered were of particular intrigue to me. All these aspects fell neatly into a pile that I will call community, for lack of a more specific term. This multi-layered community exists in several realms. It is within the farm, but it is also a greater fabric into which the farm is carefully woven. This fabric allows the farm to exist in an environment where it would normally be considered impractical. When I explain the way the farm functions to people I am met, more often than not, with incredulity and instant skepticism.

Urban farming just doesn’t seem like a fully sane concept to those who have not been able to witness its practicality and success firsthand. On the other hand, the sight of the farm itself, with its bountiful boxes bursting with vibrant herbs and community-art adorned greenhouse is not at all foreign to the dozens of neighbors who wave to me everyday from their porches as I take a small break from hoeing weeds. These people accept the presence of the farm and, in turn, the farm performs its own neighborly duties when they are required, such as offering a fresh head of lettuce to an inquiring mother who has halfway through cooking her family dinner. I fear that the concept of community support and acceptance is also undervalued and misunderstood by those who have not had the good fortune to experience the unparallelled potential of many-supporting-one and one-supporting-many.

As a young adult who has spent most of my life living in intentional communities, I seek out these instances as a source of personal validation and mental reaffirmation. I do what I can to surround myself with people and systems that remind me of the importance of interdependence. It is of special importance when rallying resources for ecologically-conscious problem solving, such as growing food sustainably and productively in an urban environment. I think of Stone’s Throw as a wonderful example showing that similar initiatives are only and always made stronger, more durable, and more valuable by their close-knit ties to the community in which they exist.

Thanks for listening,

Fionn the Intern

Thanks for all of the letters of support and phone calls to CM Dai Thao’s office.  We are making progress in securing a more permanent site(s) in Saint Paul and will be sure to share details soon.

It is blustery outside but our winter market booth this weekend at the Mill City Farmer’s Market will be stocked: spinach, carrots, cooking herbs, lettuces, salad turnips, and watermelon radishes will brighten the table.

I promise that in future weeks we will stop outsourcing blog duties to our volunteer interns (who have excellent things to say by the way, often more eloquent than us…)  We have been doing lots of number crunching, both about the business and for a potential vision of urban agriculture in the Cities (i.e. how much land do we need to thrive?  how much land does the City of Saint Paul need to produce all of its vegetables within its city limits?  what percentage of total land mass is this?).   We are thinking a lot about how urban agriculture can (and must) mesh with housing, public transportation, education, and the large array of civic initiatives and spaces that make the Twin Cities an excellent place to live.  More to come!

Many thanks,

Alex

Goodbye/Recap from Abdul and a few farm notes

Farm community:

Abdul has been an integral part of the farm these past several months.  He came to the farm to complete an internship as he pursued his Masters in Horticulture from the University of Minnesota.  I am honored to share a piece he wrote below about his own life and experiences on the farm.


Abdul Internship Experience in the Stone’s Throw Urban Farm

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My name is Cabdulqaadir Faarax, in short call me Abdul. I am a graduate student of the University of Minnesota, majoring Horticulture with Sustainable Agriculture minor. I am concentrating Horticulture Marketing and Sustainable Food Production. I am in final year and I am expecting to graduate on fall 2014.

In my background, agriculture is my long time career as well as my family heritage. Both my father and my grandfather were small scale farmers in the South Somalia. Somalis named my grandfather “Faarax Dhulqod” which means “land digger” because majority of the Somalis are nomadic pastoralists that raise different livestock such as camel, cattle, goat and sheep and they less value land cultivation and see farmers as second class.

When I completed my middle school, my father registered me into agriculture high school instead of general high schools. Four year late, I graduated from agriculture high school, and I started working in the Ministry of Agriculture in Somalia. My job was planning and monitoring of the government funded agricultural projects. Two years late, I decided to continue my agriculture study and I registered college of agriculture in the Somali National University. My plan was to run my own farm after I finish my bachelor degree. But unfortunately it would not happen, because Somali civil war broke out as soon I finished my program.

I fled from my country to Kenya as refugee. Then, at the end of 1999, I came in the United States of America, Minnesota State. For coming and living a new place is not easy; the first thing that comes your mind is how to survive, how to feed yourself, how to get shelter and how to adjust your basic life. For survival, I started full time work in printing company which I didn’t know anything about it. I did bindery, packing, feeding and helping machine operator for 4 years. After 4 year, I feel that printing is neither my profession nor my family heritage. Then I decided to back to the school and continue my agriculture profession while I am still working full time job.

In the fall 2004, I tried to apply College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Science in the University of Minnesota. But, most programs are full time morning classes which I could not go because I wanted to pay my bills and living.

After that, I applied Metropolitan State University because it was only the place that work and study can go together. It took to me four year to get my second bachelor of biology. Finally, I graduated on May 2008.

Two months before my graduation; I lay off my printing company’s job. It was that time, when I fully decided to align my agriculture career. I applied master of horticulture in the University of Minnesota which I am currently finishing it.

Although, I had many years of agricultural schooling, but I was feeling that I am missing something in my career. Because my agricultural experience was limited to the farm demonstration, green house experiment, and lab test. I wanted changing my book studies into a real practical application”. “It is the time my hands get dirty and go into a real field experience”.

Luckily, on May, 2014, I got an internship at Stone’s Throw Urban Farms in the Twin Cities. I met Alex and Robin, members of farm owners. They welcomed me very well. When I explained my internship, they told me that their job is tiresome and dirty. But, I told that I tired learning agriculture theory books, and now I am looking for a hard work and hand dirty experience.

I remember first day of my internship at Galtier and Sherburne site in St Paul, with Alex, Eric, Robin, Kristi, and Ann, we started transplanting many heirloom tomato varieties. I knelt down on composted wet soil and I put my hands in dirty soil, whispered myself “this is what I wanted be done for so many years ago”. I left that night while my clothes and shoes were wet, dirty, and muddy and my backbone was alarming.

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After week of transplanting and land preparations in different sites, my body muscles soared badly because I didn’t have enough physical exercise and hard work like this before. However, after weeks of continues work, I became farm commandos and my body become normal.

During my internship, I worked at 14 different sites in the Twin Cities- 7 in St. Paul and 7 in Minneapolis. Almost every day when I call Alex or Eric, they were working in different sites, roaming corner to corner in the Twin Cities. Stone’s Throw team is wonderful people, if you work with them; you will not like to go another place. They taught me how to prepare compost, till soil, transplant, direct seed, weed, trellises, irrigate, harvest, postharvest cleaning, and attending Mill City Farmers market.

In my internship in the Stone’s Throw farm, I learned how to grow sustainably following vegetables and herbs; tomatoes, carrots, peppers, onions, garlics, lettuce, mixed salad, arugula, kale, chard, radish, spinach, cucumbers, basils, thymes, sages and many more.

Also, Stone’s Throw Farm allowed me to carry my little experiment for their sites in Minneapolis. I tested two varieties of cowpeas in Minneapolis site. These two varieties were preferred by Somali Communities in the Twin Cities. Therefore, I want to see how well these varieties grow in Minnesota soil.

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Back to Stone’s Throw, I had five months practical experience which is better than five year book studies. I keep my heart with Stone’s Throw Team; Alex, Robbin, Eric, Kristi, Caroline and John. Also, I don’t want to forget volunteer Anna and intern Angela for their friendly team work.

In addition, I will not forget Stone’s Throw Urban Farm for their fresh tasty vegetables and herbs. I remember I cooking kales, chards, radishes and making raw salad from mixed salad, arugula, lettuce and green tomatoes. Also, adding at evening soup for peppers, thymes, sages, basils to relieve my family cold and allergies.

My family and I had enough experience of having a nice taste of fresh food from the Stone’s Throw Urban Farm.

Finally, I want to thank all Stone’s Throw team and I hope for them to have a good season with good production. I hope for them to get more customers and more large vacant land.

In near future, I want to become a sustainable farmer, extension outreach, freelance researcher and part- time teacher in a small agriculture college in Africa.

In addition, I would like to solve world food problem for contributing what I learned and make world better place without food injustice and hunger.

Abdul

Many thanks for reading.  We hope to continue to collaborate with Abdul and are already scheming with him about ag. development plans in Somalia.  

The Mill City WINTER Farmer’s Market starts this weekend.  The market runs from 10 AM to 1 PM and is located inside the Mill City Museum.  We will have a wonderful abundance of fresh produce.

Lastly, we are asking friends, supporters, and farm stakeholders for their political support as we negotiate with the City of Saint Paul to gain long-term access to our site on 625 Dale Avenue. 

As a farm we recently received $60,000 in funding through the Knight Foundation’s “Greenline Challenge” to build an existing farm site at 625 Dale St. into a Saint Paul farm hub.  Given its large size and proximity to a commercial thoroughfare, the site has great potential to model the the benefits of farming in the city. We plan to erect 2 hoop houses, a greenhouse, a permanent market stand, and welcoming pedestrian space on site.  Our hope is to create a space that will innovate how food is grown in urban areas and also serve as an amenity to the neighborhood.

The city planning department has expressed concern with implementation of our vision, as we do not have long term control over the site.  We are working closely with the Frogtown Neighborhood Association to negotiate a lengthened lease, and possibly to put forth a proposal to purchase the site.  To help open negotiation, we are asking farm allies to reach out to City Council Member Dai Thao’s office and express support for this project. 

 We want to keep messaging fairly simple and positive at this point.  We think it would be most effective for folks to:

1. Introduce themselves (identifying their connection to Saint Paul and/or Ward 1)  

2. Express enthusiasm for our project 

3. Follow with any supporting reason that they are excited to see farming and small business in Frogtown.  

Dai Thao’s office can be reached at (651) 266-8610 or via email at: ward1@ci.stpaul.mn.us

Many thanks for reading and for your ongoing support.  We are cleaning up fields, planted garlic last week, and moseying towards winter.  As always, we love to hear your ideas, critiques, and other musings about this farm and food production in general.

Alex

Fall time

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This week marks the last week of official farm CSA delivery. A bookend to the season of sorts. No more long Monday harvests, hundreds of rubber bands wrapped around one’s finger, bins of kale or swiss chard stacked precariously high in the back of the van. On Tuesday afternoons the farm plots will feel a bit empty, devoid of children and parents lazily picking cherry tomatoes or John (a long-time Minneapolis urban farmer and major contributor to Stone’s Throw) diligently washing out the muddy harvest totes.

In all honesty, we are also incredibly relieved to have a break from the monotony of full farm production season. In mid-April we began transplanting, tilling, and harvesting from our high tunnels. Back then, the days were short, the trees had no leaves but there was a hope, a confirmation in the air that spring was indeed coming, that long days would end in fruitful harvests. Now, the days are short, many trees have no leaves, and there is a collective desire to lay the farm to rest, to mulch the perennial herbs, roll-up irrigation lines, and eat handfuls of hardy spinach.

Late October is also often the first time for real reflection. Time to pick one’s head from the myopia of vegetable cultivation, harvest, and delivery, and attempt to see the farm in a larger context. I am immediately stricken by the amount of generosity and support the Twin Cities has shown this farm project. From institutional collaboration to neighborly advice our farm operates effectively because of the wonderful people with whom it interacts.

On a late July evening, I was furiously trying to fix an irrigation line at 12th Avenue, one of our (creatively named) Minneapolis sites. We had planted salad greens the day before but thunderstorms had dodged the city and a warm front had moved in, creating dry and dusty conditions. Without immediate irrigation, the germination of the greens would be spotty, leading to weed problems and lowered yield. After several hose repairs, replacing the batteries on the irrigation timers, and a few trips to the hardware store, water began to soak into the ground. I prepared to leave the plot and trudge home. As I stepped on to the sidewalk, the elderly neighbor next door offered me a full meal of lentil soup, fried potatoes, watermelon. She had packed it into bags, demanding that I heed her advice and heat up the soup before consuming. The woman is an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago and wonderful gardener. When the family moved in, the husband diligently cut back the trees surrounding the yard with a large machete to allow more light. They tilled all the grass and planted eggplant throughout the front yard. They also constructed a 10 foot by 4 foot trellis to support massive, pale, cylindrical squashes, reaching up to 3 feet in length). When struggling through the summer heat and endless farming tasks, events like these become mythic, bulwarks against exhaustion and disillusionment. They far outweigh the occasional vandal or city planner hell bent on keeping urban farms from disrupting the city’s “progress”.

Generous neighbors, enthusiastic passers-by, selfless volunteers, and creative city officials all help to make the farm more interesting, more dynamic, and richer in content. CSA members, our market customers, and many restaurant and wholesale accounts help to make urban production farming a distinct reality. As warm fall days turn into cold winter ones, we will sorely miss seeing so many of your faces.

We have spent many hours this fall building a full-season greenhouse at our 15th Avenue plot in Minneapolis. We will start our baby seedlings here in late-February and continue starting transplants throughout the summer. We also hope that this structure will serve many additional purposes: a microgreens production space, a neighborhood gathering place to escape the frigid late winter winds, a place to collaborate with aquaponics enthusiasts to design farm-scale systems. Our hope is that this greenhouse space will serve as a prototype and testing ground for larger-scale year-round production spaces in the future.

This week we also received exciting news that we were one of 16 recipients of the Knight Foundation’s Green Line Challenge grant. We were awarded funds to transform our 625 Dale Avenue plot in Saint Paul into a more dynamic, long-term production and food distribution space. Our intention is to continue to develop innovative urban agriculture techniques while developing farm spaces as interactive, pedestrian-friendly gathering areas. As part of the grant we will build several hoophouses, construct seating space along Dale Avenue, plant rows of perennial fruit bushes, and erect a market stand. We will also develop curriculum that teaches scalable urban production methods. Our intention is to design trainings that are suitable for both practitioners of larger-scale urban agriculture and backyard gardeners. We are very honored that the Knight Foundation’s community reviewers have selected our farm to do this work.

As the tomato stakes go from vertical supports to laying horizontal on pallets and the days become shorter, we thank you all for making the Twin Cities a wonderful and interesting place to grow food. As always, we welcome your comments, critiques, and suggestions for how to improve Stone’s Throw Urban Farm. Please stop by our plots in the coming weeks. We will be busy cleaning up, mulching, fixing engines and sheds, and continuing the fall harvest.

Until next time,

Alex

The late summer daze

It has been months since we last wrote.  Our heads and hands have been away from electronic communication, save for the late night frantic copying down of restaurant orders or checking the radar for oncoming thunderstorms.  We are currently harvesting a wide array of crops three times per week while preparing for a bountiful fall.  For the past six weeks (and continuing through September) we have been preparing land, planting, and weeding fall salad greens, brassicas, carrots, beets, and our last successions of basil, dill, and cilantro.  We spent a late July day in Stillwater, dismantling a greenhouse that we found on Craigslist.  We plan to erect the greenhouse in the city this fall, as a prototype for what we hope is the development of more intensified growing in heated greenhouses and hoophouses.

There is a certain repetition that begins to intensify this time of the farm season.  The sound of ice cream trucks driving by, hauntingly crying “Fur Elise” while another tomato plant is lifted from the ground, clipped, and pruned.  Afternoon chatter turns to evening barbecues that turn into nighttime walks while we often continue to pick a last tray of tomatoes, clean up the packing area, or hoe a final row of tomatoes.  I oscillate between entrapment and enchantment this time of year.  The desire to be freed from the daily toil of the farm, the incessant demands of plants and plant-eaters while also feeling deeply at peace with the glint of light passing through thousands of tomato leaves, the meditative action of lightly dragging a hoe through the soil hour upon hour.  I have been thinking about how much of human discontent comes from our internal circumstances as opposed to our external circumstances.  In years past I have allowed myself to become consumed by worry, by distraction, by wanting to leave the work for something else.  This year I attempt (however feebly), to settle into the act of farming, the inevitability of endless August days, the lived experience of crop failures, crop successes, personal failures, personal successes.   Time will tell if this outlook will increase the quality of our produce.

We have been especially grateful for the wonderful people that have kept this farm humming and singing day in and day out.  Three summer interns, Abdul, Angela, and Olivia will all be leaving the farm shortly.  Angela, a University of Minnesota horticulture student, brought tenacity and energy to each day she worked.  She made beautiful flower bouquets and worked harder than most.  Unfortunate for us, she is headed back to school.  Olivia, a McGill University student and Minnesota native, connected with us through PLACE, a non-profit housing developer exploring greenhouse integration into housing developments.  She has provided a calm, unwavering intelligence, willing to tackle unwieldy projects (the bicycle powered salad spinner) even if the results are less than promising.  Abdul, a Somali, former print factory worker, and current University of Minnesota horticulture graduate student, will be sorely missed.  Abdul worked in the Ministry of Agriculture in Somalia until civil unrest erupted in 1992.  He is now hoping to gather agricultural knowledge and skills in the United States so that he can return to Somalia to begin his own farm and teach his neighbors.  Abdul is curious, good-natured, and established a beautiful experiment of cowpeas while on the farm.  We are hoping each of the interns will keep pursuing their agricultural interests and stay connected with Stone’s Throw Urban Farm.

Plans are in the works to spend the fall building more high tunnels, harvesting hardy crops through December, and making investment decisions including the purchase of land.  Please stop by the Mill City Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or our weekly on-site farmstands on Tuesday afternoons (3-7 PM) at 625 Dale Ave, Saint Paul and 2820 15th Ave S., Minneapolis.  We have lots of stories and lovely food.  

Many thanks for your interest and support of our farm,

Alex

Greens! An Ode from Caroline

A Salad Advocacy PSA

We’ve made it to July farm subscribers! While my ideas for blog posts are generally inspired by the political threads tying together a non-contiguous farm in the city, on this rambling Sunday I feel compelled to highlight some on the ground happenings.

The month of June has been a salad jubilee- greens bursting out of the ground, our refrigerators, and lunch boxes. While it’s temping to wait out the season for some of the more charismatic bounty of fall, I want to advocate for salad- the early, tender, and unsung hero of the season. Since the urban farm began working within the context of a larger urban-rural cooperative this past season, we have been able to focus on space intensive and perishable crops that make the most sense to grow in the city. Salad is one of these crops and accordingly a significant amount the farm routine is an ode to these lovely leaves.

 Should you be unsure of how to best ingest, here are some of the farm’s favorite preparations to prevent malaise:

• An anonymous salad and donut lunch eaten at the farm this week.

• The Larsen family PB(G!) & J sandwich.

• Breakfast salad

In conclusion: enjoy, revere, and eat your salad greens.

Arugula always,
Caroline

A note from our intern, Angela

Farm friends, family, and supporters:

This week, Angela, one of our summer interns from HECUA, has written about her experience on the farm.  I just returned from an exciting and inspirational weekend at Growing Power in Milwaukee and am full of ideas for more infrastructure projects, mushroom cultivation, community outreach.  I will write more later.  We have a busy week ahead of tomato pruning and weeding after so much rain.

With further ado, here is Angela:

Hey y’all, my name is Angela, I am Organic Horticulture student at the University of

Minnesota, and intern with Stone’s Throw. As my time with the farm is just begining

I have already been exposed to the plethera of projects that occur simultaneously

literally on the soil and off the field. On the ground everything from harvest,

processing, packing, CSA coordinating, staking, composing, hoeing, and of course

weeding all goes down. It has been quite mind blowing how everyone plays to his or

her strengths to keep the organism that is Stone’s Throw moving.

With all the rain this week our focus was to weed like crazy, racing to rescue

various plots and put them in a strong condition to outcompete non-crop plants.

Grass tends to be the main target, with once being lawns the grass can come back

with vengeance. As the team weeds together quickly as possible it can boggle the

brain, yet provide therapeutic qualities with the idea we are tending to a crop that

will soon become nourishment for urban dwellers. This thought keeps floating in

my head, and how straight up amazing it is to care for and harvest fresh beautiful

vegetables in a city. It is a practice more commonly done in rural areas, raising

plants that have been crossbred for human perfection, defenseless, and delicious.

Grown within soil that is constantly being rejuvenated with compost, turned by

human hands and critters. It has helped me connect to land even when surrounded

by city infrastructure.

Constantly working outside is physically demanding but has its treasures, in

particular I witnessed pollination on a salad mix crop gone to flower. Letting

crops go is not always a negative in this case is providing much needed pollen and

nectar for environmentally valuable pollinators. While finishing up composting at

the Galtier and Sherburne site in St. Paul, I wanted to take in the wildness of the

overgrown salad greens. Walking closer to observe the clusters of yellow and white

flowers there were bees buzzing. As a lover of these pollinators it was exciting to

see them out foraging the field. Even better they where native, my best guess is a

Miner bee for it being early in the growing season, the smoky wings, and the large

amount of pollen she was carrying. With the weather really heating up and tomatoes

growing rapidly bumblebees should be in masses soon.

Best,

Angela Schuster

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In this picture (from left to right) are Abdul, a University of Minnesota graduate student (you will hear more from him later), Anna, a hard-working, vibrant volunteer, and Angela, your week’s correspondent and weeding extraordinaire