All the jars stood in a long row on the kitchen counter, the red of the tomatoes all bright and the glass all shiny wet after a hot bath. My thought went to pioneers desperate to push through a looming winter or the grand storehouses of lost empires. It felt right and natural for this 8-year old me to have fantasies of a little cabin in the Beltrami forest where our family hunted, a refuge where I’d chop wood and garden and live an an idyllic life by myself, one with nature.
As I was trying to recall what brought me to today and this is one of my earliest memories of being attracted to farming. I’ve met few people who decided their life’s direction at age 10 and I’m certainly not one of them. I never grew up farming and agriculture wasn’t on my high school strength inventory (where you take a test which ID’s jobs which would fit your interests).
My only farm-related experience as a kid was gardening in an abondoned lot which sat between some potato warehouses in East Grand Forks. My Uncle Doc was warehouse manager for Ryan Potato, who lived in a trailer on-site and our family shared a gardenspace with his family and my Grandpa Adolph. A lanky man who worked three jobs his whole life, my grandpa meticulously set coffee cans around tomatoes and watered religiously. This plot would never be found in Better Homes and Gardens, yet it brought together family, supplied us food, and gave us kids a reason to explore huge tracts of weeds near the rail line. Reflecting back on it, this minor chapter in my childhood made some mark on my life.
Fast forward to college, the 20-something me re-found his food connection when I stumbled into my local food co-op in St. Peter, MN. A storefront the size of my kitchen, this was the coolest place ever with a countercultural vibe, intermingling a bunch of local La Leche moms and left-wing college kids like myself. I never grew dreadlocks or picketed offices in my radical youth, but I fell in love with the co-op movement as it fit my Midwestern upbringing. It was both radical in spirit and practical in execution. This love affair led me to my two-year farm apprenticeship and four years working for Mississippi Market Co-op in St. Paul upon graduating, rich experiences which truly did make me the organic farm operator I am today.
In the box:
- Green Peppers
- Tomato Mix: Man, are these tomatoes slow this year! I had to hunt and peck like crazy to get this little mix of types.
- Sweet Corn
- Red Onion
- Sweet Onion
- Summer Squash
- Yellow Potatoes