The Apprentice Speaks

Blackbirds are gathering in dense flocks and I now wake before sunrise. A chill is in the air.

As the season comes to a close, I’m just happy to make it to the end. I must admit, at the beginning of the season, I wondered if we would be able to get here. This spring I had painted myself into the tightest corner I could find between moving the co-op and its related capital campaign, Maree working off-farm, and kids doing distance learning. And, by the way, what would happen if I contracted COVID? I don’t know.

But here we are and those worries were for naught, in large part due to the diligence of Emily Reno, our apprentice, who picked up the slack as my attention was often pulled to my many competing tasks. So, I’ll let Emily (now an official ‘veggie serf’ as we call ourselves around here) speak for herself:

Emily writes,

“To say that this summer was challenging would be an understatement. To say that living with the Pesches has been a gift would also be an understatement. To say that working at Lida Farm this summer has changed my life would be right about on point.

It is difficult to say whether or not arriving here was a coincidence. In a conversation while packing boxes with Ryan recently we arrived at the odd conclusion that in the same year – when we turned 26 – both of us came out to this farm. Whatever the universe wanted for us, apparently we found in this place. Something about it is magnetic. I first knew that when I came here to do research with North Circle Seeds, but couldn’t have appreciated the fullness of it until spending the summer here.

Little did I know that my first visit would turn into an apprenticeship, and a rich friendship with the Pesch family. As CSA members you are already probably well aware of their superhuman-ness. Not only do Ryan and Maree work full-time jobs, but they run a farm, raise three incredible little humans, and maintain a strong presence in the community through various service and faith organizations. I thought I was a busybody until I met them. If you haven’t done so recently, I encourage you to express your appreciation for their work. More than likely you’ve only seen a fraction of it!

As the last few weeks of my time at Lida Farm come to a close, I wanted to take the time to say publicly how grateful I am for their willingness to put up with me for the summer, to provide me refuge from the burning down of my neighborhood in South Minneapolis, and to let me take part in some small way in their family affairs. The hospitality led to my decision to reside in West Central Minnesota long-term, pursuing (and accepting!) a position as an Assistant Planner with West Central Initiative Foundation, and to launch into the next chapter of my life with a newfound reverence for the importance of our nation’s farmers. 


P.S. – If you know anyone who would be willing to rent a furnished lake house for the winter to a high-quality renter, please reach out to me at emilyp.reno@gmail.com. :)”

In the Box:

  • Red Kuri Squash
  • Delicata Squash
  • Buttercup Squash
  • Red and Yellow Onion
  • Garlic
  • Rutabaga(s)
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Russet Potatoes
  • Kale
  • Watermelon Radish – this is typically pale green on the outside with a bright red inside (like watetmelon red).

Ode to a Worn Out Honda Odyssey

Most farmers (and plenty of non-farmers) drive big diesel pick-ups. Big tires, jacked up chassis, plenty of power. Lida Farms, in contrast, runs on small Honda vehicles .

The Honda Odyssey started as the family mini van 8 year ago, carting kids to school and events. But for the last four years, I’ve done by darnest to completely trash it. I’ve loaded hundreds of pounds of potatoes, squash, and cabbages into this thing to get crops from field to packing shed. It’s our main ‘delivery’ vehicle too, logging many miles around Becker and Otter Tail Counties. It’s pulled trailers too heavy for its modest 6 cylinder and even held a few sheep and calf one time.

At times I’ve wished for something more, but, really, who can complain about this thing. Over a quarter-million miles and going strong. We’ve been thinking about retiring old thing and getting a proper vehicle for the job, but, at the very least, we can treat this workhorse with an oil and fluid change before it’s winter rest.

In the box:

  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Yellow Onions
  • Haralred Apples
  • Italian Parsley
  • Green Cabbage
  • Long Pie Pumpkin: Use this like you would a pie pumpkin – great for things like pumpkin bars and such.
  • Butternut Squash
  • Carnival Squash
  • Red Potatoes
  • Hakurai Salad Turnip