Release Date: March 15, 2013
Application Deadline: March 31, 2013
All information can be found at this link:
Release Date: March 15, 2013
Application Deadline: March 31, 2013
All information can be found at this link:
When I was growing up, my Uncle Roger seemed like an alien. To a kid from the suburbs who’d memorized the prime time TV schedule, his upbringing—on a farm as one of 13 kids—was so foreign to me that I felt more in common with Laura Ingalls than my own uncle. Adding to the gulf between us was his manner, which I perceived as gruff and unfriendly, so much so that my brother and I nicknamed him “Uncle Ogre,” only half-jokingly.
He hunted, fished, built everything himself, constructed a smoker in his backyard, and kept a one-acre “garden” that mainly went toward supporting his pickling and canning habit. Every year, he’d bring out his well-used crock and make the most amazing sweet pickles I’d ever tasted—everyone in the family was addicted, and when he handed them out at Christmas, I can’t say there wasn’t squabbling if someone got just one extra jar.
As I got older and became more and more interested in sustainability and farming, his experience and my enthusiasm finally overlapped, especially in the past few years as Karla and I worked to start our own farm. We sat around his kitchen table, talking about cucumbers and turnips, tractors and markets, and his once-gruff language now seemed like the best kind of straightforward talk I’d ever heard. Like a mentor, he asked questions that led us toward thinking in new directions about what we were growing and how we intended to sell the result.
When we’d convinced him that we were serious in our farming venture, he gave me the famous crock and said it was my turn now for the sweet pickles. Neither of us knew that only a few months later, he’d lose his fight with colon cancer, and he’d never get to taste the results of my first effort. But still, there was a sense of a torch being passed, of family continuance, of that crock becoming an heirloom of sorts.
He never got to see our farm, yet he knew about every bed, all the varieties of tomatoes we’d planted, and gave us ideas about how to handle the imminent abundance. Our last conversation, just a few days before he died, was about radishes. “Pickle ‘em,” he said. “People who don’t like radishes don’t know what they’re missing, so you teach them with those pickles.”
A month later, we’re now faced with the abundance that he knew was coming. In this first year of harvesting, Karla and I are suddenly in the swing of trying to capture all of the gorgeous flavors in the ways that my uncle knew well—canning, pickling, dehydrating, and fermenting. When it came time to make the sweet pickles, I brought out the crock and followed his recipe, crying my way through most of the process. But they all sealed and looked perfect, and I could almost hear him behind me with that tough old voice of his, saying only: “Yep, you got it.”
It made me think of the long line of family behind me, all farmers except for a couple recent generations. My father used to tell me about my great grandmother and how she could grow anything and had no use for people who couldn’t make themselves useful. I have a photo in my office of my great aunt holding up a long string of trout, with a grin on her face that seems to say, “I only quit because I got bored.” And without knowing it, when I chose a house in Minneapolis, it was only two miles from where my great uncle had a sprawling, beautiful farm that’s now (sadly) a shopping mall.
When Karla and I started farming, I thought my interest came from a recent, personal impulse—to be closer to my food system, to provide organic produce to my community, to live sustainably. But when I heard those first pings of sweet pickle jars sealing, I knew that I was part of a much older, much more intimate tradition.
I now have a deeper sense of humility and gratitude for all who’ve come before me—living through the loss of my uncle in a season of fresh beginning and abundance has taught me that I’m part of a cycle and a tradition. Preserving our harvest has now taken on more meaning than I could have ever imagined, and connected me not just to my family, but to a broader sense of simplicity and sustenance.
Like my uncle said, it’s my turn now. And I intend to cherish it.
back in september (which feels like forever ago at this point), we held our very first crop mob and about a dozen hearty, awesome bossy fans showed up to help us plant.
as part of an experiment to see how well a few vegetables would do with taking root before the winter — back when we thought the winter would be a traditional snowy and chilly type — the plants ranged from siberian kale to carrots to bull’s blood beets.
the thought behind overwintering crops is that you plant them in the fall, around the time of the first frost. they begin to grow and take root, and then the second frost shoots through and makes them go dormant. when spring comes along, the vegetables already have their root systems established, so the farmer gets a jump on the season.
to encourage our little winter warriors, and keep them safe from hungry animals, we created small hoop tunnels with freeze-grade reemay that allowed airflow and light to come in, but critters and snow to stay out. when the beds were prepped, it was like tucking them in for the winter, and the portion of the field with those crops looked like it was filled with huge white caterpillars.
of course, after one of the few snowfalls of the season, the caterpillars looked a little flattened, but at least they didn’t get completely smushed.
with the warm weather, we took time this weekend to remove the covering and take a good look at our bossy bounty. that’s when we found out that, boy, are we good at growing weeds!
but among the weedy portions, some real vegetables peeked through, particularly the kale. the distinctive, jagged leaves of the carrots have appeared, along with some nice spinach leaves. it seems like we see more of the overwintering crops appearing every time we’ve gone to do some hoeing (of which there will be plenty), and with another farm excursion planned for tomorrow, we’re hoping to see another row begin to pop.
the fact that we’re watching some of our vegetables growing in the field at the beginning of april is stunning. but hey, we’re not complaining.
grow, bossy babies, grow!
to say that we were itchin’ to get into a farmers’ market was an understatement.
oh they knew we were hungry for it!
for months prior, we had been growing various gourmet greens and micro mixes…perfecting them and the time had come. time to get out there in our little community and see what people thought of our bossy greens.
we applied for the indoor holiday market that fulton and kingfield put on in late november and were thrilled to be accepted among other wonderful vendors and producers.
it was go time!
come november 20th, we were pretty well set with six or seven various mixes….so full of flavor, textures, and earthy smells.
now the question was …… will anyone be interested?
we got there nice and early ….. and bustled around with the other vendors getting everything prepped for our first market.
come 830am…..it was non-stop goodness ….. people were so wonderful and receptive to who we are, what we do, and the love that we put into our bossy greens.
it was a fun, festive market high that we won’t soon forget, i’m sure!
come noon….bossy had sold out!
our first market was a success!
now…..to get our paws on another one!
let’s talk a little lsp … shall we?
it stands for land stewardship project.
and we believe that it’s one of the key foundational elements in our farming adventure.
the breakdown: ”the land stewardship project (lsp) is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1982 to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture and to develop sustainable communities.”
so what does that mean to us and other small farmers here in minnesota?
here are some basic areas in which the lsp work their magic:
overall, they bring their focus into four primary bodies of work:
so aside from all of the wonderful educational workshops, field days, and resources that we’ve been exposed to thru our membership of land stewardship project……we’re currently enrolled in their farm beginnings program and couldn’t be more thrilled about it!
a little about the farm beginnings program:
“it’s a training course that provides opportunities for beginning and transitioning farmers to learn firsthand about values clarification and goal setting, whole farm planning, business plan development, and low-cost, sustainable farming methods.
farm beginnings provides 43 hours of training and hands-on learning opportunities in the form of classroom sessions, farm tours, field days, workshops and accessing an extensive farmer network. It is a 10-month training and support effort. farmers and other agricultural professionals are the primary presenters, mentors and steering committee members.”
bottom line ….. it’s integral, we feel, to the success of bossy acres.
not only to be the best we can be for ourselves and our farm, but to you, our community, as well.
also…big thanks to lsp for the latest video they took of us as part of their fundraising efforts for ‘give to the max’ day! although crazy cold and windy …. we enjoyed ourselves!
*to view the short video, go here.
*to become a member of land stewardship project, click here.
garlic planting is a festive opportunity … wouldn’t you agree?
…especially when ya have to rock out about 1,000 cloves!
so we grabbed a couple of our fellow garlic lovers and gathered together as the garlic gang for a sun-filled saturday morning.
we couldn’t have asked for a better morning and afternoon.
the soil was lookin’ healthy and cozy….worm castings were on standby.
it was time, my friends.
oh yes….it was time.
aside from measuring and lining up our rows, digging the trenches and so on….part of our prep work and laying down a good foundation for our seed garlic was in the amazing benefits of worm castings.
here’s a little excerpt from our local supplier, vermagreen organics about the benefits of vermiculture to one’s growing system:
“getting plants off to the right start is a significant part of what earthworm castings can provide for gardeners and growers. like infant formula, there are many great quality synthetically produced fertilizers, but none of them can provide the intrinsic value that mother nature can provide. earthworm castings, with all of the micronutrients and helpful microbes, can be likened to mother’s milk for your soil and have proven to be a great natural way to assist your plants in establishing strong root systems, higher yields and improved disease resistance.”
each trench and clove got its blanket of worm castings before settling into the soil bed for their overwintering nap.
we did our garlic on 10×10 spacings …. 10 inches between each clove and 10 inches between each row within the bed. this will allow them to have enough personal space to do their thang!
and just like that, we hammered out the planting in an easy, breezy, few hours!
but … then again, we did have this task master on us all day …..
how great is minneapolis….so many wonderful restaurants and cafes….and so many that truly support their local farmer.
we’ve been happy to provide bossy’s gourmet greens to:
you can consistently find our gourmet greens at blue ox coffee company – located on 38th and chicago avenue in south minneapolis. be sure to check them out…..one kick-butt cup of specialty coffee!
have you ever had a burning desire and
passion to just get out there and pursue your dream?
that’s the story of bossy acres.
it all started when i got my first taste of working on an organic vegetable farm back in michigan….funny farm organics, in the very small town of grant.
long hours…sweaty backs….dirty hands….deep in the soil….the intoxicating smells of the earth…of nature….and the sounds…oh the sounds….of birds chirping…of grasshoppers leaping from one plant to the next…..of peace.
i loved it.
and then there were the farmers’ markets. gorgeous displays…all the people…..chattin’ veggies….recipes….seeing their smiles and hearing them rave over our tomatoes … rainbow carrots…it was a high.
i loved it.
from there, i moved here to minnesota – took on another internship that focused on organic veggies and livestock. i quickly established an even greater appreciation for my food and meat and dairy. i learned homesteading in a whole different way ….. making our own maple syrup…keeping bees….brewing beer, hard cider, and wine….baking bread….being resourceful….living off the land ….
i loved it.
and then that fire in the belly thing hit and there was no turning back.
it was time for bossy acres.
it was time to pursue our dream.
our passion of living a life that is sustainable and in many ways, self-sufficient.
a life of meaning, of balance, of health.
and so that’s the journey we’re on today.
of nourishing ourselves and our community.
on july 4, 2011 we decided to pull the trigger and finally start bossy acres!
we posted an ad outlining our interests and specifications in renting land – hittin’ up various listservs and even craigslist. within a few hours, we had a pretty good week of appointments lined up with various landowners and farmers.
after makin’ our rounds – checking out a handful of places – we found the place for us!
nestled among the wonderful biodiversity that native grasses, towering trees, wetlands, pasture, and lakes offer….there it was…..a humble, 2-acre plot. one, that for the last 20 years, has been in pasture mix and only hayed by the neighboring farmer.
so there it sat…full of potential….free of harsh chemicals….ready for the bossy!
another bonus…..it’s just an easy 35 mile drive from our place here in south minneapolis. not only is that convenient for my daily commute, it’s a manageable distance for serving our various markets in the cities, as well.
we were fortunate to find a landlord that farms with the same respect for the land as us…..one that grows organically and understands the importance of biodiversity and working with the environment around us.
we were excited to say the least ….. bossy acres was becoming a reality…..finally!
time to get to work!
*bossy acres is currently farming on rented land in dayton, minnesota
so bossy had the awesome opportunity of hosting a csa booth at the minnesota state fair these past two days.
thousands of people came thru and rocked our little bossy world – chattin’ organics, local food, farmin’ goodness, and of course…hopin’ for a chance to win one of our mini-shares for next season.
nearly 500 entries …..
and the lucky winner is ……
claire s. out of minneapolis!!!
congratulations, claire! we’ll be in touch!