8/10/2022 11:38:00 AM Chisago County Farm Family of the Year is CSA, part of farmer's market
For over 40 years about 90 percent of all Chisago County’s annual Farm Family of the Year honorees have been row crop farmers and/or dairy operations. Farm Family of the Year was created by U of MN Extension in 1979 for recognizing farmers and their contributions to local agriculture. Crops and animals were pretty much what farming consisted of.
This year, though, the Chisago Farm Family of the Year is a small operation growing vegetables for subscribers with an orchard in the mix; and more and more counties’ honorees resemble this trend.
Margaret and Andrew Hanson-Pierre and the Clover Bee Farm, located by the threshing show grounds, are part of a movement in farming seeking to harvest bushels, not acres, at a time. They don’t worry about price at the livestock exchanges or the flow at the grain terminals. Most of their farm work is done by hand.
The university-written profiles of Farm Families of the Year (Anoka and Pine County this year, for example) explain how farmers are opting for growing subscription produce crops for CSA’s, or who are teaming up with organic restaurants and farmers’ markets. Community Supported Agriculture “members” act on a desire to be involved in their food supply and this has helped this sector thrive. They get that there’s room for the chain stores and the roadside stands. Clover Bee Farm has 60 CSA members.
Chisago County’s Margaret and Andrew tell the Extension program coordinators that they are all about getting quality food to those who might not get it otherwise. The game plan also includes donations to area food shelves. Upward of 1,500 pounds of produce is the tally so far.
Clover Bee Farm is named for a line in an Emily Dickinson poem.
The Hanson-Pierres rented their property for about three years and then purchased it. They met on-line in 2011, found the farmland and married a year or two into their farming adventure. Life is now all about growing 150 varieties of organic vegetable and herb crops, on a few acres, and nurturing a small orchard. They have a booth at the farmers’ market in Minneapolis in the Kingsfield neighborhood as well.
Their Clover Bee Farm website might also periodically announce a public event, like a recent wood-fired pizza night.
Today, August 4, the 85 Minnesota counties that selected farm families to honor are represented at FarmFest near Redwood Falls.
Extension Dean Bev Durgan commented how it’s nice to see the numbers up after covid-19 restrictions dampened some of the program excitement. Said Durgan, “This year’s Farm Families reflect the breadth and variety of agriculture in our state...the U of M is proud to honor their innovation and dedication to... agriculture.”