39 episodes

Seasonal conversations on food and farming. Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota. www.sfa-mn.org

Dirt Rich Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 7 Ratings

Seasonal conversations on food and farming. Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota. www.sfa-mn.org

    39: Building Relationships and Telling Your Story

    39: Building Relationships and Telling Your Story

    Connecting with others and meeting new people has always been important to John Beaton, and it’s this flair for relationship building that is at the heart of his farm story.


    John and Emily Beaton operate Fairhaven Farm just north of Duluth, Minnesota. John got his start on a local CSA vegetable farm, where his mentor, Rick, eventually gave him space to plant his own field to start his farm business--something Rick’s own mentor had also done for him when he was starting out.


    A series of meet cutes and handshakes paved the way for the Beatons to buy a farm and grow their business in new directions. They were also privileged to have steady off-farm employment and financial support from family. John and Emily currently run a 50-member CSA on just shy of an acre of production, and grow plant starts for their local co-op and several other accounts in the region. These enterprises, too, grew out of personal connections and intention.


    After receiving so much support from others in purchasing a farm and getting started, John wants to do the same for other emerging farmers. Utilizing his firsthand experience with the process of finding and purchasing farmland, he serves as a Farmland Access Navigator through Renewing the Countryside’s Farmland Access Hub. Through this grant-funded program, he provides detailed, free guidance for land-seekers. He also serves as a Conservation Connector, helping connect historically underserved farmers with conservation programs such as EQIP and CSP (both of which his farm has applied for and received) that can provide some financial support.


    John intends to keep paying it forward. “We need more farms here, and whatever I can do to help people achieve that...that’s my goal.” This ethos is baked into Fairhaven Farm itself. He and Emily are looking to expand their gathering space centered around their pizza oven, building up a regional farm store and event space.


    To build relationships with others, John encourages fellow farmers to put themselves out there and tell their story. “Every bit of good fortune in one’s life comes from other people,” he says. And in connecting with others and authentically sharing one’s story, it creates opportunities to help each other out.


     


    John Beaton, Fairhaven Farm and Lake Superior Chapter member


    Jared Luhman, SFA Soil Health Lead


     


    Resources:


    Farmland Access Hub & Navigators


    Conservation Connections


    Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)


    Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)


     


    The viewpoints of the speakers expressed within or outside of this episode do not necessarily reflect the goals and mission of SFA.


    Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.


    Thoughts? Comments? Ideas? Leave us a review, or drop us a line on our Virtual Comment Box.

    • 50 min
    Revisited: Planting Minnesota Garlic

    Revisited: Planting Minnesota Garlic

    It's that time of year again! Garlic growers in Minnesota are preparing for planting. We're bringing this episode back into your feed to help you get ready with advice from two seasoned garlic growers: Jerry Ford and Sunny Ruthchild.


    ---------------------


    “Minnesotans don’t like that garlic. They don’t eat that spicy stuff, dontcha know?” Jerry and Sunny and their sold-out-by-August harvest beg to differ!


    Jerry Ford and Sunny Ruthchild are longtime friends in Minnesota garlic and organic farming. Sunny runs Merryweather Gardens near Walnut Grove, raising garlic, poultry, vegetables, and pigs who are happy to be the clean-up crew for her orchard. Jerry raises replacement dairy heifers, grass-fed beef, and garlic with his family at Living Song Farm near Howard Lake.


    Before they get back out there to plant next year’s garlic crop, they’re taking some time to compare notes and philosophies as they prepare for the next season and climate unknowns. They get into:


    Site Selection - Jerry’s land is hilly, Sunny’s land is flat. They both make it work.

    Soil Prep - “If you need to add chemicals to the soil, you need a different site.”

    Timing of planting

    Seed garlic and varietal selection - Seed garlic grown in Minnesota does well in Minnesota.

    First-time growers & gardeners - Porcelain varieties are a great place to start

    Dip treatments - Nah.

    Their agriculture philosophies

    Mulching

    Being adaptable to change in markets and climate


    Garlic is a high-value, premium crop here in Minnesota. As Sunny says, “the truth is, Minnesota can grow garlic. And the other truth is, people in Minnesota love good garlic, don’t let anybody tell you anything else.”


     


    Jerry Ford - Living Song Farm, SFA Network Coordinator


    Sunny Ruthchild - Merryweather Farm


    Katie Feterl - SFA Communications Director


    The viewpoints of the speakers expressed within or outside of this episode do not necessarily reflect the goals and mission of SFA.


     


    Resources:


    Minnesota Premium Garlic Project


    Minnesota Garlic Festival & Virtual Directory


    Dirt Rich Episode 6: Harvesting Minnesota Garlic


    SFA Garlic Videos

    • 58 min
    38: Getting Water Quality Certified

    38: Getting Water Quality Certified

    “It’s hard to find a Minnesotan that’s not proud of the fact that we’ve got so many wonderful lakes in our region and we’re the source for the Mississippi River...We have a lot of pride for our natural resources in this state and we have a lot of pride for our operations.” -Jennifer Wagner-Lahr


    The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) is a statewide opportunity for farmers to be recognized for their efforts to protect water quality. The certification also provides regulatory certainty for 10 years, and the process opens up opportunities for technical and financial assistance to help achieve certification.


    Farmers Jennifer and Larry Lahr laud the financial assistance and the guidance from their certifier, Mark Lefebvre, for helping make “the leap” in implementing some new practices into their crop and livestock operations comfortable. In this episode, the three guests share their experiences with getting certified under MAWQCP, some of the nuts and bolts behind the program and other opportunities for support, and the changes that they’ve seen on-farm as a result of implementing conservation and soil health building practices-- even in the face of drought conditions.


     


    Get started on program certification here or reach out to your local Soil Water Conservation District Office. More information on the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium pilot is available here.


     


    Katie Feterl, SFA Communications Director


    Mark Lefebvre, Stearns County SWCD Certifier, (320) 251-7800 x3, Mark.Lefebvre@mn.nacdnet.net


    Jennifer Wagner-Lahr, Lahr Heritage Acres


    Larry Lahr, Lahr Heritage Acres, (320) 761-3925, thenewcountrycat@yahoo.com


     


    The viewpoints of the speakers expressed within or outside of this episode do not necessarily reflect the goals and mission of SFA.


    Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.


    Thoughts? Comments? Ideas? Leave us a review, or drop us a line on our Virtual Comment Box.

    • 46 min
    37: Wisdom of the Prairie: Diversity, Connection, Community

    37: Wisdom of the Prairie: Diversity, Connection, Community

    Megan Benage, a Regional Ecologist for the Minnesota DNR, brings her passion for the prairie to 32 counties in southern Minnesota--and to thousands of listeners on the Prairie Pod, which she hosts with fellow scientists. And today, she brings it to Dirt Rich! 


    Once covering a full third of the state, Minnesota’s tallgrass prairie is now 235,000 acres of remnant reference prairie. Megan shares what the day in the life of an ecologist is like, and how her work intersects with agriculture. In fact, she describes the balanced prairie ecosystem function that she works towards as incredibly relevant to the farmer: “Every regenerative agriculture model that we have is based on how a prairie is just living its life.”


    There’s a lot to be learned from the prairie, especially in a changing climate. Megan distills it down to diversity, connection, and community. “When we put our natural resources first, we are putting ourselves first, because we all need the same basic things to live.”


    Additional Resources:


    Prairie Pod


    Xerces Society


    USDA NRCS


    Minnesota DNR


    ‘Beyond Your Backyard’ archive


     


    Katie Feterl, SFA Communications Director


    Megan Benage, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Regional Ecologist


    The viewpoints of the speakers expressed within or outside of this episode do not necessarily reflect the goals and mission of SFA.


    Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.


    Thoughts? Comments? Ideas? Leave us a review, or drop us a line on our Virtual Comment Box.

    • 41 min
    36: Growing Grazing Dairy Farmers

    36: Growing Grazing Dairy Farmers

    Angie Walter, the SFA/DGA Central Minnesota Education Coordinator, and her husband Nate run an organic dairy in Central Minnesota, and are also masters in the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program. Today’s episode features them in conversation with their first apprentice, Ryan Heinen, who now manages a dairy in Waukesha, Wisconsin. His passion for ecology and restoration led him to farming and to grass-based dairy, and DGA helped him build a solid foundation to take on a new endeavor.


    The Walters and Ryan share their experiences in the DGA program from both the master and apprentice perspectives--it was a positive and valuable learning experience for all.


    Angie highlights the value of networking events, such as pasture walks, to dairy farmers of all experience levels. There are two pasture walks remaining this season, one on August 24 in Verndale, MN, and one on September 9 in Brandon, MN. Both are free, they include lunch! More information and registration can be found on SFA’s DGA page.


     


    Katie Feterl, SFA Communications Director


    Angie Walter, SFA/DGA Central Minnesota Education Coordinator, Walter Dairy


    Nate Walter, Walter Dairy


    Ryan Heinen, Land and Livestock Manager, Gwenyn Hill Farm


     


    Additional Resources:


    Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship


    SFA/DGA Resources and Events


    Dirt Rich Episode 19: Family Dairies & Apprenticeships


     


    The viewpoints of the speakers expressed within or outside of this episode do not necessarily reflect the goals and mission of SFA.


    Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.


    Thoughts? Comments? Ideas? Leave us a review, or drop us a line on our Virtual Comment Box.

    • 23 min
    35: Pastured Pork & an Incubator Farm

    35: Pastured Pork & an Incubator Farm

    “What else is livestock farming but sort of a dance and a balance between farmer happiness, livestock happiness, and soil health happiness?”


    Dayna Burtness discusses her “pastured pig-centric farm,” marketing enterprise, and incubator farm near Spring Grove, in the Driftless region of Minnesota. Dayna is the sixth generation in her family to farm in Houston County, and she and her husband Nick Nguyen are finishing 75 mixed breed heritage pigs on pasture this season. They utilize a wagon wheel hub model and are constantly experimenting to improve soil health, pit happiness and health, and farmer happiness and health. 


    In her conversation with Jared Luhman, Dayna shares how her production system has evolved over time, her focus on soil health, her intentionality in the incubator farm, and her philosophy on marketing, pricing, and running a farm business. She also offers sage advice to those pursuing similar ventures, and plenty of examples of ‘failed’ and successful on-farm experiments.


     


    Jared Luhman, SFA Soil Health Lead


    Dayna Burtness, Nettle Valley Farm


     


    Additional Resources:


    Soil Health Case Studies Vol. 3, featuring Nettle Valley Farm


    “Building Profitable Farms through Direct Marketing” webinar video


    The viewpoints of the speakers expressed within or outside of this episode do not necessarily reflect the goals and mission of SFA.


    Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.


    Thoughts? Comments? Ideas? Leave us a review, or drop us a line on our Virtual Comment Box.

    • 1 hr 1 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
7 Ratings

7 Ratings

Zeke424 ,

Wonderful resource!

This podcast showcases knowledgeable and experienced interviewers speaking on putting soil health practices into action!

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