Looking for a way to dig in to the earth, get your hands dirty, and be rewarded with real, good,
farm-grown food? Join the Crop mob
on Saturday, July 31, at 10am, for a weeding session at Riverbend Farm
in Delano, where
families, farmer wannabes, and food lovers will gather to help on the
farm and then enjoy a free lunch courtesy of Common Roots.
Located about 30 minutes west of the Twin Cities, Riverbend Farm is a 30-acre vegetable farm that's been certified organic since 1994. Run by Greg Reynolds, a long-time advocate for real, healthy food, Riverbend Farm has a fascinating history
The soil is mostly a sandy loam that was deposited by the Des Moines lobe of the Wisconsin Glacier and created by 10,000 years of trees and grass. The topography is slightly rolling. Originally, this was part of the Big Woods, an oak basswood savannah. In the late 1850s the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad was granted the odd numbered sections along the a right of way. The land surrounding the rail line was to be sold off to pay for the construction of the railroad. Cassels purchased a large tract north of the line.
...Raising corn for all those years was hard on the soil. The soil is fairly sandy and has a low organic matter content. Conventional farming does not replace organic matter lost to tillage, cultivation, and crop harvests. Even though Norman spread cow manure back on the fields, the soil was getting run down. In addition, chemical fertilizers and pesticides kill off or disable the soil bacteria that fix nitrogen and break down organic matter to release nutrients.
When Mary and I purchased this farm in 1992, about half of the farm was CRP (grass) and half was corn. We asked Norman to plant alfalfa on the part that had been in corn. The alfalfa would help rebuild the soil while we were in transition to becoming certified organic. It took several years for the soil biology to recover and come back to life.
Today, Riverbend Farm is a celebrated producer of organic veggies, supplying co-ops and restaurants like Common Roots and the Birchwood Cafe with fresh and healthy produce throughout the growing season. Saturday's event is free, and kids are encouraged to come, too. Not only can you learn more about the food you eat and how it's grown, you'll be able to enjoy the bounty with a free lunch after all of your dirt digging.