Last weekend, the Organic Field School hosted its annual fundraiser at Kitchen in the Market, at Midtown Global Market. The organization is the nonprofit arm of the Wedge Co-op's organic farming program Gardens of Eagan. The Organic Field School offers educational programs and assistance to farmers while promoting the benefits of sustainable and organic farming methods to the public.
The event gave the public face time with several of the Twin Cities' premier organic farmers, including the ladies of Bossy Acres, Humble Pie, Fazenda Boa Terra, and Loon Organics. The fundraiser also featured a wide variety of local food products, including food from Foxy Falafel, Chow Girls Catering, and Froz Bros craft ice cream. Craft beers courtesy of local brewer Tallgrass Brewing were available, as were Joia Soda and wines from Stark Wines.
A raffle was held to help raise additional funds for the Organic Field School. Prizes included things like a mini-CSA share from Bossy Acres and an entire organic Thanksgiving dinner for eight.
Also in attendance were several of the Parasole group's chefs. They cooked up a variety of samples, including a Wild Acres turkey burger, and provided cooking demos.
Gardens of Eagan provides plots of organically certified land to young people who are looking to establish themselves in the world of farming. The rental farmland also comes with a variety of equipment that most young farmers can't afford in the early stages of their careers. The rental plots vary in size from half an acre to eight acres. This is commonly referred to as an incubator farm program, a system that is becoming more and more popular as a younger generation discovers the world of farming.
In addition to the land and equipment, Gardens of Eagan also offers educational programs through the Organic Field School, including classes on farm finance and basic marketing principles. The folks at Bossy Acres will be teaching a class in the spring on how farmers can benefit from social media.
We spoke with Bossy Acres' Karla Pankow (also known around town as Bossy K) about why programs like these are so important.
"Being part of an incubator farm basically puts all of the tools and infrastructure under one umbrella of support. For example, this past year we rented everything separately. We rented a greenhouse over in St. Paul, we rented land over near Rogers, and we didn't have a cooler, we didn't have a pack shed. You know, you're just kind of piecing it all together. An incubator program helps you bring all of that together."