How did farmers spend their April?

Happy Cow at Johnson Family Pastures
The farmers behind Johnson Family Pastures are currently spreading red clover over their cattle's grazing land.

With the market season quickly approaching (opening weekend is May 18!), our farmers are busy getting ready for the season. The ground is not yet ready for planting, but there is plenty of other work to do. I reached out to our farmers to see what they’re up to and here is what they had to say.

Our apple growers, Denny from Havlicek’s Orchard, Rachel and Anton from Mary Dirty Face Farm, and Aaron from Brand Farms, are all finishing up tree pruning that couldn’t get done with so much snow on the ground this winter.

Liz and Curtis from Dancing the Land Farm are building a greenhouse, planting thousands of seeds and tending to very pregnant goats and sheep and the very first of the lambs and kids that are being born. They also just finished shearing their fiber herd of Angora goats and Icelandic sheep.

Covering a new greenhouse at dancing the Land Farm

Jean and Eldon from Davidson’s Farm are awaiting the arrival of their bees, which come from California and may be delayed as the queen has had difficulty going on her mating flights due to frequent rain.

Tamara and Chris from Johnson Family Pastures are spreading red clover on the pastures where the cattle, chickens and sheep rotationally graze in the summer. In the pig pasture they’re seeding fast-growing annuals like peas, oats and field turnips. They’ll be spending the end of April and May building fence to complete a pig pasture improvement project, which is funded by a Lakewinds Organic Field Fund grant, and they are fencing an additional 34 acres for their cattle and sheep.

Mike and Sherri from Brush Prairie Farm are working the equipment over, painting bee boxes, grafting fruit trees, servicing the seedlings and pruning.

Kristin from Tutti Fruitti’s is working in the greenhouse planting heirloom tomato varieties, bell peppers, parsley, cauliflower, broccoli and snow peas. Kristin is a new farmer leasing land from Big River Farms, which provides infrastructure and training to beginning farmers. The farm that houses their training program is also a vendor at Kingfield, teaching growers how best to market their product at a farmers market.

Janice from Jan’s Artisan Garden is awaiting signs of tulips, which usually start popping up around the second or third week of April. Her perennial plants are just starting to emerge and she planted out the first round of hardy annual flowers (snapdragons, Sweet William, Bells of Ireland). Those will be flowering for June markets, along with perennials like delphiniums and geum.

Paul and Chris from Foxtail Farm are finishing up their winter CSA share deliveries and doing field cleanup with the help of some workshare members. They’re also working on planting low tunnels in the field.

Sarah and Reuben from Grasshopper Farm just finished building a second greenhouse space to expand their seedling production for markets this year.

Hoophouse at Foxtail farm

Big River Farms began their field day schedule for their farmer education program. And Big River Farms staff and farmers will visit another farm incubator like theirs in Iowa, called Global Greens Farm. This program reconnects former refugee farmers with the land as they build their new life in the U.S.

Andrew and Margo from Clover Bee Farm are seeding in the greenhouse and have lots of fun flower varieties for everyone to create some space for butterflies. And they’re planting 10 apple trees, three pear trees and 15 raspberry plants. The ducks are laying, so they’ll have a good selection of duck eggs this season!

Betsy and Andy from Driftless Hills Farm are raising tiny chicks in the brooder. Their new laying hens are roving around in their mobile coop and are expected to begin laying soon. Their ewes continue to move around the pasture also looking for tender new grass. They are expecting lambs in the first weeks of May. And their pigs are just ready for butcher now and are spending their last days soaking up the new warmth and sunshine.

All of our farmers are hard at work preparing for the season and we look forward to enjoying the bounty they bring to Fulton, Nokomis, and Kingfield farmers markets each week. Fulton and Kingfield open the weekend of May 18 and Nokomis opens Wednesday, June 12. See you there!