We spend a lot of time talking to farmers, and we feel lucky to know the people who grow and raise our food. Our "Ask a Farmer" project makes it easy (and anonymous) to find out more about farming and food in southeastern Minnesota, and we'll connect you with the families who bring their talent and passion to Rochester every week at our markets.
Bring your question to the market and drop it in the basket at our red barn display, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll do our best to find a farmer who knows the answer and post it here!
What's the best part of being a farmer?
"It's gratifying to nourish our body with the fruits of our labor,
and share it with people we meet." - Cathy, Moenning Meats LLC
How did you learn to farm?
I started out going with neighbor kids out to bale hay at their grandparents'. When I got out of high school, I just went and got a job on a farm. I learned how to take care of animals. I loved being outside, and I loved the animals. It was expensive, so we had to take jobs doing things that paid better so we could save up money. We started small with four cows. Then when we saw a good deal we got pigs. We learned mostly by trial and error and watching other people in the beginning. Mistakes can be expensive. But you try to learn from them.
-Mike Vreeman, Vreeman Farms
What do you do when you are not farming?
We go snowmobiling, four-wheeling, and shoot BB guns.
We like to go to Dairy Queen and KFC.
-Colton, Vreeman Farms
Can you have a farm in a tiny house?
Tiny houses require you to think more about using space efficiently. Some ways to use space to get the most out of it are using containers to grow vertical gardens - some that use no dirt and use shredded wood, organic compost, etc. Aeroponic gardens use little water but it is highly enriched with nutrients and usually uses gravity to let the water go down to all the plants. Some people call them tower gardens - they're popular in urban areas.
Getting high yield in a small space requires research and planning. One high yield garden technique we did was a "three sisters garden." In a small 4 foot by 4 foot space outside in your yard you can get a big crop by planting complimentary plants. The native Americans and other indigenous people figured out how to do this. We planted squash, corn, and beans. The beans grow up the corn, the squash keeps weeds from growing, and the nutrients in the soil compliment each other.
-Hanna, Assistant Farmers Market Manager