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Posted 11/19/2014 1:37pm by Gary Brever.

 

This article came out in August and because of how busy that time of year is I didn't have time to properly respond to it.

Don't Let your Children Grow Up to be Farmers-- NYTIMES

 

 


I've now been farming for over 16 years, and I can say that the article resonates. Organics has been very trendy during this time. Top Chefs have earned huge reputations using local and organic produce. Stores such as Whole Foods and other middle men processors (and even several larger Co-ops) have seen their stocks sky rocket. However, the tide of popularity of locavore movement has not had much impact for financial success for the many farmers who are at the heart of the food movement. It is such an irony when I go to a store and see the faces of my fellow farmers used as pitchmen in the stores glossy display advertisements, but look down and see California organic produce because the produce manager was unwilling to pay the premium needed by the local producer.
What I feel people need to understand is that there is a reason that local producers need a premium for their food. 

#1 If we want to see real change away from the industrial model it's important to know that the reason why the industrial model of farming is so efficient is because it treats land and people as machines, which can be worked to the max and discarded when not useful anymore. We need to realize it's difficult for small farmers to compete on with a farming industry that uses a labor pool that is treated very similar to slaves. 

 Olga, Haley and sophie — at Ploughshare Farm.


#2 We need to realize that local climates are much more vulnerable to unpredictable weather conditions. Most of the produce in the United States is now grown in the deserts of California where factors such as water are controlled. Growing vegetables in a place like MN means that we are under constant threat of thunderstorms, frost, snow etc. which can and do devastate our crops annually. Does this mean that it's better to be growing in a place like California because of this? Absolutely not, especially when you think about how vulnerable our water supply is in the Western United States plus transporting food 1500 miles uses up the other limited resource of oil.

#3-- Nutrient Density of our food supply begins in the soil. When settlers first arrived to the midwest they were astounded by the rich, black top soil that went several feet down. Such great land was the result of tens of thousands of years of buffalo and other herd animals plodding over the plains of the midwest. It also was built up by the elaborate root systems and the microbiological network of the native prairie grasses. Such nutrient density is vital to the health of our food which in turn is vital to our health. Most produce today that is found in the grocery store is devoid of the minerals and nutrients that our bodies need (it takes on average 8 plates of spinach to equate to the same amount of nutrients our grandparents were receiving). Because of the lack of nutrients, we as a population are obese but starving.

#4--Purchasing local food can be seen as an investment in our food security. There maybe a time that our borders will be limited, and our population does not have access to food. Whether it be threats of a pandemic, war, or a break down of our energy grid, there is great value in investing now into our local food system. Just one example of a threat is that Dr. Michael Osterholm of the U of M has been warning us for years that it is not a matter of "if" a pandemic will affect us but it is a matter of "when." The best way to come through such dire situations without panic and mayhem is if we are prepared for them now. We pay for insurance on our homes because of the possibilities of the unforeseen. Why not invest in our food security?

5.Finally, (I don't know really if there is a "finally"-- I could go on about the importance of buying locally). It's important to realize the knowledge that is lost by losing our farmers. The average age of a farmer today is 57 years old. Our operations are very complicated systems. It's not about just going out and throwing some seeds in the ground and watching them grow. Rather, it takes years to learn how to grow well. I've heard that it takes 3 generations to create a farm to point to where it can THRIVE. If we don't nourish the farmers in the same way that they have cultivated the land, we put at risk the future of strong communities, a healthy population, and a clean environment.

 


We are usually working from 6am to at least 9pm most days if anyone wishes to join us.

The bottom line is this. If you want to see change on this planet I see the small farm movement as being a CRITICAL piece to this. There is a group of us small farmers that have been pioneers to this movement. We have taken a lot of risks financially. We have put more time and energy into our farm operations than most consumers could ever conceive, sacrificing both health and many times family. The only way that we can have sustainable farming into the future is to realize that farmers cannot continue to hold up the whole movement on our backs. We need your support. We need consumers to start to participate more in this relationship to the land, to the workers, and to how your food is grown. I believe that the concept of COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE is key to the absolute survival to the inroads that we have made in the last 15 years. We need you to invest in your beliefs by purchasing your CSA share early and volunteering when your farmer hosts farm events. Basically I challenge you all to break down the mentality of consumer/customer mentality that is pervasive in every other transaction you make and instead make your food purchase an intimate one based out of the vision of hope for the future.

 

 

Posted 11/3/2014 4:42pm by Gary Brever.

 

Ploughshare Farm CSA Member:


Another season at Ploughshare Farm is coming to an end.  I (Gary) have been growing vegetables since 1998 so this will be my 16th year of developing as a farmer. Many of you may not realize how much of rarity this actually is. Well over a majority of the folks that get into vegetable farming do not survive through their first 5 year and the average age of a farmer in the United States is now 57 years old. Our farm is seen as a model of success not only through out MN but has gained a national reputation.  This in large part has to do with the wonderful support from many of you, our members through out the years.  Thank you!!

    Like every business though, we did not magically start as a successful operation.  When I first started out farming I began on my own with just a couple acres, a rototiller and a small Ford 9N tractor.  Last week on a cold, rainy fall day I was going through pictures from those early years... not digital photos.  But rather, pictures taken with an actual camera from the days when we actually had to go into store and get our film developed. I have shared with you some of them on the bottom of this message.

    

Thank you for your on-going support of Ploughshare Farm.  It is our passion to bring our members great tasting, nutrient rich, organic vegetables. We hope you enjoyed this past season, and we'd like to make a special, limited time offer for you to reserve your 2015 share.


Here are a several ways you can save on your 2015 share:

  • Renew today and save!:  Order today until December 1st, 2014 and receive next year's CSA share at 2014 pricing. 
  • Pay in full with a check:Save a 3% charge if you pay in full via check.
  • Order the correct share size for your family: One of the most frequent comments we receive every year on surveys is "my share was too big." If that was the case for your family, consider downsizing to the mini share or splitting a full share with a friend.
  • Bundle your shares with the 3 Season Share:Save if you purchase a bundled CSA share which includes Summer, Fall and Frozen Winter CSA share packages.  Available in both Full and Mini.
  • Space out your payments:Schedule payment plans are always available if paying by credit card or direct withdrawal from your bank account.

Thank you in advance for your continued support of Ploughshare Farm and sustainable agriculture. We sincerely appreciate your help in making Ploughshare Farm a success. Together we can make a difference in this world!  To renew your membership go to: http://ploughsharefarm.com/members/returning

 

For those of you who submitted your surveys, thank you. Your feedback is appreciated. You may still fill out a survey by going to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BTRW8XF:

We are still analyzing the results of your surveys from the 2014 season.  

1.One of the clear notes that we received is on our lettuce mix being too damp this year which hurt the quality considerably.  In the previous years we did not wash the salad mix unless it rained and this kept the quality high.  We will either go back to that method or try to find a machine that can dry salad in the quantities which we grow (hundreds of pounds a week).

2. More broccoli and cauliflower.  Every year is different.  Some years one item does well and one does not.  This year we continued to plant a lot of broccoli and cauliflower but because of the weather and soil conditions a lot of it did not size up like we would like.  Next year we will grow much more of our brassicas on heavier ground which should increase the size of the heads. Every year we also get requests for more peas.  As I spoke about earlier in the season... because we are organic and cannot treat our seed, we have had poor germination.  We may have nailed down our variety this year to a type that does well in our soil. Next year we hope to have better germination.  We certainly planted plenty each year.

3.Tomatoes:Some of you complained about the tomatoes arriving to you bruised.  When we put them in bags and pack a large quantity in a box it's difficult to keep the bottom ones from squishing.  We will look for better containers to pack them in for next year.

Overwhelmingly your comments were very positive.  I shared these with our entire crew and they love your kind words of appreciation !!

We look forward to you coming back next year as we continue to strive to produce the best quality, nutrient dense, organic vegetables in the state.

 

 

   A very young (24) farmer Gary, holding his son Ivan. He got started farming on a Catholic Worker vegetable farm in Washington State, using draft horses and serving the poor.

 

 

 

Jennifer driving the John Deere A one of the first years in MN.

Our boys grew up on the farm, got to know the interns and had many adventures.

The second year that we were in MN we were selling at the Midtown Farmer's market.  We did this two years before expanding our CSA.  It was a long drive. 

We've had some great get togethers at Ploughshare Farm, gathering families together for fellowship, food and to see where there food is coming from.

 

 

Our wonderful friends and long time CSA members, Dave and Alice Anderson.  Dave comes out yearly to help out at work parties or random days in the fields.

Posted 6/16/2014 8:38pm by Gary Brever.

2014 Members, We invite you to order a share in our our flower share delivery service.  The first delivery will be this Thursday. Please register before midnight on Tuesday.  Flowers are grown by a different local farmer, but we will be delivering them (along with the regular deliveries) and making them available for our members to purchase.  If you wish to purchase a flower share and are already a member, please "update" you membership by going to the following link: http://www.ploughsharefarm.com/members/updatemembership


Below is additional information on the flower shares:


 

 


 


We are a family farm, growing over 250 varieties of decorative plants forMinnesota’s top designers, and now offering these same florist grade flowers to members of Ploughshare Farm! For each of twelve weeks, starting around late June, members will receive a bunch of seasonal flowers, from the garden favorites that everyone loves to the more exotic botanicals known only to boutique designers. Most will last over a week, so you can combine flowers from one share to the next. Indulge your inner designer! Divide your share into multiple vases, give some to friends…you will enjoy an abundance of beautiful, fresh, local flowers.

 

       
        

 

 

 

Fresh flowers all summer long - 12 shares for only $236.90, tax included!

 

Best of all, our growing practices are similar to Gary’s – we maintain our rich soil with compost, rotate our crops, and never use synthetic pesticides. Buying local from Prairie Garden Farm means not having to worry about chemical residues, unfair labor practices, or the petroleum used to ship flowers half-way around the world.

PrairieGardenFarm – Fresh, local flowers, grown with care

Learn more about our farm:

www.prairie-garden.com

 



Posted 3/27/2014 3:52pm by Gary Brever.

Ploughshare Members,

Thank you for your membership into the 2014 CSA Season.  We ABSOLUTELY APPRECIATE your business!

 

Spring has SPRUNG!! At least at Ploughshare Farm.  We started seeding in the greenhouse almost three weeks ago and onions, leeks and other delights are already popping out of the potting mix. This week we are starting the peppers, eggplant and a few greenhouse tomatoes in our germination chamber. Over the course of the next month we will be busy in the greenhouse, giving a lot of the plants a head start before going into the ground.  Then in about late-April we should be ready to be planting out doors.  In early June we will already be starting our first delivery of the CSA season.

seeding

I want to remind you that your membership is VITAL to our success. We have members that have been receiving Ploughshare veggies for the last 6, 7 and even 10 years!  Their kids have literally grown up with Ploughshare vegetables.  Such relationships have helped our business grown strong over the years.

Because it hasn't exactly been spring like, memberships are down a bit in the month of March.  Understandably, people are just not thinking yet about summer veggies.  I need your help to reverse this trend... I encourage you to speak with your friends, co-workers and neighbors about signing up with Ploughshare Farm.  I encourage you to create a post in the next couple days on Facebook, letting your Facebook friends know about Ploughshare. In addition, I've included a couple links to fliers that you can print off to help spread the word. (see below)

I know our members well enough to know that you all will chip in to do your part to be the Community in CSA.

Thank you in advance,

Farmer Gary

Ploughshare Farm Tear Sheet

Ploughshare Presentation

 

Posted 12/30/2013 12:23pm by Gary Brever.



      

 

 I realize that with the holidays upon us  the thought of fresh summer vegetables are not in the forefront of many people's minds.  However, I ask you today to take a moment and realize what an important role Ploughshare Farm has served in Minnesota. 



For the last 10 years our vision has remained the same: to participate in the development of a healthy future for people, wildlife and the environment by growing, sourcing and providing food fostered with integrity, all while celebrating the flavors and shared joys of the table

We're especially proud that since our founding, we've accomplished the following:

  • Grower of the freshest, nutrient rich vegetables available in the area.
  • Provided over 100 thousand pounds of produce to local and regional food shelves
  • Developed the concept of the “Frozen Winter Shares” which was featured on the nationally broadcasted radio show, “The Splendid Table.”
  • Voted Farmer of the Year in 2009 by the “Edible Twin Cities”
  • MN Farmer of the year 2012 by Jaycees 
  • Provided on-farm education to over 60 interns in organic agriculture
  • Widely known educator and advocate for sustainable agriculture.

 

We appreciate your support of Ploughshare Farm throughout the years. As we move forward into our second decade of service, please consider supporting our farm and our vision for the future in one of the following ways:

 

  1. Purchase a CSA Share for the 2014 Season (Discount available before midnight December 31st)
  2. Purchase a Frozen Winter Share (deliveries start in two weeks).
  3. Make a donation to the “Harvest for the Hungry Program” (tax deductable)
  4. Purchase a gift certificate or CSA share for your employees, coworkers or family.
 
 
 

 Sincerely,


      Gary Brever

 

Posted 11/26/2013 2:34pm by Gary Brever.

 

 

Ploughshare Farm CSA Member:

Thank you for your on-going support of Ploughshare Farm.  It is our passion to bring our members great tasting, nutrient rich, organic vegetables. We hope you enjoyed this past season, and we'd like to make a special, limited time offer for you to reserve your 2014 share.


Here are a several ways you can save on your 2014 share:

  • Renew today and save!:  Previous members have until January 1st, 2014 to receive the renewal discount, saving up to $45 on the total cost of a 2014 CSA share. This discount will automatically be deducted from your invoice price if ordering before January 1st.(no coupon code needed)
  • Pay in full with a check:Save a 3% charge if you pay in full via check.
  • Order the correct share size for your family: One of the most frequent comments we receive every year on surveys is "my share was too big." If that was the case for your family, consider downsizing to the mini share or splitting a full share with a friend.
  • Bundle your shares:(New 3 Season Share)Save if you purchase a bundled CSA share which includes Summer, Fall and Frozen Winter CSA share packages.  Available in both Full and Mini.
  • Space out your payments:Schedule payment plans are always available if paying by credit card or direct withdrawal from your bank account.

We are making at least one delivery change for the 2014 season and are no longer planning on using the East Side Coop as a drop site.  Instead, I encourage members to use the Robbinsdale site.  If there is a member in the North East Minneapolis area who would be interested in being a drop site coordinator please contact me.

Thank you in advance for your continued support of Ploughshare Farm and sustainable agriculture. We sincerely appreciate your help in making Ploughshare Farm a success. Together we can make a difference in this world!

To renew your membership go to: http://ploughsharefarm.com/members/returning

Are you wondering what changes we be making out in the fields for the 2014 season?


 One of the biggest shifts that we are making at Ploughshare Farm is that we have retired our internship program. We have worked with many wonderful, hard working young people over the past 11 years who have really flavored our season with their energy.  However, at Ploughshare Farm we are really focused on quality and consistency of our vegetables. Going forward we intend to attract more long term, stable workers who will come back year after year and have this high expectation and experience of quality from the beginning of the season. If you know of anyone please have them contact me at organicploughshare@gmail.com
One of the bigger changes for Ploughshare Farm in 2014 is in fact no change. For the last 11 years we have grown our CSA farm from a 40 member, 3 acre farm to where we are now at 600 members and close to 35 acres in production. We really feel that our CSA farm now is at a sustainable size and do not intend to grow our membership for the foreseeable future.  Instead, we will work to improve on what we are doing already and strive to produce the best quality, nutrient dense, organic vegetables in the state.

 

 

 


Sincerely,

Farmer Gary

 

 



Posted 11/26/2013 2:15pm by Gary Brever.

 



Ploughshare Farm CSA Member:

Thank you for your on-going support of Ploughshare Farm.  It is our passion to bring our members great tasting, nutrient rich, organic vegetables. We hope you enjoyed this past season, and we'd like to make a special, limited time offer for you to reserve your 2014 share.


Here are a several ways you can save on your 2014 share:

  • Renew today and save!:  Previous members have until January 1st, 2014 to receive the renewal discount, saving up to $45 on the total cost of a 2014 CSA share. This discount will automatically be deducted from your invoice price if ordering before January 1st.(no coupon code needed)
  • Pay in full with a check:Save a 3% charge if you pay in full via check.
  • Order the correct share size for your family: One of the most frequent comments we receive every year on surveys is "my share was too big." If that was the case for your family, consider downsizing to the mini share or splitting a full share with a friend.
  • Bundle your shares:(New 3 Season Share)Save if you purchase a bundled CSA share which includes Summer, Fall and Frozen Winter CSA share packages.  Available in both Full and Mini.
  • Space out your payments:Schedule payment plans are always available if paying by credit card or direct withdrawal from your bank account.

We are making at least one delivery change for the 2014 season and are no longer planning on using the East Side Coop as a drop site.  Instead, I encourage members to use the Robbinsdale site.  If there is a member in the North East Minneapolis area who would be interested in being a drop site coordinator please contact me.

Thank you in advance for your continued support of Ploughshare Farm and sustainable agriculture. We sincerely appreciate your help in making Ploughshare Farm a success. Together we can make a difference in this world!

To renew your membership go to: http://ploughsharefarm.com/members/returning

Are you wondering what changes we be making out in the fields for the 2014 season?


 One of the biggest shifts that we are making at Ploughshare Farm is that we have retired our internship program. We have worked with many wonderful, hard working young people over the past 11 years who have really flavored our season with their energy.  However, at Ploughshare Farm we are really focused on quality and consistency of our vegetables. Going forward we intend to attract more long term, stable workers who will come back year after year and have this high expectation and experience of quality from the beginning of the season. If you know of anyone please have them contact me at organicploughshare@gmail.com
One of the bigger changes for Ploughshare Farm in 2014 is in fact no change. For the last 11 years we have grown our CSA farm from a 40 member, 3 acre farm to where we are now at 600 members and close to 35 acres in production. We really feel that our CSA farm now is at a sustainable size and do not intend to grow our membership for the foreseeable future.  Instead, we will work to improve on what we are doing already and strive to produce the best quality, nutrient dense, organic vegetables in the state.

 


 


Sincerely,

Farmer Gary


 



Order your 2014 CSA Storage share today!!

 

 

2014 Storage shares are still available. Click HERE 

Ploughshare Video

 

 

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