Local farmers welcome this season’s rain

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Last summer, most of Minnesota dealt with severe drought conditions. This made farming difficult. 

“Last year, it was just super, super dry, and that combined with the smoke from the fires we had and the air quality concerns,” said farmer John Hatcher. “It was a tough year for some vegetables. 

This season has offered its own challenges. 

“The beginning of the season was a little rough,” said farmer Heather-Marie Bloom. “It was cool and wet. Some of those early season things, carrots, beans, some of the lettuces, they didn’t do very well.”

Despite the chilly start to this season, crops are now plentiful.

“We’re picking tomatoes every single day,” said Hatcher. We’re picking cucumbers, pounds and pounds of cucumbers every single day, and summer squash the same way. And then we’ve got all the sweet onions and the potatoes.” 

The increased rainfall recently has resulted in more weeds and muddy walkways, but that is preferred over the alternative.

“It’s a little on the gushy side, but I would say not bad at all,” said Hatcher. “We definitely would take that over the drought conditions of last year.”

The Rising Phoenix Community Farm in Barnum provides food for their customers throughout the season as a CSA.

“CSA is community supported agriculture, so you buy into it like a buying club or a cooperative, and so people pay up front and it’s a shared risk,” explained Bloom. “People know that they’re giving you money ahead of time, but that’s used for infrastructure buying seeds, putting, buying equipment, and then the farmer does their best to then grow for 17, 16, 18 weeks, whatever is kind of set by the farmer.”

Thankfully, the farm has been having a great season, producing a variety of crops. 

“You have to have a variety, otherwise you get real sick of broccoli every week or I mean, you can even get sick of tomatoes, which sounds terrible,” said Bloom. “We have to make sure to have a variety of things. Sometimes things only show up for a couple of weeks and then they’re gone. Some things will be around for most of mid-summer, and then we can start looking forward to late summer and fall things as well, just to kind of mix it up a little bit.”

The farm sells their surplus weekly to anyone who stops by their farm stand. 

“Our farmstand is largely word of mouth, and it’s only on Friday afternoons,” said Hatcher. “It’s really fun. We get to know people who live in the area here and we kind of have our regulars who stop by and a lot of people know to come early because we sell out of the favorites pretty quickly.”

The farm stand will be open most Fridays until October. The latest updates can be found on the Rising Phoenix Community Farm Facebook page.