Sunshine and blue skies are a perfect match for the beauty of Stone’s Throw Farm. What better way to welcome summer than to stroll through grassy fields and growing veggies. Catherine’s dog, Sheba, greeted us when we arrived at her farm in Wrenshall, MN. A barking dog seems to be a traditional farm greeting, one that I really enjoy.
Catherine’s energy-efficient home, designed by her partner, is brand new to the farm. (You can see his work here. Warning: you're going to want him to design your next house.) Catherine spent a lot of time in her pop-up camper before that. She is in her eighth season at Stone’s Throw Farm and runs everything primarily by herself. She has a part-time intern, Brit, and Catherine’s parents offer a lending hand in the summertime. Her parents are seasoned farmers from Iowa. Although Catherine grew up on their farm, her current farming experience of growing organic vegetables feels quite different than theirs, which was a cattle farm.
Catherine did a variety of other work before settling on farming. She worked for good companies, but office work just didn’t suit her. She craved more activity and knew she liked being outside. She decided to intern on a farm in Massachusetts and from there worked on the Food Farm, which is very near her current location.
Catherine has chicks for the first time this year. My kids busied themselves picking flowers from the field to feed the chirping chicks. It is almost time for the chicks to move outside and get accustomed to their new portable coops. Hopefully Catherine's CSA members will enjoy fresh eggs in the near future.
When I asked Catherine about her favorite moments in farming, she immediately mentioned her CSA members. Their appreciation is very meaningful. She also talked about the experience of just being on the farm. “...Coming out in the morning and there’s a morning dove singing. The other day Brit and I were weeding onions and there were all these frogs singing to us from the ditch. That was really nice. I enjoy being outside a lot.“
The weather is, of course, always tricky to navigate. “The weather doesn’t cooperate a lot of the time,” Catherine said with a chuckle. She had pigs during the flood a few years ago. People from neighboring farms came over to help her get the pigs out from the deep mud. She is taking a break from pigs for the first time this year. Although she really enjoys having pigs around, it can be a more stressful endeavor.
We saw the neighbor’s bee hives across the field. The bees are especially helpful for growing squash and melons. We spotted a few bees resting on some dandelions around the field. Catherine expressed a lot of gratitude for the bees contribution to the farm.
Although it might make sense for Catherine to expand the farm at this point, she is not very interested in being a “boss.” The farm is at a good size right now where it can be profitable and, as a self-proclaimed introvert, she can enjoy working solo most of the time.
Catherine described a little of what drew her to farming: “There is something about manual labor that is very satisfying. I like the physical challenges of this job as well as the mental challenges of figuring out how to produce a constant supply of food for 17 weeks…It's very rewarding to be growing good food for people.”
To learn more about Stone's Throw Farm you can visit their website. When I spoke with Catherine, she had one CSA slot still available for this year.