Featured Sustainable Producer Spotlight Story
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Loon Organics is a testament to the success of farm internships and mentoring.
Located in Hutchinson, Minnesota, Loon Organics is in its 10th season of independent farming. This 40-acre organic farm grows around 7 acres of certified organic vegetables and herbs. It is owned by Laura Frerichs and Adam Cullip.
Laura and Adam started their farming careers by working on a variety of farms as interns and paid labor. Through this learning process they were able to experience different types of farming methods as well as different types of crop production. The experiences they received while working for various farmers before starting their very own farm was, to them, indispensible.
In 2005, the owners of Gardens of Egan, a farm where they had been working, offered Laura and Adam the opportunity to rent 2 acres. This opportunity not only gave them land, but also the ability to borrow equipment, as well as the advantage of continuing to work for (to supplement their own farm income) and be mentored by the owners of the Gardens of Eagan, the Diffleys. "The farming knowledge that they have is invaluable to beginners such as us," wrote Laura in an article in New Farm Journals about their plans to rent from the Diffleys. "It increases our chances of success tenfold upon tenfold." On those 2 acres, Loon Organics was born.
Soon after establishing Loon Organics, Laura and Adam started looking for their own land. Though the search took them several years, their patience was rewarded when they found an existing organic CSA vegetable operation for sale where they are now located.
In their initial year on their new land, Loon Farms had around 125 CSA members, many of whom were subscribers from the previous farm. Since then they have grown tremendously. Their CSA now has 200+ members. They also sell to local retailers, restaurants, and to the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis.
Their desire to be a sustainable enterprise went hand in hand with their desire to farm. They started early on to make sustainability a priority, evidenced by their electric row-crop tractor that they converted from a gasoline 1970s-era Hefty-G.
Their focus on sustainability goes beyond environmental concerns; soil conservation, soil building, and all the other challenges that being organically certified entails. They also believe that social, financial, and even emotional sustainability are a huge necessity for a truly sustainable farming enterprise.
Because of the huge benefits Laura and Adam received from the wisdom and help of established farmers, they also desire to share their farming knowledge. Currently they are achieving this by offering employment opportunities to other aspiring farmers.
Loon Organics' website: http://www.loonorganics.com/
To find out more about Loon Organics check out Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture's case study about Loon Organics here: http://sustagprofiles.info/loon_intro2.html
For a directory of Sustainable Farming Internships and Apprenticeships go to: https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/internships/index.php
To learn more about Loon Organic's electric tractor see:
Farm to Market with Loon Organics: https://vimeo.com/12983923
The Sustainable Producer Spotlight is offered as a celebration of those who practice sustainable and organic agriculture and is not intended as an endorsement of the featured operations or products.
This page was last updated on: June 29, 2015