Discover Local Series: Owl Forest Farm, Forbes MN
After a few wrong turns, a myriad of not-so-choice words, one defeated call for directions, and a lengthy wait behind the backhoe of a trench digging crew, I finally arrived at the small, farm oasis that is Owl Forest Farm. There, patiently waiting for me, were the owner and grower-extraordinaire, Kate Paul; Natural Harvest’s Produce Buyer, Ashley Phoenix; and Darrel Swenson, an avid organic gardener himself and Natural Harvest’s Beverage/Coffee Buyer.
My approach to this visit was more naïve than my colleagues as I am not blessed with a green thumb nor am I well-versed in the produce itself; I, like many others, depend on folks like Kate to provide me with nutritionally-dense, chemical and GE-free produce…and then have places like Natural Harvest to tell me what it is and what to do with it.
So how does one find themselves establishing a farm in Northern Minnesota? Well, upon meeting Kate, what first struck me was her passion: her passion for what she does, the product she provides, and her unquestionable belief in the connection between humans and the environment in which we all live. We take care of the land and the land will take care of us. But there is a family history and connection to place weaved into the story as well.
The farm, located in the little community of Forbes, Minnesota, is directly across from the original homestead established by her great-grandfather, John Mobraten, in 1893. Kate spent her childhood in the community, one mile down the road from Owl Forest Farm’s current location and as we walked though the rows of green beans she reminisced about her childhood here, her mother’s garden, and the cooperative nature, then and now, of the neighbors that surround her. After a 17-year absence, she returned to the area to realize her dream of living and working closer to the land. So, equipped with some experience working on a Community Supported Farm in the TwinCities and a passion for a life lived organically, Owl Forest Farm was born in 2006.
“I am excited to be doing work here that I believe is very important: Providing high quality organic produce to the local community, while allowing community members to play an important role in the production of their own food. CSA provides a unique connection between the land, the grower, and the community; one that cannot be found anywhere else.” (Kate Paul)
After a bit of bean picking, we were rewarded with carrots for the road…and I got to take home a daikon radish and a tutorial on what to do with it. (I shredded and sautéed it with coconut oil, celery, garlic, ginger and a little curry powder. Yum.)
Owl Forest Farm grows a wide-variety of vegetables and herbs and works within the framework of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), where members pay in advance for a “Share” of what the farm produces in a growing season. Visit http://www.owlforestfarm.com to get on a waiting list or just visit us at Natural Harvest Food Co-op for the latest of Kate’s labor of love.
We look forward to offering: a few varieties of kale, zucchini, purple and green cauliflower, broccoli, daikon radishes, turnips, and later in the season hopefully we will get our hands on some storage onions and potatoes. We also carry her fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, and mint.
“I believe that everything you put into your body is medicine. It can heal you or it can hurt you, so it is important to choose wisely. Food grown on local ground without the input of chemicals in the growing or processing is the best medicine there is.” (Kate Paul, Proprietor of Owl Forest Farms)
Hope to see you soon at the Co-op!