Big Lake, Minnesota
By Annabelle Stoker
November 19, 2020
Jodi Brown and her husband, Ben, own Brown Family Farm, located in Big Lake, Minnesota. The couple has been farming together on rented land for the past ten years. This May, they moved onto land that they own themselves. On their ten tilled acres, Brown Family Farm grows over 125 varieties of produce, including staples such as squash and corn in addition to less common vegetables, like kohlrabi. The land they purchased was previously an alpaca farm, which, according to Jodi, means the soil health is far superior to other land they’ve worked in the past. Jodi spoke about the inherent uncertainties that come along with her job: as a result of excellent soil health, this year Brown Family Farm saw a yield twice as large as last year from the same number of squash seeds. Agriculture’s unpredictable nature often leads to surplus produce, and, in some instances, farmers like Jodi have trouble placing this produce before it goes bad. This fall, Brown Family Farms sent 2,000 pounds of this surplus squash to the Keystone Community Center with the help of The Farmlink Project. While Jodi says she and her husband always aim to get fresh produce to hungry people rather than leaving it in the fields, she emphasized that “it’s really awesome when [they] get paid for a portion of what they’re donating; The Farmlink Project’s assistance covers the cost of getting that produce out of the field.”
Brown Family Farms runs a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. In this program, community members buy a share (or several) of the produce they grow, essentially investing in the farm. Members receive boxes of fresh produce along with information from Jodi about the nutrition, storage, and preparation of each item in the box. Jodi said that for their customers, “it’s equally about getting fresh produce and about supporting local farmers.” The COVID-19 pandemic caused many to consider where their food comes from, and, according to Jodi, Brown Family Farm saw an influx of interest in their CSA when supermarkets lacked consistent fresh produce. In Minnesota, where harsh winters preclude year-round local food production, “this spring scared a lot of people and made them look at the food systems in place.” People appreciated having a more concrete connection to where their food came from.
Brown Family Farm takes the feeling of community a step further with the blog Jodi keeps updated with what’s happening on the farm. For farm news and fun recipes, check out their website!