Who Are the Growers?

Mora, Cambridge, Vermillion Township, and Lake City on a Map

There are many specialty crop farmers in Minnesota, including farmers who have lived in Minnesota their whole lives, and farmers who immigrated here from other countries. What they all have in common is their love for growing plants. They also have a lot of knowledge about science and engineering in order to successfully grow these crops. Today they are educated in how to keep farmland healthy for years to come. Let’s meet some specialty crop growers!

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Mora, MN

Third Tree Farm

Ryan Stubby and Caroline Aoyama both love farming. They own Third Tree Farm near Mora, MN. Ryan and Caroline grow over 40 different kinds of vegetables and flowers. These crops include cucumbers and carrots and many varieties of cut flowers for bouquets. One of their favorite things to grow is carrots. Carrots take about 60 days to grow, from planting to harvesting. Carrots can grow in many different colors such as, yellow, red, orange and purple. Ryan likes orange carrots the best because he thinks they taste the sweetest. Have you ever eaten a carrot that wasn’t orange?

Lake City, MN

Pepin Heights Orchard

field of flowers

Pepin Heights grows apples on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. This area is especially good for apples because of its climate. For example, gentle springtime breezes through the valley reduce the risk of early frost damage. Pepin Heights sells fresh apples. They press apples to make apple juice and apple cider, too. They grow many apples developed by the University of Minnesota, including HoneyCrisp!

Workers pick and inspect every apple by hand before packing them for shipping. The apples are sold to retailers and distributors from Minnesota all the way to Texas.

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Vermillion Township, MN

Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) Farm

The HAFA Farm is part farm, part school. Its members are Hmong immigrants from Laos and Thailand. At HAFA, they grow over 160 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Instructors teach sustainable practices that will help farmers improve their land so they can grow on it for many years in the future.

HAFA’s top three crops are potatoes, carrots, and ground cherries. They sell their produce through farmers markets, wholesale, and CSA shares in the Twin Cities.

The Hmong culture is deeply rooted in agriculture. Many families farmed in Laos and Thailand for the sole purpose of feeding their families. Today members grow many mainstream crops (potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, etc.), but they also grow more ethnic produce such as bitter melon, bok choy, Thai basil, and Thai chili peppers.

Cambridge, MN

Dawn2Dusk Farm

Dusk2Dawn farmers

Moses Momanyi grew up working on a farm in rural Kenya. He immigrated (came to live permanently) to the United States in 2004. He then met his wife, Lonah, who also grew up farming in Kenya. Moses and Lonah started Dawn2Dusk Farm on rented farmland in Wisconsin. In 2020 they bought and moved onto their own farmland in Cambridge, Minnesota. They have been farming the land together and growing a variety of vegetables including arugula, spinach, radishes, peppers, and corn. Moses and Lonah also teach other new Americans from Africa about starting their own farms.

If You Were the Farmer

Which specialty crop would you most like to grow? What could you do with the crop when it is grown?

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Want to learn more about Minnesota farmers and the foods they grow?
Watch our Youtube playlist full of fun, food-focused videos!

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