As we continue our virtual field trips to different farms across Minnesota, we are delighted to share with a very unique farming operation. The New Roots Farm Incubator in Dilworth Minnesota, just east of the Fargo – Moorhead area, is probably not what you think of when you think about a farm.
One of the biggest hurdles new growers face is access to land that is affordable and suitable for farming. The farm incubator model is one solution that removes the land access barrier and connects these growers to affordable equipment, provides training and connections to markets to develop skills to launch a business!
Verna Kragnes, Executive Director of Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society in Moorhead, Minnesota saw the opportunity to connect new growers with land, and founded the New Roots Farm Incubator on lead land in Dilworth, Minnesota. PartnerSHIP4 Health, along with West Central Initiative has helped fund and support their efforts. The original idea goes back to a conversation between her and Jack Wood, one of the founders of ” Growing Together, a local non-profit, managing a series of F/M gardens. After considerable research and seeing the local need, Verna found that local families owning ethnic groceries were traveling to the Twin Cities to purchase produce because specific things they needed were not available in the local markets!
The New Roots Farm Incubator is accessible to farmers with fewer than 10 years of experience, or those who are New Americans, Native Americans, people of color, veterans or women.
An amazing story of success through New Roots Farm Incubator, is one of a gentleman named Simeon Bakunda. Simeon arrived in the region from the Congo in the middle of snowy November. Back home he grew his own food. As he sat and stared at the snow covered landscape, he wondered how to feed himself. He went to a local market, found a vegetable that he was familiar with, brought it home and preserved the seeds until spring and planted them. Now 8 years later, those same seeds have grown into what is known locally as ” Simeon’s Eggplant” and is grown in gardens all over the community!
We hope you have enjoyed the virtual tour and this amazing story of a co-op!