A great article from The Line: An Artist’s Coop for Urban Farmers
An exciting urban ag project is sprouting up in the Twin Cities. Coming together to transform a hidden gem of an agricultural property on the border of St. Paul into an organic oasis, a collaboration of local growers and farmers have joined forces with the shared vision of turning Grow! Twin Cities into a model urban farm and multi-cultural growers co-op.
Grow! Twin Cities is a group of small farming and agriculture businesses that came together in spring of 2011 with the shared vision of creating an organic urban farming co-op on a 13-acre Maplewood property that is just 3.5 miles north of the State Capitol. The property is the site of a former commercial greenhouse business and includes older greenhouses and over an acre of tillable land. We share tools, contacts, skills, supplies and products. Each farmer has a different product and all farmers practice natural growing techniques. Our farming businesses are now working towards organizing as a farmer’s cooperative.
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Grow! Twin Cities is comprised of the four following sustainable agriculture businesses:
Bossy Acres, launched in 2011, focuses its efforts around sustainable farming principles through organic and permaculture based techniques. In addition to their two-acre plot, they utilize greenhouse space within Grow! Twin Cities. Bossy’s markets include local co-ops, specialty grocers, small cafes/restaurants, farmers’ markets, direct-to-consumer, and through their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
Jeremy McAdams launched Cherry Tree House Mushrooms in 2009. He grows fresh and dried shiitake and oyster mushrooms on approximately 800 logs. This season he harvested about 400 pounds of mushrooms, which he sells to Twin Cities¹ grocers and restaurants and at farmers markets. Jeremy also offers log kits which are ready to fruit mushrooms. In 2011, Jeremy conducted six workshops on mushroom cultivation and presented to five organizations. Cherry Tree House Mushrooms is currently seeking organic certification.
Giving Tree Gardens has been building sustainable landscapes in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area for the past six years by offering consultation, design, installation, and maintenance of Earth-friendly, organic residential and commercial landscapes. Giving Tree uses over 100 cubic yards of compost in any given season to create their award-winning gardens. In order to sustainably produce holistically beneficial compost, Giving Tree has been working this past year with local coffee shops, coffee roasters, and juice bars to organize the collection and hauling of raw fruit and vegetable food waste to the Grow! Twin Cities farm site where the material is mixed with waste from our landscaping work and turned into fertile compost. In addition to supplying compost to our farm partners for their fertility needs, we plan to bag and sell some of this compost for the first time in spring of 2012.
Grassroot Growers was established in spring of 2011 as a new local nursery growing a variety of naturally-grown herbs and vegetable starts at the Grow! Twin Cities greenhouses. We offer our plants at wholesale prices to small local markets and garden centers, community gardens, and local groups interested in selling our plants for their fund-raising and community-organizing activities. Heirloom tomato plants are one of our specialties. We offer custom growing for wholesale customers. We also collect and reuse plastic pots and trays to keep them out of the waste stream and to keep our costs low.