Down On The Farm

On Oct. 15, the Gardens of Eagan (GOE) harvest crew made their last rounds through the well-loved fields of our
Northfield farm. The air was crisp and the sky lined with high white clouds. Five knife-wielding pairs of hands made
their ways between the rows of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale, filling bin after bin with this year’s bounty.
Along with the other cold-storage crops- shallots, onions, garlic and sweet potatoes-they were sent to the
Cooperative Partners Warehouse, where they waited until they found a home on your dinner tables.

The last harvest of the year is always bittersweet. And this year it was especially so, as it marked the last time GOE
will operate as a part of the Wedge. Instead of drawing up spring planting plans, the remaining farm staff spent the
end of October taking the disc to the fields one final time, tilling under the plants that will give back their bounty
of nutrients to the soil, and putting in cover crops to ready the farm for the next owners. “We battened down
the hatches, cleaned to the corners and turned in the keys,” said Farm Director Linda Halley. As announced in the
spring, GOE is for sale. And while we don’t yet know who will take ownership, thanks to the work of Linda and Wedge
leadership, we do know that it will be farmed inperpetuity.

In September, Dakota County purchased GOE’s farmland development rights through the Farmland & Natural Areas Protection
Program. The program, unique in the country, has to date protected 7,341 acres through permanent agricultural
conservation easements. Landowners retain the rights to use, rent, transfer or sell the land; but the property within
the easement cannot be developed. It was a two-year process, now 100 percent complete, that ensures the 128 acres of
GOE will never become a strip mall or a mini mart. Our neighbors to the north and west have also enrolled in the
program, which means that, together, we’ll protect well over 300 contiguous acres in Northfield from encroaching
sprawl.

“The last 12 months, we’ve seen new developments eating up agricultural lands south of the Twin Cities, and it’s
marching this way,” said Halley. “In 20 years, there will be a big appetite for others around us to sell out and
develop, and whoever owns it then won’t have that temptation. When the Wedge bought GOE, it was with a vision of
creating the next generation of farmers to feed the needs of the Twin Cities. In many ways I think we realized that;
a lot of people learned a lot of skills here, and this was a catalyst for some of them to go off and start their own
farms. And while I think our work wasn’t quite done, it makes me feel good that, in the time we owned GOE, we took
this land and transitioned it to organic and saved it for farmland forever.”

Gardens of Eagan Accomplishments

  • Sold over 2 million pounds of certified organic produce within the metro area.
  • Grew nearly 1 million certified organic plants for local home gardeners.
  • Created more resilient communities by providing thousands of pounds of donated organic produce to area
    food pantries.
  • Protected 116 acres of farmland, transitioning it to certified organic land.
  • Supported 4 new, successful farm businesses through the farm incubator program.