Luke Johnson is the fourth generation to farm this land. Luke married Liz Kurkowski right here on the farm in 2013. Both Luke and Liz are active in the day to day activities of planning, planting, harvesting, selling and everything that needs doing on a farm. Luke and Liz are raising their son, Skip, who is the fifth generation of Johnson's on the farm.
Luke enjoys the physical work of farming. It's a sort of cross-training exercise for swimming. Luke is a U.S. Masters National Champion in the men's mile and an Ironman triathlete. He is the head coach for the Elk River High School Girls' and the Cooper High School Boys' swim teams.
One of the most frequent questions we receive is if we are an organic farm. We have chosen a method that we call "sustainably grown." All of our crops are herbicide and pesticide free. We use a light application of nitrogen fertilizer. Sustainable agriculture strives to leave the land in as good - and hopefully better - shape than when farming has begun on it. It is a way of farming that preserves the land for use by generations to come.
GMO is a big "no-no" on our farm. We carefully select our seed sources to avoid the possibility of using genetically modified seeds. About half of our seeds are of "heirloom" varieties - generally, this means that the type has been around for at least 50 years. We also plant a lot of F1 hybrids - but this is different than GMO. F1 hybrids result from the natural crossing of two lines of the same type of plant species. GMO result from genetically engineering plants with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals.
Here is Liz, weeding the carrots. We weed lots of things by hand and now have a mechanical weeder (yea, baby!) to help with weeds in the pumpkins and larger crops. We use insect netting and pick pests every day to stay ahead of them. This is more labor intensive than using "cides," but we feel it's worth it and know that our customers appreciate the health benefits of herbicide and pesticide free food.
We love bees!
Bees are extremely important to not only our farm, but to the environment in general. If honeybees disappear, they'll take some of our healthiest foods with them, along with beautiful flowering trees and all sorts of domestic and wild flowers. We have four colonies of bees near our berry fields. IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO BEES, PLEASE TAKE PRECAUTIONS. The bees are not aggressive. However, we understand that bees can present a serious threat to people with an allergy to bee stings and want you to be aware that there are bees on the farm.
We support local business and are proud members of the following organizations:
Minnesota Fresh Farm hires youth workers every spring. We need help on weekends in March and April to get the nursery plants ready, and all summer long for field work. Farms in Minnesota can hire youth as young as 12 years old. Many of our workers start when they are that age. Hours are generally kept to four hour shifts for the youngest workers and increase as the workers mature.
Please contact Sharon Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Sharon is a contributor to The Courier newspaper. Click on the image, below, to read the full article.