Awesome Onion Planting Day at Riverbend Farm!

Organic certification is a substitute for knowing who's growing your food and how they're growing it.

- Greg Reynolds, May 24, 2009

What a day we had at Riverbend Farm! After a delicious breakfast of muffins, scones, and coffee at the Birchwood Cafe, our caravan left at about 9:30 Sunday morning (5/24) for Riverbend Farm, about 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis in Delano (another caravan left from Common Roots). About 25 of us arrived Riverbend at about 10:15, took a quick peek around, sun blocked up, met farm owners Greg and Mary Reynolds, and were off planting onions.

And oh, did we plant! The sun was hot and the soil was dry, but we planted 28 rows of red, green, white, purple, yellow, and green onions - 600 plants per row, 2-3 bulbs per plant. My quick math tells me that we planted somewhere between 35,000 and 50,000 onions, but I've heard stories of up to 60,000 from the people who were there (did you see that fish? He was THIS  BIG!).

All told, the group spent just over 7 hours in the sun, planting, eating, talking, chasing the kids, and getting to know each other. It was one of the funnest, most productive days I can remember, and my kids had a total blast. A few highlights:

  • Planting, planting, planting!
  • Amazing local, sustainable Minnesota food, provided by the Birchwood Cafe and Common Roots, including bagels (Common Roots makes some of the city's best), cookies, sandwiches, and a staggeringly delicious and plentiful variety of salads - supplemented by the freshest, just-picked radishes and arugula I've ever tasted. I can't say enough about Tracy Singleton and the Birchwood, their food, their commitment to local food and the community, and their consistency when it comes to walking the talk about local food. Tracy is incredibly passionate about food and food issues, and her menu and calendar - including events like this - are a testament to her energy and passion. Common Roots, owned by Danny Schwartzman, is another terrific Minneapolis spot, committed to improving the city one meal at a time.
  • A tour of Riverbend Farm, given by Greg Reynolds, who showed the kids all sorts of heavy duty farm equipment before taking us to see the river, his neighbors' bed and breakfast, garden, and "Hobbit house," and a slingshot for shooting pumpkins.
  • Chatting it up with great people like Tom Herbers and "Ivory Lodge," who taught me a bit about raw food and pointed me to their cool raw food and gardening blog Punk Rawk Labs.
  • Watching the kids plant tirelessly for hours, then run through an industrial strength sprinkler, soaking themselves silly.

Tracy from the Birchwood says we'll get a chance to harvest these same onions at the end of August, and I know that she and Danny from Common Roots have a jam-packed calendar of summer events to share. Please keep it in mind - it'd be great to see you at the next one.