Welcome to The Good Earth

Thanks for coming to our virtual farm! The Good Earth is a vegetable farm located just south of Lennox, South Dakota…about 15 minutes south of Sioux Falls. Nancy, Jeff and a few great people grow a variety of vegetables and fruits using organic methods. We deliver a box of ripe produce to you during the growing season.

The 2017 season is starting to take shape and we will offer shares in the CSA on a limited basis. Contact us for more information.

 

Nancy, Jeff, and all the Animals

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About Us

The Good Earth is more than just a farm. It’s a place where Jeff, Nancy, the animals, apprentices, WWOOFers, Marv (Nancy’s Dad), Steve, and all slew of incredible people hang out to plant, weed, and harvest fruits and vegetables. In addition to the humans that reside here, there is a menagerie of barnyard animals that coexist with us. They are here to live out their natural lives doing what animals do.

The Good Earth is embarking on its 7th CSA season. Farming is about hard work, observation, and optimism. This season we are pulling back in an effort to find a work/life/farm balance that is sustainable. What this means is that the CSA is extremely limited as both Jeff and Nancy will be working off of the farm. We will still welcome WWOOFers, visitors and field trips, but on an limited basis.

We sell our produce primarily through the Community Supported Agriculture model. This model creates a sense of community-something that’s very important to us. You as the consumer will have the benefit of knowing where your food is grown and the people who grow it. Membership signup for 2017 is underway–for more information, please contact Nancy@thegoodearth.us. 

Nancy / Farmer

Nancy was raised on a farm in Northwest Iowa. She made the unfortunate mistake of naming several of the farm animals (Bill the cow, Buckwheat the sheep, Get Away from Me the goose) and upon leaving the farm became a vegetarian and a teacher. She spends most of her day on the farm breaking lawnmowers, growing decorative gourds, and counting turkeys. 

Jeff / Hayseed

Jeff grew up all over the place, but mostly on small hobby-farms from Oregon to Iowa. He, too, made the mistake of naming (and occasionally riding) farm animals and consequently doesn’t eat meat. After spending most of a year riding a sailboat in the Pacific Ocean, he knew he couldn’t possibly go back to life under fluorescent lights and behind a desk and instead has chosen a life under the sun and sky and behind a tractor wheel and a hoe. He intends to have the greatest farmer-tan anyone has ever seen!

Conrad / Farm Dog

Conrad is a tried and true city dog. He is adjusting to life on the farm but is distressed by the lack of readily available cheese and squirrels. Conrad’s favorite place to be on the farm is in the car heading to town. Conrad is diabetic, blind, deaf and very demanding which is why we love him so much.

Owly / Exterminator

Owley is the Great Horned Owl that lives in the barn. She is responsible for the lack of squirrels and possibly the reason why Conrad likes to hang out in the car. Owly and her son Atticus (hatched in the barn in 2011) are as much a part of this farm as we are.  It’s worth driving out some evening to hear them in the trees. 

Lucky aka Felix/Scaredy Cat

Felix was rescued from the death chamber at SCRC by Cora Lee.  He is livin’ the dream in the sheep barn and occasionally knocks on the front door of the house for food. He has been a great mentor to Pearl and Reinhold.

Buck/ I am not a Pit Bull

Buck was living at 12 Hills Dog rescue in Nebraska.  We were looking for a Red Heeler to wrangle T-Bone and chew up irrigation tape.  He does one more than the other.  Buck is named after Pearl S Buck, author of the novel The Good Earth–our other option was to name him after the main character–but he just doesn’t look like a Wang.  Although, Jeff did think yelling “Wang” would be more fun.

T-Bone/Entertainment

T-Bone is a miniature bull and after being on the farm for five years he has finally stopped trying to kill us. His low center of gravity, large head and tiny horns makes him a force to be reckoned with.  His kryptonite is honeydew melon and spent grains from the brewers at Monks and Woodgrain Brewery. 

(T) Rex/Nag

T-Rex was brought to the farm to keep T-Bone company.  Rex’s mane and coat are beautiful–like something out of a Whitesnake video.  Rex quickly became the boss of T-Bone and in turn, T-Bone is now much nicer to us.

The Chickens

The Chickens are by far the most comical barnyard animal. Every chicken expression and every cartoon chicken are based in fact as near as we can tell. There was a brief attempt to name them after the characters of Downton Abbey, but they won’t sand still long enough.  The coop does function much like Downton, pecking order and all.

Claire

Claire is a pardoned turkey from our 2015 flock. In true House of Cards fashion she was smart enough to hide weeks in advance of Thanksgiving only to return after the rest of the flock had met its demise.

Reinhold

Reinhold is the another cat on the farm and easily the craziest. Named after famed mountaineer Reinhold Messner, this little guy does his namesake proud. There is no tree, building, or person he will not scale.

Maria

Maria and Baby Rita Donkey came to us a part of a relocation/rescue effort by one of our amazing shareholders and friends. Maria came to us in Sept of 2015 with a baby in her belly. Rita was born on March 11, 2016 and is the cutest baby mini donkey we have ever seen. Her foot speed is amazing and Maria is a very protective mom 

Quackers

Quackers is the lone duck on the farm who came to us as a trade for some roosters. For 6 months we thought Quackers was a boy then one day she started laying eggs. She insists on living with the chickens and Claire. Our attempts to put her in the pond have fallen short and only result in her having to run with her little duck legs back to the coop.

The Rabbits

White rabbit and Grey rabbit are the two remaining rabbits on the farm. They live in harmony with the poultry and cats. I half expect to see them walking around with tuxedos and top hats soon.  

Harriet and Charlie

Harriet and Charlie are the latest additions to the farm and are easily the most unruly. Harriet was a three week old piglet someone found running down the interstate. There was no way we could resist her charms! A few weeks later, Charlie came to us and made our farm animal family complete. Buck was extremely relieved as Harriet finally realized that she was a pig and not a dog. Soon they will both be full grown and be able to break down our front door.  

 

 

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Membership

In an effort to keep our sanity our 2017 CSA is extremely limited. We are planning a small CSA which will allow us time to work off the farm and enjoy the summer. If you are still interested in getting involved email Nancy@thegoodearth.us for more info.

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FAQ's

 

How do I get my hands on my veggies?

We will have two locations for the 2017 season–Cleaver’s Market on Wednesdays and The Natural Foods Co-Op on Saturday mornings.
 

My family won’t eat cucumbers, so what do I do with them?

We know that there are just some vegetables that people don’t like but will get in their box anyway. You can give them away to another person, animal, compost pile-or leave them with us at the location and we will do it for you.

What if we are going on vacation for a week?

What happens to our food? You can donate that week’s share to Feeding America. You can tell one of your friends to pick it up and let them enjoy some fresh food. Just let us know–we are here for you.

Payment Info

We are just a little farm, so cash or check works out just fine.

So....what is a CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture is a different way of buying fruits, vegetables, and other items. In this case, a customer (you) creates a relationship with a farmer (us–Jeff and Nancy) by paying for a ‘share’ in the farm. As a shareholder, the customer shares in the risk and the reward of the yield from that farm. You’ll know exactly where your food comes from, heck–you can even come out and harvest it yourself! But if you don’t want to pick it yourself, we (and by “we”, I mean Jeff), will deliver it to a central drop-off in Sioux Falls. Your box of deliciousness will be waiting for you on on your pickup day for approximately 13 weeks starting at the beginning of July.

what kind of veggies do you grow?

We try to keep things simple and grow mostly stuff that you’d find in a grocery store. In 2017 we’ll plant a great variety of different fruits and veggies and about 6 herbs. Expect lots of varieties of tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, carrots, beans, beets, winterr and summer squash, sweet corn, pumpkins, popcorn,  cabbage, kale, chard, melons, peas, radishes, and a few more unique items that’ll be a surprise.

Who built this awesome website?

Bryan over at Optic Impulse. Check out his other work at www.opticimpulse.com. He also designed, from scratch, the logo. He’s got game.

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BLOG

5 years before the plow

August 9, 2015 News

It’s the middle of August and I’m finally getting around to writing a blog. My first of the season. 

We chose to give gardening/farming a shot a few years ago for a few very specific reasons: we wanted to work outside as much as possible, we wanted to do something universally positive  with the rest of our lives (meaningful work), and we wanted to create a sense of community centered around this old farm and the produce that grows on it. A community of good people, good deeds, and thoughtful conversation. We wanted to create something different in South Dakota-a healthy foods movement centered on local agriculture. After all, the reason we were even considering doing this was that we ourselves had had such an experience-we just happened to be in Mexico when it happened.

5 years into our experiment, I feel that we have somehow failed. 

Looking back at ourselves imagining what our farm would be like in 5 years we had some pretty lofty dreams. We knew that farming would be hard work.  We wanted that. But aside from the planting, weeding, and harvesting, we envisioned a community of friends surrounding the farm-shareholders, old friends, and family spending time on the farm to bond with new friends while simultaneously learning about their food.  Bonfires. Kids classes. Community outreach. Square dances…well, maybe not square dances…And we had a little of that in our first year or two. Not to the extent that we’d hoped, but we had time to spend with our families.  We had picnics and marshmallow roasts. Some of our city friends came to visit us and we relished the time with them, again. Old friends in new places. And we had lots of shareholders and their families visit the farm. It gave us joy to show their children where their food was growing-to pull a carrot from the ground, brush off the dirt, and hand it to a nervous 4 year old. And to watch as the child reluctantly took a bite, followed by another and after a bit was pulling carrots by himself.  Dozens of times we’d just started making dinner after working 12 hours in the field and we’d hear a car come down the driveway…another shareholder coming to visit at 8:30 on a Thursday night. We’d stop making dinner, put our boots back on, and show them around the place-happily trading our home cooked dinner and ice cold beer for an opportunity to talk to another family about the importance of fresh food.  We always had frozen pizzas on hand and we’d just heat one up once the sun went down.

But then something happened.  Something changed. We were 3 years into farming and hadn’t made a dime of profit. We began trying to sell produce in other ways to try to get to profitability. Office deliveries. Farm stands in businesses. Market stands. Restaurants. Grocery stores. And we got closer to the farm operating in the black. But that progress was not without a cost. We had no spare time. Out the door as early as 3 am…dinner on the table each night at 8:30 or 9:00. 6 days a week. Sundays were days for us to fix things that broke during the week, do laundry, do grocery shopping, and sleep. If friends or family wanted to visit we just had to tell them that we weren’t available. Call us again in October.  

Only in October we didn’t have time. I went back to work at the grain elevator in an attempt to put some money back in the bank. Nancy went to work at her two jobs-in Sioux Falls and at a bar/restaurant in Lennox. My first day back at the grain elevator started at noon on a Monday-I literally drove the delivery truck straight from Feeding South Dakota (where I had dropped off a few thousand pounds of squash) to the elevator. My first week was 91 hours. We both worked 7 days a week for the next 6 weeks. By mid-December we had paid off the annual farm loss and were back in the black. 

The cost of lost or damaged friendships was incalculable. Not having time to return your mothers phone calls? How do you put a price on that? It’s OK that we’ll never get to go to a baseball game again. Or travel to Europe in summer. Or go backpacking in the mountains. Or take a summer bike ride. But even hard work has its limits and not having time to have a casual conversation with an old friend is unacceptable. The farm can’t have any more of me.

The farm is out of balance. We’ve lost track of why it was that we wanted to do this in the first place. We commonly talk about sustainability of the farm as being a balance of financial sustainability, environmental sustainability, and the sustainability of our energies.  Two of the three were in serious question. But Nancy and I are optimists. And despite the floods of 2014, the season ended as perhaps our best growing season. We were optimistic that the CSA would turn the corner in 2015 and we’d get to our goal and push our farm into the black-allowing us to hire a few more employees and lessen the load on us.  Our regular CSA retention rate was usually around 30%-very low by any standards. But last season had been pretty darned good. Our shareholders got as much food as they could take for the last few weeks of the season and everyone seemed incredibly satisfied.

Skip forward to this season. It seems that our “take what you need” strategy at the stands backfired. Our retention rate was a slightly improved, but nearly every shareholder downsized their share…full shares to half shares, half shares to quarters. We have as many shareholders and are feeding as many families but our revenues are down considerably.  Couple that with more pick up locations and delivery options and we’re working harder than ever and have less time to enjoy the lifestyle promised by living in the country. Oh. And we’re going to lose a lot more money than we did last year.  Not great. 

These are troubling times for us. It’s pretty clear after 5 years of farming that the financials may never pan out. And if they do, at what additional cost? Our marriage? Our health? Neither are acceptable costs. And yet it’s hard to just quit. Last night we sat around a fire and some of our summer crew played instruments and sang songs. It was the first time all year that we actually had time to sit and relax. As they played and enjoyed themselves I sat in a dark shadow and held back tears. It’s hard to imagine going back to town and getting a regular job. They don’t offer moments like that. The cost for that moment was that we skipped the wedding of a friend. We were simply too tired to drive into town. I guess life has its trade-offs. 

We’ve done the math already for this season and it’s official: our CSA revenues will run out well before the end of the season. We’ve both lined up jobs for when our growing season ends.  Hopefully we can get our farm debts paid down a little sooner than last season so we can take the time to talk about the future and if farming plays a part of it. We both hope that it does. It’s the most meaningful work what we will ever do. 

 

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