Festival of Farms to feature two Watertown farms

The Crow River Sustainable Farming Association is presenting tours of four farms in the Montrose and Watertown area, with an end-of-the-day social gathering at a fifth farm, all happening on Saturday, July 13.

The entire event is free to the public, with donations to Sustainable Farming Association’s Crow River Chapter accepted at each location. You can see a diverse array of sustainable farming practices including vegetables, sheep, turkeys, chickens, cattle and more.

Festival of Farms is a statewide event produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.

There are three separate tour times at three of the farms, so you can pick and choose which ones you want to visit at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.  True Cost Farm in Montrose (below) will only tour at 11 a.m., so if you want to see this operation, go there first.

True Cost Farm, (www.truecostfarm.com) located at 4432 County Road 12 S. in Montrose, which will do one tour only at 11 a.m. Owners Jack and Betsy McCann raise a variety of rare livestock breeds, selected for their deep flavors and excellent health. Grown in natural living conditions, the animals are treated with care and respect, and are regularly rotated to fresh pastures, ensuring their access to the most nutritious organic feed possible. True Cost Farm carefully and artfully processes the meat using traditional techniques. Pork, beef, chicken and eggs are available monthly through their delivered seasonal packages.

The second farm near Montrose, JPR Acres, (www.jpracres.com), located at 10389 Baker Avenue SW, is a family owned and operated farm built around producing food that is nutrient-rich and tastes great. Emphasizing an environment-friendly approach, Kerry Skelton uses a rotational grazing system to improve soil life and animal health. All of the farm’s livestock and poultry — turkey, duck, chicken, lamb — are traditional heritage breeds chosen for their ability to thrive on pasture as well for their outstanding flavor.

Sweet Beet Farm (sweetbeetfarm.com), located at 11549 Highway 25 SW in Watertown, is a fourth-generation family farm founded in 1883. Young farmers Nick and Amelia Neaton are in their fifth year supplying quality, 100-percent naturally grown produce, eggs and lamb to the Twin Cities metropolitan area. They grow food the way it wants to be grown—naturally, without chemicals. Their farming methods respect the diversity of their land, water and wildlife so that the next generation of farmers can also enjoy this healthy, thriving place. Nick and Amelia farm alongside Nick’s parents, who raise corn, soybeans, small grains and sheep.

Also near Watertown, Prairie Sun Farm  (www.prairiesunfarm.com) at 10330 Highway 25 SW, Watertown, started with a single building, then they restored a prairie, and now there’s a large vegetable garden. During the last 8 years, Julie and Dan Geiger have been transitioning their 40-acre farm from conventional corn and soybeans into a diversified, productive landscape. In 2010, they received organic certification and started a 25-member Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operation. The next year they added a hoophouse/greenhouse and started selling to a local restaurant.  And in 2012 Julie and Dan finally built a house for themselves on the land. They believe that this constantly evolving farm continues to teach them how to live with nature and grow great vegetables.

At the end of the tours, all Festival of Farms attendees are invited to a “social” at Nature’s Nest Farm Bed and Breakfast(naturesnestfarm.com), 5412 Brighton Avenue SE, Montrose.  Festivities begin at 4 p.m., and will feature light refreshments using products from the participating farms. Feel free to bring a dish or beverages to share.

For further information, visit www.sfa-mn.org, or call Nick Neaton at 952-807-8324.