We’re off to a great start!
It was a busy first Summer of growing and selling produce out of our yard/home in South Minneapolis- while continuing full time employment and attempting to complete our basement renovations, we were still able to get Bullthistle Gardens up and running! We’re a registered business with a website and social media pages – We’re members of the SFA and Minnesota Grown – we’re still undecided on Organic certification – not sure how feasible it would currently be for an operation of our scale – We (cont.pg.1) know that it can make a difference when it comes to marketing, but we don’t want that to be the primary justification for being certified. From a perspective of personal belief in Organic farming and the potential for best practice advocacy, it obviously makes sense.
Community Outreach & Partnerships / Networking
Being that Jack and Elsie are in 3rd and 5th grade, we thought donating vegetable starter plants to Minneapolis Public Schools as well as Minneapolis Parks, would be a good way to introduce our new business. The plants were used in the school gardens at the Howe School garden where Elsie attends, the MPS Culinary and Wellness garden and to to the Hiawatha Rec. Plus Youth Garden where Elsie and Jack attend after school.
Owned by the Minneapolis Parks and Rec. Board, the Hiawatha garden is run and operated by the staff and kids. From planting, weeding, and harvesting to preparing and eating the produce they grow – the kids are apart of the whole process.
A Backyard Transformation!
Raised beds for Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Chard, Kale, Baby Kale, Arugula, Radishes, Carrots, Bell Peppers, Summer Squash, Pumpkins and trellising systems for Tomatoes and Cucumbers. We used every square foot of available space our yard has to offer, we even grew Sunflowers on our driveway! We sold leaf lettuce to Gandhi Mahal Indian Cuisine in (cont.pg.2)
South Minneapolis, and sold a little bit of everything at the Northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market.
We were able to assemble and use a shade cloth system for the greens during extreme heat – We also applied some season extension practices in the end, but nothing compared to what I’ve been able to do w/the of hightunnel (greenhouse) space I’ve had access to through my full-time job over the years. However, in due time we’ll close that gap between seasons. Our primary goal is to find a hightunnel (greenhouse) location here in Minneapolis. In the meantime we’ll continue to get creative with cold frames and low tunnels – and who knows, we may even up putting a small structure in the backyard to hold us over.
Under the lights
The initial goal was to have a grow room built in the garage by Winter time to carry our momentum from the Fall into the off-season. A setup with a shelving system under LED lighting for Microgreens. Circumstances based around home renovations and full-time employment, prevented us from getting the room built in time. So we improvised and put in a cart system with lighting in the basement of the house- a similar set-up to one I’ve used for starting plants Throughout January we ran trials of different varieties of Microgreens and by the first week in February, we identified a few varieties to package and use as restaurant and store samples. Our primary target was a local Co-op, who ended up placing an order – We’ll promote it once the greens are on their shelves! We’ve also begun seeding Spinach and Lettuce in plug trays for March plantings – these transplants will be ready to harvest come the third week in April.