Festival of Farms tour is July 13

The Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota (SFA) is holding its annual Festival of Farms on Saturday, July 13, and Twin Cities-area residents are within easy driving distance of the Crow River Chapter’s events.

The SFA chapter will hold tours of four farms in the Montrose and Watertown areas of the western metro, with an end-of-the-day social gathering at a fifth farm. The entire event is free to the public, with donations to SFA’s Crow River Chapter accepted at each location.

You can see a diverse array of sustainable farming techniques, including techniques for raising vegetables, sheep, turkeys, chickens, cattle and more. There are three 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 them, go there first. Participating farms include:

True Cost Farm, located at 4432 County Road 12 S., Montrose, MN 55363, 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 fields of pasture, ensuring their access to the most nutritious organic feed possible. Pork, beef, chicken and eggs are available monthly through their delivered seasonal packages.

The second farm near Montrose, JPR Acres, located at 10389 Baker Avenue S.W., is a family owned and operated farm built around producing food that is nutrient-rich and tastes great. Emphasizing an environment-friendly approach, the Skelton family 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 reputation for outstanding flavor.

Sweet Beet Farm, located at 11549 Highway 25 S.W. in Watertown, MN 55388, is a fourth-generation family farm founded in 1883. Young farmers Nick and Amelia Neaton and their family are in their fifth year supplying quality, 100-percent naturally grown produce, eggs and lamb to the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Also near Watertown, at 10330 Highway 25 S.W., Prairie Sun Farm owners 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. 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 “post-festival social” at Nature’s Nest Farm Bed & Breakfast, 5412 Brighton Avenue S.E., Montrose, MN 55363. 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 about the events, go to http://www.sfa-mn.org/festival-of-farms/

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