After an extra long Fall, snow blankets the gently rolling landscape. While it seems the farm sleeps, in addition to plant care in the hoop house, the staff of Frogtown Farm is busy at work, designing, developing, and envisioning the farm fields and forests. One important aspect of the farming practice is the use of the principles of Permaculture to shape the landscape. To quote cofounder Bill Mollison, “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.” What this means for Frogtown Farm is a combination of annual vegetable production integrated into a food forest of fruit bearing trees and forage areas.
As the farm matures, more and more space will be dedicated to perennial production in order to minimize labor and maximize production. A couple of features of Permaculture we are weaving into the mix are; careful evaluation of water management to minimize erosion, a pollinator sanctuary along the south edge of the farm, and rows of perennial crops like asparagus and strawberries between sections of heavily mulched annual vegetables like tomatoes and peppers. The goal is a regenerative system where the soil is continuously improved rather than degraded. Beyond the environmental advantages, applying the principles of Permaculture to the site will also allow use of Frogtown Farm for Permaculture training. We are very fortunate to have guidance from Paula Westmoreland of Ecological Design during this process.
A familiar winter sound draws my attention back from visions of summer abundance. Outside the city a snow blower eases past the butterfly sculpture framing the entrance where Milton Ave gives way to the south entrance of the farm and blows a path due north toward the parking lot. Yes, it’s winter in Minnesota, but a winter bursting with anticipation of spring!