In the midst of the ongoing barrage of bad news about the way the current American administration is treating the earth and the people who depend on it, some good news:
It began Sunday evening, after a hearty meal with Tom’s cousin Kathy’s whole clan, grown kids and grandchildren crowding the big table, dogs underneath. A scoop of locally-made ice cream (another story) topped the perfect whole wheat crust on Kathy’s mouth-watering strawberry rhubarb pie. The flour in the crust, Kathy told us, was organically grown and milled just down the road at her friends’ place, Early Morning Harvest organic farm and mill.
The next morning, Kathy’s friend, Ronda Hafner, gave us a tour. We saw the mill first. The grain gets separated from the chaff in a big sifter before being milled.
So many products are milled and packaged there:
The farm, originally a dairy operation, has been in the family for generations with a notable exception of the period when it was taken over by eminent domain by the DNR (that’s the Department of Natural Resources, not a last wish) so a coal-powered energy plant could be put in there. After a number of years, when the coal plant never materialized, the grandchildren, Jeff and Sharon Hafner, were able to buy back a portion of the property from the government. It’s now farmed by Ronda’s husband Earl and their son Jeff, and provides grain, milled products, a huge array of aqua-ponically grown vegetables and herbs, and some organically raised meat to stores, restaurants, co-ops, and individuals in the Des Moines area and beyond.
The aquaponic operation came before the mill. Now there are big greenhouses with hydroponic beds and even more raised beds outdoors, all irrigated with the water from the tilapia tanks.
This old fish swims over today hello to visitors as they come into the greenhouses.
Hello to you, too!