Duffy Meadows officially began in 2016 with the purchase of land in central Minnesota, but the idea started decades earlier. Like many Americans, we find the food landscape to be both incredible and frightening.
It is amazing what our forebears have discovered, built, and created. America literally feeds the world.
Unfortunately, it’s a system with questionable sustainability and expensive (and often unseen) costs. We want to be part of the solution to these problems – most notably: improving the quality, hardiness, and availability of edible plants, enhancing long term honey bee health, and providing knowledge to successfully integrate agriculture with wildlife habitat.
We named our farm “Duffy Meadows” to honor the first US owners of the land – The Duffy family. When we stepped on the land for the first time, we saw so much possibility and we imagine that is also how the Duffy family felt all those years ago.
Our first order of business – to clean up the land. Years of farming debris (nails, sheet metal, rotten boards, equipment, nails, barbed wire, old appliances, and nails) littered the land. Did I mention nails? We have removed buckets and buckets of nails and are still finding them! This clean-up takes more work than you would imagine – especially without big equipment to help.
Then we started planting trees.
When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago! So we started right away. We planted hundreds of trees – balsam fir, blue spruce, frasier fir, maples, hackberries, redbuds, American Lindens, pears, walnuts, chestnuts, cherries, plums, willows, and apples….
The soil is sandy and dry. In the summer, the soil really heats up and it takes a tough plant to make it through our long dry summers. And then….as to be expected in Minnesota….the weather turns excessively cold and if we’re lucky; blankets the land in many feet of snow.
Before we took ownership in 2016, the land was rented for oats and rye.
We decided to end the commercial agreement and plant native prairie. The seeds from the prairie are sold to restoration companies and individuals working to improve native habitat. Restoring the land is a sustainable choice: The grass and forb cover will replenish the topsoil while also providing habitat for wildlife – including ground birds, deer, butterflies and bees.
Our acreage is surrounded by oak/aspen/hazel forest, pine barrens, wetlands, sand dunes, wild prairies, and farmlands. This is a unique environment to raise honey bees. We are committed to providing quality honey/wax/bees and making a difference in honey bee health & productivity in northern climates.
The perennial orchard is filled with many rare/unusual fruit bearing plants we grow to research new cold & drought hardy varieties. We are working with nature to improve our food choices, production methods, and product quality without the use of insecticides, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers. We believe that good soil produces healthy plants and healthy food.
Over time, this land will bear much fruit – both in scientific discoveries and actual fruit!