EarthDance Farms has its roots in a fifteen-year-old girl's first encounter with organic agriculture.
Hoping to cultivate his daughter's love for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, Molly Rockamann's dad took her to visit Al and Caroline Mueller's organic farm in Ferguson.
The seed was sown. It took more than a decade to germinate, but germinate it did. Now what began in 2009 as an apprenticeship program at the Muellers' farm has grown into EarthDance. A year ago this week, with funding from the Open Space Council, the nonprofit was able to purchase the fourteen-acre urban farm where Rockamann's dream began.
Apprenticing at EarthDance Farms involves a great deal of fun. And weeds.
Today EarthDance plants and harvests organic produce, raises chickens and even keeps bees. The fruits of the farmers' labor can be purchased at the Tower Grove Farmers' Market, the Ferguson Farmers' Market and EarthDance's own CSA program.
The sign at the entrance to EarthDance Farms, made from repurposed windows.
The first CSA share of the season included rainbow Swiss chard, green garlic, radishes, shallot tops, arugula, mesclun and spicy braising greens.
This herb spiral should produce herbs longer into the season than traditional methods, using less space. Behind the herbs, a "Three Sisters Garden" features interplantings of corn, beans and squash, another naturally enhanced growing strategy.
One of EarthDance's three chicken tractors. The chickens are raised by Jeri Villareal of Our City Farm; moving the tractors allows the chickens access to fresh grass for foraging and spreads their dung around the farm, thus fertilizing the land.
Some of Jeri Villareal's laying hens.
A shade house provides protection for vulnerable seedlings.
The entrance to EarthDance's herb garden. The farm sells its organic herbs at the Tower Grove and Ferguson farmers' markets.
The season's first cabbages.
Purple Express kohlrabi is similar in texture and flavor to a broccoli stem or cabbage heart but milder and sweeter. The entire plant can be eaten raw or cooked.
Volunteers and apprentices till cucumbers.
Stephanie Jansing, the farm's assistant manager, gets her hands dirty.
Row grasses and hairy vetch add nutrients and nitrogen to the soil.
One of spring's simple pleasures: new potatoes.
Gibbons Honey keeps a bee colony in a woody area on the farm.
The old Mueller farmhouse. The wood and materials from various abandoned structures around the property will be salvaged and repurposed with the assistance of Refab STL.
Editor's note: Sometimes food renders Gut Check speechless. That's why God invented the DSLR. In our continuing effort to cause your mouth to water onto your keyboard, we bring you our weekly Food Photo Essay.
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