Note: This article was published in the Farmers Independent last week. My second byline! Front page… below the fold. 😀
Second Glance Farms hosted an open house on Saturday, July 22nd. Visitors walked the many gardens, enjoyed the greenhouse that is the heart of the operation, and then gathered for a talk given by Nancy Kuhta. The presentation space, full of beautiful art, depicted Second Glance’s theme of Diversity: art, science, geometry, color, math, and even spirituality. Everything is connected in this space where each task is done with contemplation and mindfulness to listen to the earth, the seeds, the sun.
Inspiration: An interactive contemplation area celebrating the intersection of Intention and Imagination.
Donnette Rizzo, a librarian from Chicago, spent the last few days at the farm and shared her experience of helping to create an interactive space from willow stems depicting the integration of Intention and Imagination as Inspiration. This Venn diagram honors both the individual ideas and the confluence of the two, just as Second Glance Farms honors diversity as its key to success. Nancy once gave diversity presentations to Walmart employees but now she and her daughter Jannel are working on a diversity of tasks.
Jannel and Nancy Kuhta display an ear of Blue Eagle Corn and a jar of Rainbow Corn.
You may know the Kuhta’s from past adventures with Nature’s Gardens, which produced bedding plants. Or perhaps you’ve seen some of their landscaping work. If you have the new telephone book, the cover shows a flower garden they installed at Bemidji State University. Or maybe you ran into them at Carlson Greenhouse. More recently, they have begun to grow their farm, inviting others to share the beauty of their abundant flowers and vegetables. After first linking to the farm-to-school program with Bagley Public Schools and working with Fireside and U of M at Itasca Park, they are now reaching out to the community at-large.
Nancy has been gardening for forty years, starting with digging in her mother’s garden in Chicago as a child. Her focus is on protecting heirloom varieties that are nearly extinct. Her goal is to lead by example and encourage others to replicate her efforts. Nancy reflects, “We visited a seed bank and realized the importance of the North with the 12-hour day and we said, ‘We’ll help’.” With 1000 tomato plants in 25 varieties, they are going to offer U-pick so that people can experience a variety of heirloom vegetables at reasonable prices. I tasted several of the lettuces and each was delicious in its own way; the crunchy, the buttery, and my favorite, the peppery arugula.
Jannel and Nancy Kuhta are passionate about seed-saving for endangered varieties like their Blue Eagle Corn.
Lincoln Lettuce, like that harvested at the Lincoln plantation, is available. Or you can secure some Beauty Way Bean seeds to help bring these beautiful beans back to abundance. But Nancy’s true passion is Corn. She will share with you in detail about Blue Eagle Corn, often called Peace Corn. It disappeared about the time of the Trail of Tears and in 2010, a group of Pawnee gave a Kansas farmer the last 25 seeds in known existence to plant, as his land was their old homeland. For the first time in memorable history, that year the Pawnee ate the corn of their heritage. It is said that when Blue Eagle Corn returns, it will bring peace.
The garden and nature speak to all ages and are wonderful places for the generations to connect. Kathy Mitchell of Minneapolis expressed her appreciation of how nature has brought her and her father together. A dedicated Catholic who once saw salvation only through the church, he’s begun to spend more time with trees and has found a connection that brings him closer not only to God, but also to his daughter. Jannel shared about her experience with a child who explained to her that “the plants like you to sing to them”. This youngster took Jannel to the Back Forty field so she could sing a song to the watermelons. Later she let Jannel know she’d introduced the watermelons to the pumpkins.
There is beauty throughout the garden. Flowers and hand-painted signs designate long rows of tomatoes.
When asked about the name Second Glance, Nancy notes that the beauty of the farm will cause you to give it a Second Glance. They are offering local produce, grown naturally, with a variety of tomatoes, squash, herbs and corn. You can contact Nancy and Jannel at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a visit.
If you pay a visit to the farm at 19008 Highway 200, you’ll also get a chance to meet Corn Dog, about the most serene animal I’ve ever met. Found nearly dead among the corn in an Oklahoma garden and nursed back to life by Jannel, Corn Dog would not leave the garden area for months after being discovered. He would greet Jannel every day at the garden gate. If you see him here at Second Glance, take a moment to say hello and give him a scratch. He will calmly look you in the eyes, and if you’re smart, you’ll follow his lead and spend some time in the garden.