The intention behind the Blue Earth County (BEC) Community Farm is to help decrease hunger in our area by providing fresh produce to hunger assistance programs such as ECHO Food Shelf and the Salvation Army. The farm presents an opportunity for the entire community to get involved in ending hunger. Volunteers will plant, maintain, harvest, and distribute fresh produce to local hunger assistance programs.
The BEC Community Farm received a Local Government Innovation Award from Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota in partnership with InCommons. The Local Government Innovation Awards recognize the creative ways counties, cities, and schools are making Minnesota better and doing things differently. The BEC Community Farm is a unique collaboration between local government and nonprofits to grow fresh produce for local hunger assistance programs.
The BEC Community Farm utilizes 0.70 acres of land in Weagel Park just off the Red Jacket Trail near Mount Kato Ski Area. The fertile soil yielded more than 16,803 lbs. of fresh produce in the first three growing seasons (2012, 2013 and 2014). Since 2015, Ryan Idso-Weisz has managed the farm and the volunteer program. Community members, college students, and youth groups are encouraged to share their time and talents to plant, maintain, and harvest a wide variety of herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Novice gardeners are welcome. The majority of the produce is given to local hunger assistance programs such as ECHO Food Shelf and the Salvation Army. Surplus produce is donated to Second Harvest Heartland for distribution to other Minnesota communities. Farmamerica serves as a fiscal host partner in supporting the mission of the farm. In addition, the University of Minnesota Extension Service provides healthy recipes to clients of ECHO Food Shelf to better use the many fresh produce options.