Farmington, MN 55024
Martin Diffley began farming in southern Minnesota in 1973. At that time, the land, owned by Martins aunts, had already been in the family for over a century. In 1990, they were forced to sell the land by eminent domain for a public school. Eagan, Minnesota, not far from Minneapolis/St. Paul, was a rapidly developing area. The Diffleys then purchased a new farm, farming on rented land for several years while the new farm underwent organic certification.
The Diffleys are seasoned organic farmers, innovators, and local food advocates and educators. They are one of the longest certified organic operations in the United States, having been first certified in 1975. Martin was closely involved in establishing Minnesotas organic standards and even served as an organic inspector for several years. The Diffleys were also part of making the filmTurn Here Sweet Corn. According to film publishers Bullfrog Films, After 150 years of admirable land stewardship, the Diffleys are forced to sell their farm, The Gardens of Eagan, to developers. The program interweaves the particulars of their story with more general contemplation of such topics as the relationship between producers and consumers of food, the eviction of a vibrant rural culture into the realm of memory, and the future of our food supply.
Gardens of Eagan is famous for their coveted signature crop: sweet corn. But they are also in demand for their tomatoes; green, red and hot peppers; green, red, and savoy cabbage; green and purple broccoli; white and purple cauliflower; green, red and lacinato kale; cucumbers; mixed watermelons; and winter squash. Martin and Atinas son, Maize (18), works on the farm with equipment, planting and wholesale packing. Eliza (23) has her own three kids who already are planning to be farmersmostly so they can drive the big tractors. Both Maize and Eliza work at the retail stand, too, and Martin and Atina handle overall planning and implementing of farm tasks and marketing.
Martin and Atina were honored by Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) as 2004 Organic Farmers of the Year. Click here to read more.
Why is growing organic a priority for your family?
We are health is wealth eaters and feeders. We love to feed and nourish people. Food as medicine. The relationships people have with their food and the producer are important. It is extremely important to leave our soil in better condition than when we found it.
Our mission statement is to grow the highest quality, certified organic produce for the local Twin Cities market in a manner which leaves our soil in better condition and health than when we began farming and to market our product in a manner financially equitable for both grower and consumer while maintaining a healthy personal life for ourselves and our families.
What is your favorite part of being an organic farmer?
The miracle of life. Watching a seed germinate and become nourishing food. Feeding people both physically and providing the spiritual aspects of healthy food. The passion for absolutely fabulous food. The human relationships.
What is your least favorite part?
High humidity and mosquito-sphere.
Why should people buy organic products instead of other options?
Their personal health. The health of the planet. Higher nutritional quality, better taste.
What makes your farm special?
Our commitment and attention to producing and shipping the highest quality possible. Our commitment to building healthy soil, which in turn grows healthy food.
Where would you like your business to be next year? In the next 5 years? 10?
I want to be able to do more work in education and outreach for the organic movement and have trained and skilled people on the farm responsible for more of the growing aspect.
Where can consumers get your products?
We have a full service roadside stand at 4355 S. Robert Trail in Eagan. Its open daily between 10:00am-6:30pm from late July through October 31. Our products are also sold at the following Twin Cities locations (what a great co-op community!).
- Lakewinds Natural Foods Co-op, Minnetonka and Anoka
- Seward Community Co-op, Minneapolis
- Mississippi Market Co-op, St. Paul (2 locations)
- Valley Natural Foods, Burnsville
- Wedge Co-op, Minneapolis
- Whole Foods Market, Minneapolis and St. Paul
For more information on Gardens of Eagan, visit their website, www.frontiernet.net, send the Diffleys an email, or call (952) 469-1855.