We (Jeff Hall and Cindy Hale) envisioned the process of becoming farmers in 1998 with the goal to produce healthy, sustainable food for our family and friends. We built a year-round solar greenhouse to grow vegetables, flowers and herbs, started a large vegetable garden, a currant and fruit tree nursery bed, restored our heritage apple orchard and planted a new one. Eventually we tried our hand at poultry…6 birds. We soon realized that it was time to expand!
In 2005, we adopted our beloved daughter May. We wanted to provide her with a lifestyle linked to land and community and saw starting “the farm” as a big piece of that.
In 2007, “the farm” was formally started as a small business. Our original flock of 50 chickens grew to over 500 for both meat and eggs. Since then we have tried our hand at raising turkeys, ducks and hogs which we sold directly to customers. Our fruit and herb production increased in both the amount and varieties we grow for both the wholesale and retail markets in our area. In 2013 we added two Shetland Sheep, named Lulu and Grass, to our farm operation and then the “ah ah! bulbs really started to light up in our brains! As we grew and tried new things, we were always guided by the vision of make our farm more & more sustainable and ecological. We started eliminating things that we had to purchase or import a lot of resources for, such as poultry and hogs, but added things we could breed, cultivate and feed ourselves such as sheep, meat rabbits and more fruits, fruits, fruits! As our fruit and herb production increased, we began looking for a unique set of shelf stable, value-added products we could make using them so folks could enjoy our wonderful food year-round. A few years and hundreds of trial runs later…Voila! Vinegars, shrubs, herb infused salts, mustards, jelly-jam and more, check it out!
By 2014, we were circling in on a highly integrated farming model that worked for us. We breed our own sheep & rabbits, who graze our pastures (yes, pastured rabbits!) so are using much less gas for mowing because our lovely animals do it for us. In exchange for the most lovely life we can provide them from birth to death, they provide us with weed and pest management in our fruit orchards, high quality meat and wool. We sell a lovely variety of fruit & herb products at local markets, online and at select shops around the region and also teach classes for those who want to learn from us.
On our farm just north of Duluth, Minnesota, we own 40 acres. Our production methods are sustainable and organic, always. Through integrated, intensive and restorative management of 15 acres of pasture and 3 acres of gardens, orchards and the greenhouse we leave the rest of our wooded property, braided by a lovely stream and broken by small waterfalls, for the other inhabitants of this earth to live in safely…frogs, birds & bugs, mammals and small to large native plants.
Meet the farmers
Trained in outdoor education with special emphasis on working with at-risk youth, Jeff has worked with the Duluth Public Schools as a special education specialist since 1998. He excels at knowing how to reach out to kids and adults alike in order to find solutions. While at Grant Elementary School, he was voted the most valuable employee or ‘the last one who should be let go if budgets get tight’.
Jeff is an avid naturalist and is dedicated to ensuring that their farm harbors habitat galore for all manner of native wildlife. The return on Bobolinks and Dickcissels to their pastures had been a high point, once common species in the area, documented breeding had become rare…now they are back; hopefully to stay.
Farming was something he was interested in doing during his summers off and has turned into an avocation. Dubbed the “Pig Wisperer” by his wife Cindy, he has the ability to put himself in their hooves. By having exceptional understanding of the many animals raised on the farm he keeps everyone on track to make sure the animals have the best life they can while in our care.
As a staff member at the University of Minnesota Duluth for 20 years, Cindy led numerous research efforts in Hardwood Forest Ecology and public education. She created the Great Lakes Worm Watch citizen science program in 2001 while still a graduate student. She served as director of Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center to get the program stabilized and then passed the baton to John Geissler (one of her graduate students) who has continued to offer fabulous public and K-12 education programs at a truly one of a kind site. As co-author of the National Science Foundation grant that created the Graduate Students in Math & Science Graduate Fellows in K-12 Education program at UMD, she helped lead this 5 year program to educate and train graduate students to become better teachers and communicators of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with K-12 teachers, students, and the public.
In 2009, as her final “big” project before departing UMD, she helped start the Sustainable Agriculture Program.
Cindy is now dedicated to full-time farming but stays connected with the community partners and public outreach she began at UMD. She continues to provide community education to train teachers, public organizations and community member on topics related to tree fruit production and integrated pest management (see Workshops & Consulting).
The inspiration…May was a born farmer. She loves dirt, plants, animals, learning how machines work and eating! She’s 100% “in” on the whole farming thing. May has always been interested in cooking but with the advent of our new vinegars, she has taken great interest in helping to develop and test recipes. She has a great palate! Check out some of her favorites.
She found us online and asked to help, we hired here for intermittent work in 2014 and when the opportunity came for us to hire her full-time in May 2015 we did! Eldri has become an indispensable part of our farm and vinegar operation. Farming is in her blood and her experiences in food service and baking make her a perfect fit for growing food and producing value added products. She lives with her partner Adam and their daughter Lena on a small farm south of Superior Wisconsin. Look for her at the farmer’s market and in-store demos.