A Family That Farms Together....
The birds are back, and that’s a good thing. When Amy and Proeun Doeun first started farming on their current land in 2012, birds were rare. Why? No bugs to feed them. The land had been used for commercial farming, and the surrounding land, as well. Amy and Proeun were committed to organic farming, though, and set about restoring the nutrients in the soil. They used organic pest control techniques, such as spacing out the planting of cabbage to discourage moths from eating their produce. Some bugs are good bugs, after all. And now, the birds have returned -- a sign that the land is getting healthier.
Amy and Proeun are graduates of the Minnesota Food Association organic farming program and say that the program was a big help in preparing them to live off the land. They say that one of the greatest benefits of the program was that in addition to learning the basics, they learned how to research the answers to questions that came up later.
Proeun’s parents were farmers in Cambodia before war uprooted them. After spending five years in a refugee camp in Thailand, the family made it to America, eventually settling in Minnesota. Proeun’s parents would tell stories of how much they loved working with the land in the jungles of Cambodia, growing things, but it was Amy and Proeun’s oldest son who led them back to farming here.
Their son, now twelve, had such an enthusiasm for farms and growing things, that Amy and Proeun began to dabble in programs they heard about at the Minnesota Living Green Expo. Eventually, they got involved in the Minnesota Food Association, and before too long, the family had moved from their urban home of a 40 x 80 foot plot to a 40-acre farm. Amy and Proeun now have six kids, with a seventh on the way, and love that their kids can run and play in wide open spaces.
Amy and Proeun started farming produce, but they have been transitioning into heritage livestock, including Berkshire hogs, Galloway cows and Lincoln sheep. Their oldest son saved money to purchase cows of his own. Now that the cows are breeding, the herd is expanding. Thanks to a grant from Lakewinds Coop, they have been able to invest in fencing for their animals.
While the farm operates under organic farming guidelines, the cost of certification has been a hurdle. The farm’s CSA clients love the quality of their produce, and chefs know the value of heritage animals that tend to have more flavor than commercially raised animals. Upcoming plans include offering raw fleece from their sheep, and taking a sabbatical from growing produce in order to focus on their animal herds.
Amy has written a book, “Home School Farm” for her CSA clients, and anyone who is interested in seasonal living. Offering tips on when to order seeds, plant and harvest, she follows a year of living on the farm. The book may be downloaded from their website at crazyboyfarm.com.