Thursday, October 01, 2015

Season's End

The 2015 harvest season has now officially concluded. 
In all, we officially harvested and delivered 171 pounds to restaurants and individuals and 552 pounds to grocery stores for a total of 723 pounds of herbs, that's 8,832 individual one ounce packages and 173 bags for a total of 9,005 packages of herbs this year! In all, we harvested 800 pounds of herbs this year (that includes the amounts we over-picked or picked and did not sell). 

Doing what we do is not easy, but it is rewarding.  I can't think of any job that smells as good as what we do.  It's a LOT of work but we do it with LOVE and have some fun along the way.  It takes time and diligence to follow the health and safety rules that keep our customers and product safe but it is SO worth it. 

Now it is time to do the things that come when harvest concludes, cleaning out the fields, adding compost, preparing for next year by making notes on what went right and wrong this season, planning for facilities upgrades like new plastic on the high tunnel or screens for the high tunnel to assist with grasshopper control.  It's time to put things to bed...and maybe, if I get time...clean the house really well for the first time since spring. 

Since what we do is work with herbs, and most people only purchase or use one two packages at a time, it doesn't seem like it would take a lot to accomplish, but when you put out over 9,000 of those little buggers over a 14 week season, it is work.  Granted, we're not hauling around tomatoes or squash or other heavy veggies, but it's still back breakingly long days.  We'd like to share with you what it takes to get our product from field to customer on harvest days so we've put together this little video.  We hope you enjoy it. 

And thanks again for all of your support, good wishes, words of encouragement, and feedback throughout the year.

Barry, Holly, and Adam

Friday, August 28, 2015

After the Dinner

Overall, our first Farm to Table Dinner in our new location turned out quite well.  A good time was had by all.

We had the perfect weather for the evening with a slight breeze to keep the mosquito's away and it was warm but not too hot.  Our backdrop, as provided by our neighbors the Jaegers, was a beautifully harvested wheat field with the golden straw and bales showing off their fall color in the setting sunlight.

Aaron Hill, from Fargo Brewing  Company, was an excellent co-host for the evening and did a fabulous job of teaching us all about the great microbrews from their business.

We were able to perfectly pair these wonderful microbrews with some GREAT food sourced from North Dakota producers and businesses and that made it all the more special.

The first course of the dinner, the appetizer, was pizza.  Guests had three pizza's to try out.  The first was a lemon basil marinated chicken pizza on a BBQ sauce sourced from Oakes, ND - Dad's Ropin' Good BBQ sauce.  We had to search long and hard and do more than a little begging to get our hands on this no longer made sauce, but MMMM, MMM, MMM, was it worth it!  The second pizza was a pesto sauce, made with the pesto recipe on our website, topped with garden ripened tomatoes from Jerry's Gardens - Jerry Harmel of Rugby - and mozzarella cheese.  And last, but certainly not least, was the lamb pizza.  Several people were unsure of eating lamb and it was interesting to see after the first round of serving how much lamb pizza was leftover, but it wasn't long before people started coming back for seconds and thirds of the lamb pizza and before we knew it not only was it gone but people were demanding the recipe.  Which, by the way, is now posted on our website on the main dishes recipes page. 

It worked out well that opposite the view of the fantastic straw bale field was a view of Adam's sheep and with so many people asking questions about the lamb, we had Adam take a few minutes away from cooking to explain about his fabulous 'hair' sheep, the Katahdin's. One of them is visible in the photo below in the lower right hand corner of the picture, along with two of our 'free range' hens.

The next course was a little surprise as well.  Along with a great herbed salad with pistachios and pepitas, we served apple bobs dressed with a yummy lime cilantro sauce.  This was another item people came back for seconds and thirds on. 

The main course, the beef kabobs made with grass fed beef marinated in an herbed marinade turned out perfectly grilled by Adam and Chef Ken and the colors of the peppers from local producers made it just as lovely to look at as to eat.

The kabobs were served with two sides that also brought a lot of interest to the dinner and were items that few guests had experienced before this evening.  We planted some rat tail radishes this year and found them to be the perfect snack with beer when quick pickled and along with those, our 'Pea Currant' cherry tomatoes made the best red/green combination!

The final course of the evening, as described to me by one of the guests, was 'life changing'!  Stephanie's gingerbread cake, made of course with the darkest molasses, local honey, local eggs, dark brown sugar and Fargo Brewing Company Sodbuster Porter beer, then served with that same beer and topped with Pride Dairy vanilla ice cream - was literally the grand finale'!

Photo above courtesy of Christie Jaeger
A good time was had by everyone and we certainly enjoyed having them all with us!
Even as the sun was setting on this perfect evening, people enjoyed the food, farm, fun, and new friendships made with everyone at our Farm to Table Dinner.
It's been one week since your 2015 Farm to Table Dinner and Social and I think we're finally all cleaned up.  This past week has been a true roller coaster ride!  We were in the middle of clean up when we received a call from our Grand Forks Hugo's stores wanting an additional delivery of herbs as they had placed them on sale and they needed more!  It made for a very hectic Saturday and put some of the clean up chores on hold.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday it was back to the hectic pace of harvesting, packaging, and deliveries. Then yesterday, we were in Grand Forks to showcase our herbs by doing a demo at the Hugo's store on 32nd and doing some radio spots to highlight our products.
Back at home today we just finished cleaning, washing, and putting away all the utensils and other items from the dinner and updating the website with all the recipe's we used. 
We're very thankful to everyone that attended the dinner.  We hope you had as much fun as we did!  And...we hope to see you again next year!
Remember to look on our website: on the recipes pages for all of the instructions on how to recreate this great food in your own kitchens and
Live Life Well Seasoned!
  Barry, Holly and Adam

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Much Rains Makes for Muddy Harvest

We've had some awesome storms here in the last few days.  Hot, humid weather seems to make the clouds boil then burst forth with waves of rain followed by high winds to push it along.

All total, we've had over three inches in the last three days.

This photo is the one I took, just before I did this...

Just goes to show that chubby old ladies like myself that move at less than 2 miles per hour should not try to out-run storms moving at 35 miles per hour.  We're hoping it's just a bad sprain but if it is not better by Monday they will do an MRI to see if I did more damage than the awesome storm photos were worth.  Look out world, I might be selling 'awesome storm photos' in color, glossy, 8X10's  with descriptions on the back to make money for the doctor bills.  (Some of you may notice a slight reference to Alice's Restaurant in that last sentence!)
Yesterday when we came home from the doctor (for the aforementioned issue) the rain was coming down so hard the fields were literally running like little streams.  My heart was in my throat as I looked at the herbs in the field laying so flat and wet, hoping that some sun today would show me a better picture.
And, for the most part, it has.  The Spearmint took kind of a hit with some of the new tender leaves sustaining tears or rips, but most of the rest of the herbs survived their immersion just fine.  Luckily we have a high tunnel and the very tender basil, lemon basil and precious rosemary were inside - they look GREAT!
It has made for a muddy mess today and with it being harvest day, there is no time to just sit around and wait for things to dry out.  You still have to call customers, take orders, and then begin harvesting.  It means washing the herbs more times than normal to ensure they are clean and being careful to only pick those you know didn't take too much abuse in the wind.
It also means very special footwear, or lack thereof,  for our harvest workers:

As for me, I'm sidelined today.  Just sitting here icing my knee and wondering if there was any way I could play in the mud too!
Until next time - Live Life Well Seasoned!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Another Year of Harvest

Last week began our first harvests for 2015. 

Unlike conventional large farmers, our harvests are weekly and start in June and end hopefully in October.  It's a stressful time.  It's tough to wait to hear from your customers that the product they received is what they expected.  You work really really hard to plant, water, weed, then water and weed some more, and then harvest, package and deliver a high quality product.

This year, some of our product is being delivered to a grocery warehouse where it is then shipped to stores in Minnesota and North Dakota that we just can't get it to ourselves.  That was REALLY nerve put your product in the hands of someone else and hope that all went well.

When we called for orders this week, we found that indeed our herbs had landed in the grocery stores safe and sound and everyone was happy.  Our Minot customers especially, who have been with us for many years, were happy to have us back.

We were glad to have our summer help, Amber, back again.  It meant that we finished harvest and packaging yesterday in record time and even had time to go out last night and pick some of the Carmine Jewel cherries that were ripe.  Having time to do anything else on harvest day is almost unheard of here, making it an especially nice treat.

The one worry we've had lately, how dry it was, is not an issue anymore with two inches of rain soaked into the soil in the last three or four days I'm confident that we're ready for the heat wave coming our way in the next week.

We've got some busy times ahead with groups visiting and touring the farm and taking classes here and the Farm to Table Dinner and Social to prepare for, we'll have our hands full.  We love hosting people and teaching them about herbs and we still have a few open days, so if you have a group that would be interested in visiting or having a class, please contact us.

For now, remember to Live Life Well Seasoned!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

So What IS a Farm to Table Dinner?

The gardendwellers FARM Farm to Table Dinner and Social is sold out for this year.  We are taking a waiting list as a few folks have not yet paid for their tickets and just in case someone has a crisis come up and can’t make it – so if you know of someone who is wanting to be on the waiting list, please have them contact us. 

The tickets went fast, we knew they would.  Who doesn’t love a good picnic with beer?  But while we’re sure some signed on for the great North Dakota brewed beer, there’s more to a farm to table dinner than just the beverages. 


Farm to Table dinners are a way to connect the people that grew the food with those that are eating it.  It’s a way to showcase what a region or area has to offer, good things that fill our bellies and make us joyous for the bounty that comes from a place so beautiful.  It’s a time to meet new people, taste new tastes, and learn about new things. 

gardendwellers FARM has done dinners on the farm in the past.  We’ve featured our herbs used artfully in well prepared dishes and paired with beer or local wines.  These were fun events but they weren’t true Farm to Table Dinners like the 2015 event. 


Pictured in the photo: Stephanie Blumhagen of Meadowlark Granary gives us an inside look as she and her Dad plant the wheat that gets ground into flour that gets made into our dessert for the Dinner!  Doesn’t she look just like her Dad?

This year, it’s a true Farm to Table dinner, with as many of the ingredients as humanly possible sourced from farms, producers, and businesses that we know personally and that grow and create right here in North Dakota.  Of course we’ll use as many of our own fresh herbs as possible, but it’s also flour, bread, vegetables, meat and dairy products that are nothing but North Dakota goodness.  Before each course we’ll be telling you about each dish, where the food came from, and how it was made. 

In the coming weeks, we'll be telling the story of the ingredients in this year's dinner and along with that - the story behind the farms and small businesses that produce them.  Like the Meadowlark Granary, County Line Meats, The Double Batch, Slavic Heritage Farm, Pride Dairy, Fargo Brewing Company, and more.  Stayed tuned is we introduce you to our friends in food and keep you up to date with what is going on at the FARM.  Until then, Live Life Well Seasoned!


Monday, June 01, 2015

It's a Fast Paced World For the Farm Dog

It’s the last week in May and first week in June.  All of the crops have been seeded, the fruits are far from ripe and the weeds have not yet become an issue so it’s one of the few times that we have within our season to take a moment and do something for fun.

This past weekend was Devils Run Car show in Devils Lake so we took a little time to enjoy all the classic cars.  We also took a day to enter Millie the barn dog into an Agility trial in Minot.  With not much other than baby seedlings to photograph or write about this week, the Agility Trial gets the spotlight.

It’s tough being a barn dog in a competitive dog world.  Millie, A.K.A Don’t Coddle the Barn Dog, has successfully taken and passed basic obedience, advanced obedience, foundation agility, introduction to agility courses and her Canine Good Citizen test.  She’s at home in the local bar, in social situations, on the ranch and has been asked to be tested as a therapy dog.  However, when faced with over 50 other ‘citified’ dogs, house dogs with owners who pamper them and who live in houses and get baths and regular treats and have ready access to training facilities; it’s a hard row to hoe.

Agility is also a confusing, involved, and intense sport – not one to be taken lightly and certainly not one for every dog or owner.  If it were not for the caring spirit and encouragement of the Action Agility volunteers and club members, the day would not have been nearly as enjoyable.  Thanks go out to all of them for putting on a great trial and making it fun!
The bottom line good news is Millie was able to take home a third place finish in her Touch N Go class, a fourth place finish in Jumpers class and a fifth place finish in Tunnelers.  She finished every single run with not a single fault - meaning she didn’t make any mistakes that could have cost her points and she correctly completed each obstacle.  She made friends with a horse at the show grounds, was able to beat out an extremely pampered pooch who’s owner thinks the world revolves around her high priced pup (and Millie was free), she got to spend the whole day with Adam, AND she was the only dog there who was able and WILLING to kill the garter snake that was lurking at the show door waiting to terrorize every participant and small child entering or exiting the show building; saving many lives – if not skipped heart beats – in the process I’m sure.  She also earned a new admirer who had a soft spot in her heart for ‘farm collies’, those working dogs who really do WORK for a living and are an integral part of any farm or ranch.  These things all made it a worthwhile day.

Above: Adam and Millie take a break from the ring - Millie enjoys a belly rub while wondering why she can't just go play with the horses in the pasture next to them.
The bad news is she did not do a good enough job to earn any points towards an Agility title.  She (and Adam), was just too slow to make the necessary course run in the allotted time.  Now while this might make her sound slow, keep in mind that there were over 50 dogs in each class she entered and no more than 14 made the run in the allotted time without faults to qualify for points.  So; she was not alone.

Above: A courtesy at the show was to offer a raffle drawing to those that did not receive a qualifying score - as you can see, there were more than a few entries in the jar.
A whole day without being able to chase the pigeons off the grain bins, the swallows out of the barn, and the gophers out of the field or check the chickens and sheep is tough for a dog like Millie.  Putting on some speed to race to my call and protect me from harm and alarm when I almost step on a snake or spot a mouse in the barn is her true joy and forte’.  Racing to jump over a bar or sprint through a tunnel – not as much. 
Above: Adam and Millie wait ringside for their next turn to try a few tunnels and jumps.
This summer Millie will continue to practice her Agility training but she’ll also concentrate on Rally and Regular Obedience where speed is not such a big factor but accuracy is.  By August we’ll hopefully be ready for the ring again and Millie will enjoy another day of trials where she can hopefully make more new friends and maybe even save the day…if there’s a mouse or snake around.

Post script note:  Not all dogs entered in the agility trial, in fact not many, were 'pampered pooches'.  Many are great athletes, that like human athletes, train hard for their sport.  They were a joy to watch and it was a pleasure to get to know them and their owners.  A dog with a job - or a sport - is a thing of beauty.

For more information on Agility dogs, training, and events, check out


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Another Season for gardendwellers FARM

2015 brings another season for gardendwellers FARM.  This year we're pretty excited as we have taken on a few more grocery stores and we're back in the business of inviting guests and visitors to the farm.

Although this spring has been crazy, one minute 70 and sunny and perfect planting weather; we've also had our share of cold.  Last weeks rains brought us over 3 inches of total precipitation with 3.5 inches of snow.

Today the weather is better and back to sunny and warm.  We're banking on tonight being the last of the damaging frost and we'll be hauling butt planting after Wednesday.

The high tunnel is already planted with Basil and Rosemary and has escaped damage during the cold weather.  That puts us on track for first deliveries to our customers the end of June.  The parsley, fennel, and thyme seeds in the field are just coming up and they too survived the snow and cold.  Soon they will be joined by their friends marjoram, oregano, winter savory and sage.  We also have over 200 mint plants just begging to be planted.

We're super hyped about a few other things this year as well.  One of which is our Farm to Table Dinner and Social that we will hold in August.  We're proud to announce that Fargo Brewing Company will be joining us for the evening where owner Aaron Hill will talk about the brewing process, their business, and how it pairs with the food we'll be serving.  Watch our website and facebook page for more details as they become available.

The dinner will be about more than just food and beer.  The food will be sourced from small farmers in North Dakota, those that actually touch each and every piece with love and caring.  We will also have some of the farmers and businesses on hand that evening so guests can visit with them about how they grow and produce their products. 

We're hoping for a nice evening so we can pull out a few of the lawn games and let people socialize and enjoy the farm while they are here.  We need to take time to enjoy our meals, and this will be a great way to do just that!

We've also been working quite hard on the new website design.  If you're reading this on the new site, please feel free to leave us some feedback about the new site.  It's never too late to change things and constructive criticism is always welcome.

The orchard was blooming heavy but with the freezing temps I am afraid we'll have lost some of our potential for a big fruit harvest.  Some things like the black currants will be just fine, however I am worried about the Carmine Jewel cherries and the apples as they were in full bloom before the snow.

For now though, all I know is I can't wait to get the seedlings and transplants out of my living room!  As you can see, they've gotten quite leggy waiting for Nature to get her act together.

Happy Planting everyone!  Hope to see you at the FARM this summer.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Special Video Blog for you!

So this time I decided to try something new - a video blog!  I buy all kinds of kitchen gadgets and up until now I have not found one that was worth the money but this one has me so excited I went out and bought three more!  If you cooking, herbs, kitchen gadgets or just don't have anything else to do for about 5 minutes, please watch!

And as always, Live Life Well Seasoned!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Why Buy gardendwellers FARM Herbs?

So here it is, the post about how gardendwellers FARM herbs are better than others.

I could spend a lot of space and words to tell you the benefits of buying local.  To explain why buying local supports small farms and farming communities, keeps farmland farming and productive and how it boosts local economies, but when it comes down to it - it's your money and you want a good product for your money.  I've never heard anyone sit down to a good meal and say, "My, this tastes like it boosted our economy by $100!"  Nope, never heard that!

What you want to know is "Am I getting my money's worth"?  So, let's take a look.
To conduct random quality tests, I regularly buy back a package or two of our herbs when we make deliveries to our customers.  By that time, our herbs have been on their shelves for a week.  I also regularly purchase herbs from our competitors.  Since the package I bought yesterday was dill, today we'll just take a look at dill but in future posts hope to also cover basil and mint, our two other biggest sellers.

This is the package of gardendwellers FARM dill I purchased yesterday in Minot:


These are photos of our competitors product.

Because we hand pick every piece we can ensure that our customers are not paying for a lot of stem that is not useable in their dishes.  Nothing against this particular competitor, but I was pretty flabbergasted when I opened up this package.  Let me assure you - like any consumer, I take a pretty good look at what I am buying and I TRY to buy the best of what is on the grocers shelf, even for this comparison testing.

You'll see that in our package not only was there a lot more useable product, but also the quality is better.  That's why we want you to buy gardendwellers FARM fresh herbs - because the quality is better.  And you deserve the best.

If you have recently purchased our herbs, especially mint or basil or thyme - please send us photos.  We'd love to compare your results with our product to our competitors photos.