Linda’s Gardens Provides Produce Year-Round in Eastern South Dakota
Linda and Jim Krsnak of Linda’s Gardens in Chester, SD are hard at work growing great produce in eastern South Dakota. Nearly three hundred different types of vegetables, herbs, fruits, berries and flowers are raised at Linda’s Gardens each year through sustainable farming practices such as crop rotation and cover crops. Many unique varieties are offered to their customers through their CSA, Farmers Markets, the online SD Local Foods Co-op, the SD Local Foods Directory, and soon Farm to School.
While South Dakota may not seem like the ideal place for a produce grower due to the short growing season, the Dakota Rural Action (DRA) members have been able to sell their goods year-round by means of hoop houses and drying and preserving their goods. Last winter, Linda’s Gardens tried something new and sold several herb mixes, soup mixes and dried produce as one of the 150 members of DRA’s SD Local Foods Co-op. This was something they had not tried in the past due to the lack of a year-round farmers market, however the success of the Co-op as a convenient year-round market online has allowed the Krsnaks to expand their offerings and continue to bring in income during the off-season.
“The SD Local Foods Co-op has afforded us the opportunity to expand our customer base in a relatively labor free way (less labor intensive vs. farmers markets) and has also provided a method to market produce and value-added products throughout the year, and especially during the off-season of farmers markets. It also provides a way for our customers who cannot attend farmers markets to purchase our products, as well as others, and pick up all the products in one place at one time” said Linda Krsnak about DRA’s online cooperative.
Recently, Linda’s Gardens began working with DRA on Farm to School activities and is creating a working relationship with the nearby Flandreau Indian School. The rural school is one of DRA’s Farm to School pilot programs and was the only South Dakota awardee of the first round of USDA Farm to School grants, in which DRA assisted with the planning grant. The Krsnaks have hosted multiple tours of the farm for the students where they learned to trim tomatoes and other skills. The students also tasted vegetables new to them, a fun sneak peek at some of the produce Linda’s Gardens will be serving in the school come Fall!
In addition to participating in DRA’s Co-op and Farm to School work, the Krsnaks have also been active members of DRA’s Farmer Network. They have hosted an “Introduction to Market Gardening” training and a summer high tunnel tour in the past. This year they will be hosting a fall growing field day on October 12 for DRA’s annual Farmer Network Field Days. The workshops and skill sessions are an extension of DRA’s Farm Beginnings training course and allow participants hands-on learning and an opportunity to network with established farmers. The Krsnaks also utilized the Network to employ a 2010 DRA Farm Beginnings graduate. Find Linda’s Gardens online, on Facebook, and in the SD Local Foods Directory.