MANKATO — It was a late start, but supporters of the Blue Earth County Community Farm have been planting vegetable seeds and transplants.
The farm's former manager, Joe Domeier, took a full time job with Minnesota Valley Action Council this spring, which delayed planting at the site just southwest of Mankato.
On Friday, new farm manager Andrew Hermanson and volunteers were putting in transplants and seeds donated by Drummers Garden Center and Floral.
"It's a little late, but I think we'll be fine," said Hermanson, who has a wealth of experience in vegetable farming.
He grew up west of St. Peter on a family vegetable farm. After graduating from the University of Minnesota in horticulture and spending a few years working at a vegetable farm and at Whole Foods in Minneapolis, he and his wife returned to take over the family vegetable farm.
Hermanson is hopeful the three-quarter-acre community farm will produce more this year, thanks to the installation late last year of a well and drip-irrigation system.
"The drip-irrigation supply will help a lot in giving that consistent water."
The focus of the farm is to produce locally grown vegetables for food assistance programs such as the ECHO Food Shelf and the Salvation Army. The farm has produced 7,500 pounds of fresh vegetables in each of the last two years.
Volunteers who want to help at the farm can come by any Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The farm, at the intersection of Highway 66 and Indian Lake Road near Mount Kato, began in 2011 as a collaboration between Three Rivers Resource Conservation & Development Council, Feeding Our Communities Partners and Blue Earth County.
Three Rivers dissolved last year and this growing season the farm is supported by a grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation and sponsorship from several other community organizations and volunteers.
The community farm received a local government innovation award last year from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.