A friend of mine, Marvin Baker, has a garden in Carpio. In North Dakota having a garden would certainly not make him unique, except that Marvin runs North Star Farms where he raises and sells naturally grown prairie produce.
Marvin and I met some years ago as he used to be the weekend editor of the Minot Daily News. I was a weekend news producer at KMOT-TV. We would cover some of the same stories and give each other a “hello, how are you doing” nod. Our paths did not run parallel for very long. I would alter my course to doing television production, Marvin would eventually become the editor of the Kenmare News.
But it was when Marvin picked up the phone one day and called the Northern Sentry, and I answered. Long story short, Marvin wanted to run an ad for North Star Farms in the Northern Sentry. He wanted to let people know about Community Supported Agriculture. More plainly explained; Marvin would raise a lot of vegetables in his garden in Carpio and market them to people, like me, in the Minot area, including Minot Air Force Base. On his website, northstarorganic.com, it says that he has been raising produce, not only for delivery to folks who sign up for his Community Supported Agriculture program, but Marvin is one of several vendors at North Prairie Farmers Market.
You can find them every Saturday late June through early October (dates will vary according to weather of course) on the corner of Broadway and 2nd Street SW, near the Big M building, in downtown Minot. You may also recognize Marvin’s name as one of our columnists in the Northern Sentry. He writes Upside Down Under. If you haven’t read one of his columns, check him out in this edition of the Northern Sentry.
I didn’t grow up on a farm, but in North Dakota you will, or a majority of North Dakotans will, work on a farm, or in a business that is directly attached to agriculture. So, here’s the rest of the story. I have had the pleasure of writing a couple of stories on Marin and North Star Farms. My very first story was scheduled a couple of years ago at his garden plot. It was a nice, warm, spring day. Marvin and I had a quick trip down memory lane, you know those catch-up moments. Marvin had just recently retired as editor of the Kenmare News. I had just accepted my position at the Northern Sentry. If you haven’t met Marvin, I can tell you that his smile and personality are truly North Dakotan. On the bucket of his tractor were trays, of something. Are those onions, I would ask. Marvin answered, yep, about 10,000 of them. And you are going to plant them by hand? Of course, right over there, as he pointed to a plot of land that had just recently been tilled. I was amazed, well probably more dumfounded than amazed, but you can choose the word for hand planting 10,000 onions.
We have been customers of Marvin’s for the past 2 years. If you remember, 2021 was a dry year, and we were in the midst of COVID. Still, every week Marvin would deliver produce to us, and yes, there were onions. Last year with better growing conditions and more rain, the onions were larger, and we had more varieties. In general, last year we had great, garden fresh produce every week.
So, the story kind of ends like this. Marvin and I have re-kindled our friendship and we have signed up for year 3 of his Community Supported Agriculture program. We have coffee once in a while during the winter months, as he is way too busy during the summer to drive to Minot for coffee and conversation. One day in a casual conversation we got around to talking potatoes and onions for the upcoming season. Marvin chuckled as he said that he had ordered his onions for the season, all 24,000 of them. What? 24,000? Marvin is a great journalist, and gardener, and public relations professional. But in his words, “My wife is the one who is good with numbers. I didn’t quite get my figures right when I ordered the onions.” We both laughed, and I walked away from the conversation wondering, just what are you going to do with 24,000, give or take a few thousand here and there, onions?
Best Kept Secrets
It might seem a bit commercial to say that North Star Farms is a best kept secret, but it really is. Take time to look at their website northstarorganic.com and watch for the Northern Sentry for the announcement of the opening of North Prairie Farmers Market.
The problem with building a relationship is that too many people use a hammer in the construction.