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Carol Ford grows greens in Milan

Posted by Crystal Oko '07, Woodbury on Monday, Feb. 19, 2007

Event Date/Time: Monday, Feb. 26, 2007 11:15 am
Location: Oyate Hall

On the weekdays, one can find Carol Ford as the “office goddess” in the Science and Math Division office at the University of Minnesota, Morris, where her official title is principal administrative specialist. On nights and weekends she’s in a T-shirt in her 80-degree greenhouse tending to all her greens. Just two years ago, Ford and her husband, Chuck Waibel, made their dream come true when they built a greenhouse that now provides food during the winter months for families involved in an organization called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

CSA is a system of food distribution that provides food directly to the consumer from the producer. Families pay in advance to a get a share of the producer's weekly crop. Many families in west central Minnesota participate in CSAs, but only in the summer, which makes sense due to Minnesota’s harsh winters.

Ford, who loves to research, has combined this passion with another love, greenhouses and "green" type initiatives. After much research and reading, she became particularly inspired by a passive solar greenhouse in Cheyenne, Wyoming, that was run entirely by volunteers.

"I thought if they can do it in the harsh winters of Wyoming, why can't we do it here," reasoned Ford. Ford and her husband have always had an interest in building a winter CSA and together they attended a course through The Land Stewardship Project called "Farm Beginnings." It's been an ongoing project since then. Ford and Waibel have constructed an 18 by 24-foot greenhouse on their double lot in Milan.

They are now in their second year of providing fresh winter greens to 15 families. "It's going great, better than I hoped,” said Ford. “I have not had as many sleepless nights this winter." Ford explained that their first winter included an infestation of aphids and was "a learning curve year." The 15 families are already part of a summer CSA and are thrilled that they can continue receiving fresh, organic greens through the Ford's winter CSA.

Ford will be one of the presenters during The Home Grown Economy Conference, to be sponsored in April at UMM by Congressman Collin Peterson. Her presentation, one of three on the topic, "Community Supported Agriculture – Farm to Consumer Business Model," will be given at 11:15 a.m. in Oyate Hall. Said Ford, "If [conference attendees] see the potential of a CSAs and get thinking about it and talking about it, the word will spread. All they have to do is have a salad from my greenhouse and they will be convinced that there should be one on every block of every neighborhood in Minnesota," said Ford.

For more information about The Home Grown Economy Conference or to register visit Home Grown Economy.

Photo by Chuck Waibel: Inside Ford and Waibel's greenhouse in Milan