Hillside Prairie Gardens, owned by Steve and Mary Kay Helling, is the farm that inspired this book. It has existed in different capacities for many years, including Farmers Markets, U-picks, and the neighborly trading of goods.
Produce from HPG comes to the eater at its freshest, organically certified and free of chemicals, pesticides, and artificial fertilizers of any kind.
“Our farm is USDA Organic certified by MOSA. All of the produce grown is done so without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or other chemicals. We are very conscious of how we treat the soil, as it is what sustains the farm. We are fortunate and happy to be able to utilize manure from a neighboring sheep operation (Thanks Ron). Manure is a fantastic soil amendment, but too much could eventually create problems; therefore it is only one of many ways we keep our soil alive and well. Compost and cover crops are equally important in helping us replenish our soil. Generally we lean toward legume cover crops like hairy vetch and different clovers due to their nitrogen fixing properties. Having healthy, well-structured soil is the most important part of any farm.
Well-balanced soil is our first defense against pests and diseases, but some years they are inevitable even in the best kept soils. By rotating crops, using thick mulches and row covers, and starting all our own transplants we can deter many problems before they become unmanageable. A healthy plant begins life as a healthy transplant. We start all our own transplants because we can have complete control over the entire life of the plant. All seeds are either directly sown in the field or started in our greenhouse to be transplanted out later. We grow 35 different vegetables and fruit and specialize in garlic, tomatoes and raspberries.
An important aspect of the farm are the trees that surround it. Our shelterbelt protects our young crops and high tunnels from the strong prairie winds. And although we are surrounded by corn and soybeans, native plants and a multitude of creatures dwell within the the protection and nourishment of the trees. We have only 5 acres of land, but over half of it is set aside to help create a sustainable environment for other life. Without it the farm wouldn’t feel nearly as alive.
We believe in the spirit of organic.”
Learn more about the farm at http://www.hillsideprairiegardens.com.