Afton Mist is a number of small farms around the Twin Cities that creates relationships between growers, land, community, and the natural patterns and creatures that help make it all work together. The main farm is in Afton, named for the way the mist curls in over the fields in the hilly terrain.
Hunter and May own and run Afton Mist Farms; Hunter has been farming since he was five years old. Along with the very hard work of farming, the couple is always on the look-out for new partnerships and opportunities to make a real difference in their community and grow their business. May is also on the Board of the Central Minnesota Vegetable Growers Association, which runs the Minneapolis Farmers Market.
There is an interesting relationship between tradition and innovation, alive and well at Afton Mist Farms. “I learned a lot of the rotation and patch systems from the traditional farming done in Laos where there isn’t a lot of land, so people got very good at making the most of it—because they depend on it.”
This traditional approach mixes with new information and systems, “Before I farm, I theorize,” Hunter said. “There’s planting, growing, picking and transporting—you have to work through the whole cycle. I build in lots of time to think.” That thinking helped create a very innovative partnership last year with Gedney Company to grow pickles. One of the Afton Mist sites behind Gedney Company, was home to a community farm full of trapezoid-shaped fields, with beehives dispersed along the edge so bees can pollinate the plants, and pepper plants growing between the cucumbers. “Peppers grow tall and shade the cucumber vines which helps them grow healthier and make better tasting food.”
“It is so interesting how plants help each other,” Hunter said. Maybe their experience with watching plants work together is part of what inspired May and Hunter to help coordinate growers into unique partnerships that benefit the community and the farmers (and we won’t even talk about the eaters!).
Afton Mist Farms sell all kinds of produce including onions, daikon, beans, lettuce, shallots, garlic, and so much more.
And at Afton Mist, there is a culture of people, plants and the community coming together to help each other. Personally, I think it makes the food taste better! And you can check that out for yourself right now at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, open seven days a week—until the cold comes on in and settles down, then we’re open only on weekends.