The Good Acre: Providing a backbone for many a farmer!
Behind the food scene, a lot of work is required. Luckily, a non-profit food hub called The Good Acre is on the case, with a vast network of support stretching across the Twin Cities. This network partners with the Hmong American Farmers Association and Frogtown Farm, and collaborates with dozens of small, local, and organic farmers.
Rhys Williams, Executive Director, oversees this network. With decades of experience in organic farming and co-op work, Williams, along with two co-founders, had a vision. Why not go beyond the average model? Why not offer cohesive infrastructure in a community setting?
Walk into The Good Acre’s warehouse, and you will see washing stations open to farmers and gigantic walk-in fridges and freezers, which store their pallets of produce and dairy for a very low price. On CSA day, boxes are lined up for 250 shares of the 467 total they manage. Whatever a farmer needs, TGA has likely got it.
The Good Acre has an eventual goal of institutional sales and want to bring local farmers to that capacity. What does this look like? Williams envisions a sustainable cycle of local farm-to-school kitchen, which includes 13 school districts.
And, that’s one part of food infrastructure often overlooked. Schools around the nation often rely on mega suppliers while their cooks are given bland instructions and even blander frozen meals. But now, The Good Acre offers hands-on training for school cooks, a program that has recently expanded to include over a dozen schools across the Twin Cities. Here, cooks are given lessons to incorporate fresh produce into meals, including butternut squash, beets, and brussel sprouts. Plus, kids from the schools get to vote for their favorite fresh meals!
The training kitchen also allows space for groups working towards licenses, such as aspiring kombucha makers, and cooking classes for aspiring chefs (or, at least, aspiring home-cooked meal wizards). Classes are affordable and open to all, and include topics such as “Immigrant gut health,” “Global comfort foods,” and “Classic Italian soups.”
All fun aside, The Good Acre is dedicated to giving support in any form, be it physical space and materials, CSA programming, training, or even crop health support. A farm specialist frequently goes around to check in with their network of farmers, and helps them control pests and diseases with consultation from plant biologists.
And, this is only the beginning! What does this mean for Frogtowners? It means that The Good Acre hopes to expand to reach out to the greater neighborhood, beyond HAFA and Frogtown Farm. It means that we’ll certainly be seeing more of them as they make food infrastructure more accessible and reliable for locals. Because, as Williams says, “That’s the whole point of this place, to build community around food.”
Pictured: Rhys Williams outside of the TGA building.
Loco Elote with Jalapeño Lime Butter
sweet corn-on-the-cob, husked
2 jalapeño chiles 1 stick (4oz) butter
softened minced garlic
1 tsp salt zest from 1 lime additional toppings: crumbled cheese, sour cream, chili powder, chopped basil, cilantro, chives, lemon juice
Grill corn over medium-high heat, rotate until slightly charred - about 5 minutes per side. For the butter, grill the chiles until charred and cool for 5 minutes. Using a small paring knife, peel chiles and scrape out seeds; discard. Chop chiles and mix with butter, garlic, salt and lime zest. Spread butter onto grilled corn and add additional toppings if desired! Grill corn over medium-high heat, rotate until slightly charred - about 5 minutes per side. For the butter, grill the chiles until charred and cool for 5 minutes. Using a small paring knife, peel chiles and scrape out seeds; discard. Chop chiles and mix with butter, garlic, salt and lime zest. Spread butter onto grilled corn and add additional toppings if desired!