Sustainable Farmers – Chapter 18

Hoch Orchard and Gardens, La Crescent, Minnesota. Jackie & Harry Hoch.

Overlooking one of Hoch’s many idyllic orchards, you can see apple and apricots here. Note the rows are not void of plantings in between, rather plants that attract beneficial insects and provide nutrients for the soil are grown there.

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Another view shows off the tall tree wind blocks which protect the orchard

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A closer view shows the variety of ground cover between rows of fruit trees. The diverse variety of trees are in varying degrees of maturity and height.

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The ground cover is full of beneficial plants, especially attractive to pollinators.

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The wind block was started years ago when Jackie & Harry first began planning their orchards. The Poplars grow fast and tall, but will not live as long as the evergreen which will take over after the Poplars have gone and are planted in between each Poplar.

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The hives are located along a windbreak to help protect the honeybees from weather. This place is a honeybee heaven.  These orchards and gardens provide a variety of forage at different times of year. There’s even a garden just for pollinators full of indigenous flowering plants.

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No harmful chemicals or toxins are used here. Hoch collects detailed information including number of days passed, amount of moisture, etc. to determine when specific insects will hatch. Then the appropriate deterrents are erected like this sticky red ball and pheromone trap.

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Kaolin clay is sprayed on some of the mature trees after the blossoms have turned to fruit.  The clay deters certain beetles and other harmful insects from leaves and fruit. It’s totally organic and can even be eaten on the fruit and such.

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Moveable chicken houses are dotted around the orchards.  These chickens help keep the insect population down.

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There are raspberry bushes both in high tunnels and in the orchards.  They are heaving with berries.

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High tunnels allow the farmer to control the amount of sunlight and moisture better, and also provide protection from weather.

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IMG_4116_1Red and black raspberries are carefully picked by hand directly into the carton and refrigerated before they are delivered to Twin Cities co-ops and other grocers.

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Hoch Farm functions as a school for international students through the MESA program. They learn about sustainable agriculture.  They have comfortable living quarters right here on the farm, fresh produce from Hoch’s own gardens and security provided by the cutest dog ever!

IMG_4301_1Jackie & Harry Hoch are the owners/farmers of this beautiful piece of heaven.  Plant life and pollinators abound, this land is bursting with life.  They employ sustainable, permaculture, biodynamic and organic principles.  Below is one of their berry high tunnels.

IMG_4137_1Note the permaculture practice of companion planting between the rows

IMG_4095_1_1Also on the farm, you’ll find vegetable gardens, a pollinator garden, and this medicinal herb garden.

IMG_4224_1The farm dog keeps an eye out for strangers.  He might lick one to death. Hoch Orchard & Gardens produces amazing healthy berries, fruit, apricot and raspberry apple sauces, apple ciders, honey, apple cider and wine grape jelly, AND watch for their newest product this year– hard cider.

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Laurie Schneider is a visual storyteller whose portrait and documentary projects capture the humanity of her subjects with a sensitivity and vibrancy that engage the audience.  She specializes in photographing people who shape the landscape of our times, showing us how they look, what they do, and the way they influence our world.  Laurie’s projects include commercial, editorial and portraiture work with sustainable agriculture, animals, and people.  When she is not clicking the shutter, Laurie is riding horses or rescuing honeybee swarms.  She is proud to be a steward of the land. Laurie is a recipient of the Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and arts and cultural heritage fund.  Contact Laurie directly for assignment work at 651-351-1100 or laurie@lschneider.com

 

 

 

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