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Lida Farm

Ryan Pesch, looks over the progress of his seedlings. Lida Farm plants and harvests two acres of produce each year as a part of their community supported agriculture program where people can become members and the Pesches deliver a box of produce to the members each week for 16 weeks.1 / 5
The Pesches also installed a wind turbine, to help become a sustainable farm.2 / 5
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Fresh veggies delivered to the front door each week. Sounds like a healthy summer meal plan.

Lida Farm owners Ryan and Maree Pesch are providing that service for members of their "community supported agriculture" farm, located just off Otter Tail County Road 4 near Crystal-Lida lakes.

"I got turned on to natural foods at St. Peter Food Co-op," Ryan said, which was a part of his experience during college at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

After college he apprenticed at Foxtail Farm near Taylor Falls, which was a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm.

"You're buying into a share of the season's (harvest)," he said, explaining how a CSA works. And the "big reward" is getting veggies all season.

Members can also get a taste of gardening when the Pesches offer a "work day for members to get their hands dirty."

Already working a full-time day job at the University of Minnesota out of Fergus Falls, Ryan said he keeps his family farm small, with two acres of mixed produce.

They plant about 1,600 tomato plants, 1,600 pepper plants, 200 pounds of potatoes and a variety of other vegetables. The family also has a few sheep and chickens.

"It's all I can do at this point. I have a day job and I'm about tapped out," he said.

For those who buy into the CSA, each week for 16 weeks (at $425 a year), they receive a box of vegetables. There are also members who pay half the price and receive a delivery every other week.

Ryan said each box contains the staples -- tomatoes, corn, lettuce, peppers, onions and potatoes -- and then about 20 percent of the box is some kind of surprise.

They grow specialty veggies as well, like fennel, specialty radishes, heirloom tomatoes, Asian greens and more.

"You need to have a mix," he said.

The Pesches have been running the CSA farm about six years, and they now have 40 members, many of who are repeat customers each year. Ryan said it's about the size he can handle while having another full-time job.

To cut back on the carbon footprint and to provide members with a little extra service and convenience, the Pesches deliver the vegetable boxes each week.

Each member gets the same produce in each box, and some have likened it to Christmas, he said. "You don't know what you're going to get," until the box is delivered each week. "There's the element of surprise," Maree said. "We try to change it up."

They raise chickens and have chicken shares available as well.

After the Pesches fill their members' boxes, the next step is selling the remaining produce at the farmers market in Detroit Lakes and then at their self-serve stand at the end of their driveway. Mostly neighbors stop by the stand and purchase whatever veggies happen to be for sale that day.

And after the CSA members are fed, the farmers market stand is stocked, and the stand at the end of their driveway has been gone through, then the Pesch family gets to eat their own produce.

"If there's an abundance, that's what we eat," Maree said.

She said getting to work alone together is a rarity, but working the land is a good exercise routine.

Ryan said that some people have the misconception at times that farming can be romantic, exciting and dreamy, but in reality, sometimes "it's more stress than trading stocks." Having to work with Mother Nature can be a problem.

Along with the produce, the Pesches work together with their neighbors, Ken and Dori Larson, to offer "the world's smallest milk route."

Delivered with their produce, the Pesches offer Organic Valley products of milk, butter, cheese and yogurt.

"If they're into vegetables, they might want organic dairy," he said.

Their delivery route for both produce and dairy is condensed between Pelican Rapids and Detroit Lakes.

Another addition to Lida Farm is a wind turbine, which was completed in February.

"It's a step toward what is sustainable farming," Ryan said. "Where is the source of food, where is the source of energy? It seemed a part of our convictions."

Plus, it's always windy at the farm, Maree added.

"It's part of our responsibility to be sustainable," she said.