At first glance it was a lapsed dairy farm with barns aslant and forest roads of daunting erosion. The fields had ticked away the years in perpetual corn/soybean rotation, while the woods grew thick in buckthorn and the vast bluff top prairie became a mat of thistles. Only a dwindling herd of feral cattle were left to ruminate.
But the beauty of the bluffs and that forgotten top-prairie was undeniable. So, in October of 2010 we signed on the bottom line.
Since then, thanks to the guidance of our Woodland Stewardship Plan, we have worked purposefully year by year towards achieving our long-term restoration goals. In the woods, labor-intensive buckthorn and cedar removal continues slowly, but steadily, while on the prairie a regiment of prescribed mowing, burning, and seeding is beginning to allow the native grasses and flowers to displace the thistles.
The barns and forest roads required heavy equipment and hired help to sturdy them again after years of neglect. It then took several more years of bobcat work, watershed management, landscaping, mowing, gardening, and trail clearing before the farm we envisioned began to emerge. Our fields are now finally returning to organic health through sustainable practices and are showing the results of our venture into hops. An elaborate trail system, doubling as a disc golf course now decorates our property, linking farm to woods and prairie. And in the place of feral cattle, free-range laying hens now roam the property.
So, it is with tremendous pride that we are finally able to introduce you to Sweet 16 Farm. Named for its picturesque location along State Highway 16 in the Root River Valley of southeastern Minnesota, the beauty of this special place is now a destination for those who share our dream.
Meet your Farmers
Sarah Mann – farmer, florist, artist, mother
Sarah grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. After completing her degree in photography and web design at R.I.T. in Rochester, NY, she returned home to Minnesota. In 2008 she moved to a 1-acre farming property in Montgomery, MN where she fell in love with everything rural and began the search for her forever home. The Driftless region of Minnesota called to her, as she had often visited as a girl, and since finding this beautiful farming property in 2010 she has been hard at work building the soil and her skills, taking every opportunity to learn, connect, and create a place to live and grow and raise her son Sebastian.
Rebecca Sammis – farmer, event planner, lover of all things bluegrass
Rebecca is the newest addition to our farm team and we don’t know what we ever did without her! She tends to the farm with such love and care, and attention to detail – without a doubt our plants are happier knowing she’s around. An avid lover of bluegrass music, songs drift across our fields from her back-pocket speakers creating a playlist to our day.