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.
SARAH & DANIEL and Sebastian Sky
Sarah Joy Wexler-Mann 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 and met Daniel. Sarah is a freelance web/graphic designer and her photography has twice been featured in the Minnesota State Fair’s Fine Art Competition. She tends a ¼ acre farm-garden, loves cooking, baking, art, nature, and sharing it all with her son Sebastian.
Daniel Drazkowski grew up in Winona, Minnesota. After traveling the Pacific Southwest and sailing the coastline into Mexico, he returned home and found work on a farm in Southeastern Minnesota. This is where he met Sarah. Daniel is passionate about landscaping, carpentry, and sustainable farming practices. He is an avid outdoorsman and nature enthusiast. He loves fishing, skiing, brewing beer, making drums, and playing music with his son Sebastian.