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THE FARMERS

 

We are André & Lillie Eisenbeis, high school sweethearts who grew up five miles apart near Freeman, SD. We were married in 2015 and moved back to the community a year later with the intention of starting our own farm. After spending a few years as dorm supervisors and planning our future farm, we were able to move onto a family acreage in 2018. Our little loves, Jesse (3) and Willa (6 mo), have doubled our family!

We  have degrees in agriculture & environmental science and have each had the privilege of interning with successful market gardeners, including Ben Hartman (author of The Lean Farm) of Clay Bottom Farm in Goshen, IN. ​In 2017, we spent two glorious months working & learning on farms in France through the WWOOF program.

 

We are are passionate about food and strengthening rural communities through sustainable agriculture & local food systems. For us, farming is a lifestyle anchored in values of creation care and simple living. We love being able to provide for ourselves & make simple (and occasionally fancy) meals that nourish and taste amazing.

 

Andre's family (5th Generation Farm/ Happy Grazing Dairy) sells raw organic milk door-to-door in the greater Sioux Falls area. Lillie's family (Turkey Ridge Creek Farm) raises purebred shorthorn cattle and row crops. Lillie's mom also grows all the potatoes, sweet corn, melons, and squash sold through Prairie Roots. Both families have been instrumental in forming our vision and helping our farm become reality.

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THE FARM

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Read the Article Written about Prairie Roots in the Sept. 2022 Farming Families Magazine

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Prairie Roots was established in 2018 on Lillie's Grandmother's farm. The name "prairie roots" is% formed from the idea that both of our families have farmed in this area for many generations, and we are proud to be returning to our roots. After starting with a small garden plot and 25 CSA shares, we have grown to 80 shares, two farmers markets, and several wholesale accounts. For the first time, we are pivoting and, for the sake of simplicity, focusing only on markets and 1-2 wholesale channels. Farming is a labor of love, but in our broken food and agriculture system, few farmer's financial needs are actually being met solely by farming. In order to purchase our acreage and provide for our family, Andre will begin part-time work off the farm and Lillie will take the reins in the garden, along with several part-time employees.

 

We currently have just 1.5 acres on site that is in cultivation--an area large enough to supply many families with food, but small enough for us to farm by hand with minimal fossil fuel inputs. (Some space-intensive crops are grown by Lillie's mother at a different location.) Because we use the 30" permanent bed system, having the right tools for the right scale is crucial to success. We utilize a propagation greenhouse and 4 small  tunnels to extend our season, but so far, we have not braved the Dakota winters by trying to grow year-round

Prairie Roots is also home to a flock of laying hens, a hoard of hungry cats, and our loyal Pyrenees mix Greta. We sell free-range eggs & occasional pastured whole chickens at markets. We sold our ewes, but hope to have lambs again someday soon!

GROWING PRACTICES

 

We are proponents of regenerative agriculture. 

Regenerative ag is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems. It focuses on regenerating topsoil, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting biosequestration, increasing resilience to climate change, and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil.

Building a healthy soil that supports vibrant, nutrient-dense plants is our number-one priority. We follow organic practices but are not certified organic. We rely on compost, leaf & straw mulch, and cover crops to provide long-lasting fertility.  We grow crops in intense succession so that we always have living roots in the soil. For pest control, insect netting and floating row covers are the primary defense, combined with the occasional OMRI certified spray. We are also adopting more no-till and minimal till practices to hold more soil carbon as well as maintain a healthy soil structure and rich soil biology. 

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"The ruling ideas of our present national or international economy are competition, consumption, globalism, corporate profitability, mechanical efficiency, technological change, upward mobility--and in all of them there is the implication of acceptable violence against the land and the people. We, on the contrary, must think again of reverence, humility affection, familiarity, neighborliness, cooperation, thrift, appropriateness, local loyalty. These terms return us to the best of our heritage. They bring us home."

                                                                               -Wendell Berry
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