Living a simple life on the Homestead not only helps one understand just how many things most would consider necessity to be superfluous, but also to appreciate the things that might seem easily obtained elsewhere – namely, fresh produce. On the Homestead, an emphasis is placed on the relationship between the food consumed and the surrounding eco systems.

Living a simple life on the Homestead not only helps one understand just how many things most would consider necessity to be superfluous, but also to appreciate the things that might seem easily obtained elsewhere – namely, fresh produce. On the Homestead, an emphasis is placed on the relationship between the food consumed and the surrounding eco systems.

Summer weather means magnificent garden salads for lunch made of arugula, collard, mustard greens, and sprinkled with edible wildflowers and herbs gathered from the grounds, so that the serving bowl is overflowing with rich leafy greens, pink and purple flowers, and dotted with fresh blueberries and strawberries.

In charge of the gardens and harvests is Minnesota-native Seamus Fitzgerald, who has been using organic practices to raise food crops for four years. Before arriving at the Homestead this spring, Seamus worked at Garden Farme, an organic farm located in Anoka. Although the Homestead had all the garden beds in place, the hope was that this would be the year to truly increase the amount of food prodoucd, which meant a considerable amount of planning and work. “It wasn’t overwhelming…,” Seamus explains, “but there were a lot of questions. It was a big unknown.” He describes the work of getting the gardens into shape as exhausting, but interesting. Even with his initial sketches and perpetrations, much adaptation was required. Mostly, Seamus describes the process as a sort of grand experiment, as he works to learn what will and will not flourish in the Homestead’s gardens and studies the native flora of the area.

This season marks what is hoped to be the first of many successive ones to come. In addition to an abundance of salad greens, hardy crops like turnips, beets, carrots, beans, and peas have been planted , all from open-pollinated, heirloom seeds. Seamus hopes that in the future, the garden will be a model of diversity, both in the biological and community sense. He believes that gardens are a gateway to study eco systems and human relations – a place for both scientific and personal discovery. When practiced, gardening leads to bigger questions, such as: ‘How does a culture adapt to its place?’ ‘How do you have a sustained physical relationship with your environment?’ “Gardening opened up all of this for me,” says Seamus. “It’s about learning to live with a place, and not on it.”