Northeast farmers have ambitious plans for summer

Share this:
March 14, 2013 // UPDATED 2:05 pm - March 15, 2013
By: Ben Johnson
Jim and Jillia Bovino.
File photo
Ben Johnson

After a rushed, yet successful first season California Street Farm in Northeast is planning on ramping up production this summer.

The urban farm harvested over 30 varieties of produce that yielded about 5,000 pounds of food last year on their half acre plot located across the street from the California Arts Building. This year owners Jim and Jillia Bovino plan “to double, if not triple” their production. 

“We hope to get 10-15,000 pounds of food out of the same amount of land by growing smarter, and having more of a plan with succession planting,” said Jillia.

They will benefit from having an intern for the summer flying in from the East Coast, as well as help from their list of about 40 volunteers. Interested volunteers can email to sign up.

All 20 of California Street Farm's CSA shares have already been reserved, but they will be operating a produce stand every Wednesday at the farm, as well as selling their vegetables to the Modern Cafe and donating excess food to local food banks.

Last year the Bovinos didn't find out about the land until the end of December and had a very hectic beginning to the growing season, especially due to the hot, early spring. Local developers John Kremer and Jennifer Young own the land and have been very supportive of the fledgling farm.

“[Kremer and Young] have been our advocates, partners and have really supported us to help lease that land so we can farm it,” said Jillia. “We're friends with them, and they really believe in the idea, the model and really are committed to urban farming in Minneapolis."

Jim grew up working on a farm with his grandpa in Georgia, worked on Elsie's farm in Wisconsin, which was featured in the documentary “Dirty Work." The couple spent 2010-11 completing a formal apprenticeship on a certified organic farm in Washington state.

“While we were there we were keeping an eye on what Minneapolis was doing and we wanted to move back and access the land because the livability is so much better here than it was out west,” said Jillia. “We wanted to do urban farming and we knew that that would not really be as accessible to us in a city like Seattle.”

Since moving back to Minneapolis and starting their farm the Bovinos have been active in raising the profile of urban farming and pushing for more legislative support for farms like theirs.

“Right now there's still this idea that it's just a hobby, but we feel it's more more important than that. It's an economically viable small business operation, and one that's important to the growth of our city” said Jillia.


View California Street Farm in a larger map