Published in Macalester Today
Easy Bean Farm is a 120-acre organic vegetable farm located six miles east of Milan, Minn., in the west central part of the state. Mike Jacobs ’97 and his wife, Malena Handeen, began managing the farm in 1996. The following is an excerpt from Jacobs’s newsletter, Beanstalk (May 4, 2012).
As if the fire and tornado near miss were not enough, on Wednesday evening, just as Malena and I were heading off to sleep, the western sky began to flash with an intensity and frequency that indicated a severe storm was on its way. In days gone by, people must have felt helpless when they heard those rumblings, but in this modern age I had instant access to up-to-the-minute information about the storm and what was coming. This one was a terror with rotational winds and it was recommended that we head into the root cellar.
Moments later, the storm hit, and for well over 20 minutes our farm was assaulted with the largest hailstorm I’ve ever experienced. By the time it was over the ground was covered in hail and our rain gauge showed two inches of precipitation in just over half an hour.
Although it was late, Malena and I sloshed out to the greenhouses to make sure they were still standing—they were—and checked on the plants that earlier that day we’d moved out to the cold frame to help “harden” them off. Sadly, many of the plants near the greenhouses were pulverized. Looking at the ice-covered ground my heart sank a little to think of all the plants we’d just transplanted to the fields over the previous few days. Still, having been through something like this a few times before, I knew that often the imagined devastation is far worse than the reality.
“Things will bounce back… these plants want to live!”
In the morning, after sending the kids off to school and fortifying myself with some strong coffee, I stepped outside and surveyed the fields. The soil was supersaturated and the ground was marred with craters from the hail. Around the building edges there was still a ring of hailstones that had piled up from where they’d rolled off the roofs. I spoke my favorite farming mantra: “Things will bounce back… these plants want to live!”
And amazingly, despite the hail, the little transplants actually looked fairly good—aside from some of the lettuces and the freshly emerged carrots. In fact, by late yesterday all the plants were standing tall, and though we’ll have to replant a few things and it will likely set some plants back a week, we’re still on track.