About Flying Tomato


washer woman

This is me, Rebecca Terk, washing bok choy from my former gardens on the farm in Southeastern South Dakota.

I am a small farmer.  I am a real farmer.  I reject the USDA classification of small farms as “hobby” or “lifestyle” farms, as if anything under 50 acres is simply a lark.  I stand for local economies and sustainable development.

We (my partner Harry and I, as well as a couple farm helpers) had a little over an acre in vegetable and fruit production.  The rest of the farmscape is in grasses and shelterbelts that are home to a diverse array of wildlife, native pollinators, and other living and decaying things.

And even though I am now living up in Western Minnesota’s Big Stone County doing local foods organizing and rural revitalization projects, I still get back to the farm every now and then.

In the meantime, I’m renting a place in a tiny little town and planning to turn a large portion of the double lot into gardens.  Maybe pass an “urban” chicken ordinance if there isn’t one on the books already.  Basically doing work I am passionate about in a place that really needs it.

It’s beautiful here.  And, while I still occasionally post about South Dakota matters on this blog, if you want to keep up on what I’m doing lately, come on over the border to my Minnesota blog: Big Stone Bounty.

It’s safe–trust me.  And you can still see South Dakota from here.

40 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cody Blomberg on January 23, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    I am so glad to have you blog back. There was something missing from my life and now I feel whole.
    Keep it going sistah!
    love you,
    codee

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on January 24, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Thanks! Sorry it took me awhile to extend invitations–I was trying to get some content up and my format right.
    Love you too!
    –re.

  3. Posted by littlegardenerontheplains on February 5, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Hey, Rebecca, Thanks for letting me know about your website. Enjoyed your review of our trip to Brookings.
    I am desperate to get things started for the season, but guess I am stuck in the cold north until March.

  4. Posted by Denise on February 7, 2008 at 12:51 am

    Hello Becky,

    I wanted to let you know that I visited your website and enjoyed it. I hope you are able to have a successful growing season and I am grateful that you shared some of your harvest in the form of jellies and salsa with Glenn and I during the holidays.

    Best of luck this season!

    Denise

  5. Hi Rebecca–

    I’m new to this blogging thing, but found you by googling “seed starting blogs”. I’m so happy I found your site.

    Good for you for all you do! and for living out your convictions. You go girl!

    I’m with you on every count–including, even, having English degrees and loving essay writing! I’m a serious organic gardener, but just grow for me and my husband… well, I guess I do sort of feed the neighborhood. And, I’m a gardening a bit further north than you are…in north central Minnesota.

    Anyway, you are an inspiration. I’ll be back.

  6. Posted by Phedon and Jen on March 8, 2008 at 1:21 am

    Now we know Iwecan pick your brain as well as the dirt when it comes to ideas for eating and growing veggies. We don’t mind ours with a bit of dirt on them either. Yum! Hopefully next time we get together you will have some ready for us to nosh on.
    The site looks great. Keep up the awesome work!

  7. Posted by joe stinchfield on May 5, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Rebecca:

    i was fooling around on google and did a search on my own name and discovered your review of the report i did many years ago on energy and agriculture. it was an interesting time when published and there was so much uncertainty regarding the future. much of what we feared back then has come to pass. sigh.

    i love your focus on raising food in a sustainable manner. if more agriculutre shifted towars your approaches, i suspect we would all be better off. good luck.

    joe

  8. Posted by flyingtomato on May 6, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks, Joe!

    My partner, Harry, was involved in that project back when he was hog farming.

    He dug the report out of a box in his barn and gave it to me to read–really fascinating stuff, and yes, many of those findings did prove prescient.

    Thanks again for the comment!

    –Rebecca

  9. was surfing hyperion this morning and see you reported on last night’s meeting at vermillion. i was very encouraged to see another person taking pen (in this case computer) in hand and speaking out about the Hyperion issue. if you have time, you may want to visit my blog and see what i have been writing about for the last year or so..enjoyed the blog. keep it up.

  10. Hi, I was surfing, looking at various information on SD and came across the link to your blog. I am looking to return to SD…probably this Spring/Summer…and I have a friend that has turned me on to CSA’s/Farmer’s Markets, and so forth. We are exploring W. River, as my job is wanting me to live in that side of the state..and specifically exploring the Southern Hills…don’t want the crazy life of the populated Northern Hills. So…any thoughts? I know W. SD is not known for much “farming”…but, know anyone who is growing large gardens out there?
    Sooz

  11. Posted by flyingtomato on January 4, 2009 at 10:34 am

    My advice would be to check out Dakota Rural Action’s local food directory. It encompasses the whole state, so you’ll be able to look at who is producing what out there. Good luck on your move!
    –re.

  12. Posted by Claire on January 19, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I went to Chae’s twice today! Lunch with friends and dinner with Lee for our anniversary. We were probably there at the same time.

  13. Posted by dwhitsett on February 11, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    Hi Rebecca…
    Thanks for listing me on your blogroll…I’ve had several referrals from your site.

  14. Hi,

    I have been following your blog and really enjoy it! Our newspaper, The Lennox Independent (Lennox, SD), has recently done a website re-design (http://www.lennoxnews.com) and I am looking for some blogs that I can link to. I think our readers would really enjoy yours. If that is something you would consider, please let me know! Thanks.

    Kelli

  15. Posted by flyingtomato on April 6, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    That’s fine by me! Thanks for reading.

    –re.

  16. Hi Rebecca
    I would very much appreciate getting your opinion on row cover and or plastic.
    If you look at my website http://www.veggiecare.com the reason will be plain but I do have a serious and sincere interest in helping people grow locally and organically.
    You mentioned that you use row cover so my question is how much do you use it and what do you hope to achieve from its use and does it meet your aims?
    Similarly, if you use hoop houses covered in plastic the same question applies.
    Do you find that using row cover or plastic has any serious disadvantages?
    Or on the positive side what characteristics would you like them to have that at present they do not provide?
    I am conscious that you may perceive my post as just being a way to promote my products so if so please just remove it from your blog, though I would very much appreciate and value your responses to my questions if you have the time.
    Cheers
    John
    PS Seeing you are an instructor in English makes writing to you very daunting!

  17. Posted by flyingtomato on June 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    John–

    OK, I’ll bite. Please don’t use my comment approval to sell stuff on my blog.

    I don’t use plastic, but I do use floating row cover. I use it quite often for a number of purposes–more in the spring than summer/fall.

    I use row cover to protect against cold snaps, flea beetles and other insect problems, and to moderate the effects of hot, dry winds. I also use it over crops that are shallowly sown in order to keep the soil moist and to aid in germination of same (and also to help weak germinators like carrots).

    Does it meet my aims? Yes, mostly, or I wouldn’t use it. I occasionally to get some insect damage under the covers, so I sometimes use them in concert with diatomaceous earth.

    Disadvantages: I live in a windy climate. That makes row cover difficult to lay/secure sometimes. It also makes it harder to keep them in good shape from season to season, though I do generally get a few seasons out of a cover, and I cut them into shorter lengths if need be until they’re too worn out to use. The major issue is that a cover that is lightweight enough to let in a decent amount of light and yet provide a few degrees of frost protection generally tends to rip easily. So there’s a trade-off between the weight/durability and the light availability.

    If there was a way to make them more durable without sacrificing the amount of light pass-through, that would be nice. I have noticed that the older Agribon brand name printed row covers I got from Gardens Alive! a few years ago have outperformed the ones I got later on without a brand name printed on them–though they’re advertised as the same weight. It is also nice to have the name (or anything else, really) printed down the middle of the length of the cover, so it’s easier to find where the middle is when you’re trying to lay a cover neatly down a long row.

    Hope this helps! Don’t be scared of of the English instructor–I won’t literally bite or correct your grammar. 😉

    –Rebecca

  18. Hi Rebecca,
    I’ve been out of town w/ my s.o. who got a couple new stents at the VA in Minneapolis, tho he had a couple of scares the people at the hospital were amazing, had they been less so it would have gone much worse. Finally we’re both feeling better after the stress overload, pulling weeds in the yard after the rain yesterday is the most real I’ve felt in too long.
    The girls (hens that is) loved the wilted greens, thank you! I give away most of what they lay to neighbors much less fortunate, my 2 cents to your debate. Barring unforseen intervening events I look forward to stopping by the farmers’ market Thursday tho I’ll miss your spinach.
    As to Todd, I shake my head. I’m no babe but I value substance over looks, & believe in seeing people for what is on the inside while tending to not notice outside stuff as much. Strange I suppose to most …
    I love your enthusiasm! Wish I had a couple drops of your energy too. Later!

  19. Posted by flyingtomato on June 16, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Glad to hear you’re back, and that your s.o. is recuperating (and you are, too).

    I still have your bucket–I’ll bring it again to the market this week. Sorry I didn’t realize it was you that day, bringing the chicken poop–I thought Gail was shooing the kids away while I was on the phone!

    BTW–you are mentioned by name in one of Todd’s most recent posts, as one of his readers/supporters.

    See you soon, I hope.

    –re.

  20. Rebecca,

    I enjoyed reading your blog, and am now following you on twitter (I’m xjimenez) . Good luck w/ this years growing season.

    Xavier

  21. Hi Rebecca’
    I have used Bordeau mixture for blight with some good results, it works better as a preventative & I’m pretty sure it’s ok to use w/organics, tho you want to check to confirm that. Its an old European vinyard thing. Somewhere I remember reading that they used to plant roses at the end of the rows as a warning indicator as the roses would show damage before it spread to the vines, giving the vintners the heads up to know when it was needed before the damage spread. Let me know if you’re interested, I’ve got some & an applicator, plus some diatomaceous earth to thin it out a little & help it go farther if you have alot of plants that might need it. Haven’t forgotten about the lemon mint, I’ve been distracted w/ more so health prob’s tho fortunately we’ve found out this time it’s ok. Might try to catch you home & we can talk more about it. Later!

  22. Hi-
    Ask our friend if she (& you’re welcome too!) Still wants arricots? Stillsome nice ones…

  23. Re: the possibility of West Nile, if you get a headache go in & get checked! It sucks!

  24. It was fun to see your entries at the CC Fair- Good work!

  25. Posted by Cathy Flum on August 30, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Rebecca: I don’t know if the last message I sent went or not; it disappeared. I’m interested in purchasing some pickles from you, when will you have some at the market? The ones from last year just get better and better. Also, do you have an email I could send this recipe to? I can not get into Facebook right now.

    Thansk, Cathy P.S. Congrats on all your ribbons at the fair!!

  26. Posted by flyingtomato on August 31, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Wow! Well, I only have a couple jars left from last season’s batch, but I could make some more if you would lend me your crock–the folks I was giving little cukes to have already filled theirs. I could start this year’s batch tomorrow if we could coordinate a crock-pickle exchange. You can e-mail the recipe to me at organicpeas(AT)hotmail(DOT)com.

  27. Posted by Dyanne on September 26, 2009 at 10:55 am

    REbecca …what a great site. I have enjoyed your blog all summer..wish I had found you sooner….Love ya,

  28. Rebecca,

    I saw your comment on the Farm To Table Blog article about social media.

    I wanted to tell you about a site I just launched yesterday that was inspired by that blog post. Hopefully you can tell more folks about it as a resource.

    The site is FarmConnect.net and is a social media site aimed at connecting farms and communities.

    Farms and Farmers markets can get their own blogs, and set up their own groups and discussion forums. They can make their groups public, private (by invite only), or hidden (only their invited menmbers can see them if they choose this option). It is a great way for farms to communicate with their customers (Imagine farms keeping in touch with their CSA members this way), and farmers markets to keep in touch with their farmers, their customers, and their communities.

    FarmConnect.net uses WordPress and derivatives, so it will feel familiar to anyone who has ever had a WordPress blog before, but it is really easy to use for beginners as well.

    I hope you will sign up for a group and invite some friends. I would appreciate any feedback, positive, or negative.

    Also, anything you can do to help spread the word would be appreciated as well.

    Have a great New Year’s Eve!

    Sincerely,

    Mike Murphy
    FarmConnect.net

  29. Posted by Doug Maurstad on January 29, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    rebecca, i don’t know if you’ve heard about this or not. i just found out about this yesterday. if you have sold over $1000 in produce last year, NRCS has an EQIP program that will help you. if you can or want to be cetified as an organic farmer they will cost share up to $2500 for you to build a tunnel (hoop barn) for you to extend your growing season. there are several qualifications you must go through to be certified, but they will cost share expenses with you. you might want to call jeff loof in vermillion or kevin beermann in vermillion and see what they can offer. there isn’t a deadline, but they suggest you sign up as soon as possible..

  30. Posted by flyingtomato on January 29, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Doug–

    I have heard about it–thank you. I have been talking to various parties about some of the problematic restrictions on the program (such as having to take the plastic off in the winter). But I do already have the frame for a hoophouse, so I’m hoping to get other people into this program (I’ve posted a few blogs on it). They seem to think it’ll be opened up to non-certified growers sometime in the next year as well.

  31. Posted by themakinglife on February 2, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Rebecca,
    I’ve been lurking around your blog for a while, since we moved to Yankton last summer and heard about your farm. I love to see what you’re cooking and it helps me keep up with local issues I might not otherwise hear about.
    What you say about “hobby” farming reminds me of something from Noel Perrin’s book Third Person Rural: “Farming is a poor way to make a living, at least around here, becuase you have to go into factory farming to make it pay. It is the best hobby there is — only “hobby” is too little a word. The best way of life. Not just because you learn forty different trades, and not just because you follow the seasons, but because you get to spend your whole life producing a single work of art. That is, the farm itself.”
    We don’t have our own farm — yet. We hope to someday. In the meantime, we don’t even have a patch of land for a garden. But we grow some things in pots and try to buy locally as much as possible. I really appreciate all the hard work of people like yourself!
    Thanks,
    Sara

  32. Posted by Bob on March 27, 2010 at 8:18 am

    I bookmarked your site a while back and forgot about it (sorry). I also live in Vermillion and looking at starting a small berry farm , I am interested in the farmers market and would like any and all info you have to share on it. I also raise other produce and make bird houses feeders, planters and ect. Great blog keep it up.

  33. Hi Rebecca —
    When you have time, how about doing a piece on itinerant merchants and how the agreement was hammered out?
    Mary Shepherd
    Farmers Markets Today
    mshepherd@farmersmarketstoday

  34. Posted by flyingtomato on April 5, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Mary–

    That’s been in the back of my head this whole time–as in, “when this is finally over, I bet it’d make a great article for FM Today.” It might take me a bit to get something together–I’m going to take a little time to recover from this lengthy process.

  35. Posted by Bob on April 6, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Rebecca, since your in the main stream of things what veggies would go best at the vermillion farmers market. I should have strawberries and raspberries this fall and some aspergus this spring. I will also have tomatoes like everyone else this summer, just looking for some insite as what I may grow extra. Thanks for any and all info you may share
    Bob

  36. Posted by flyingtomato on April 6, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Bob–

    Things like broccoli and cabbage and greens are nice because so few of the truck farmers do them. Asian specialty greens and veggies are also good because we have a decent Asian population here because of the U., and they appreciate finding something that reminds them of home and that they can’t get in the grocery store. Berries are always very popular. Asparagus is huge, and we never have enough at the market–so you’ll do well with that.

    –re.

  37. Posted by Bob on April 6, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    forgot I had some oriental eggplant and small chinese cabbage , not alot but some. I work at the U also .

  38. Posted by Bob on April 6, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Thanks for the reply sorry I forgot it in the post
    Bob

  39. Hi Rebecca, I found your blog through The Greenhorns. My family’s farms are near Emmetsburg Iowa. We fall into that category of absentee landlords. After 40+ years of corn & beans I’m changing our farming practices to organic row crops with a new farm organized around grass-fed cattle, pastured poultry and vegetable gardens. I’m looking for a solid team of farm entrepreneurs dedicated to producing fresh healthy food for our area in North West Iowa. If you know of any, I’d appreciate any leads. Keep growing. Harn Soper

  40. Rebecca,

    Your blog popped up as a “recommended link” and I’m glad of that. Very nice, very well written. Keep it up. Peter Minde

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