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FARMERS

In Eolia, Missouri, Hart Beet Farm preserves the land while producing food for its community

For Nicki Morgan, co-owner of Hart Beet Farm, there is a strong connection among culture, food and equity. A student of anthropology, she has always been passionate about societal structures and inequality.

“I was really interested in learning more about food, where our food comes from, [and] how we make choices about what we eat,” Morgan says.

An apprenticeship with a farmer in Minnesota helped her realize she could merge her passions for culture, gardening and equity by running a sustainable farm. With her wife, Katie Hochstedler, and her parents, Beth and Daryl Morgan, she set out to work on establishing an organic, regenerative farm in Eolia, Missouri.

“Our No. 1 priority is working with nature instead of against nature” she says. “Our system is a part of the larger system and not apart from it.” 

The farm is Certified Naturally Grown, a grassroots alternative to Certified Organic, as well as being no-till, pesticide- and herbicide-free, and free from synthetic fertilizers. Morgan believes it is possible to run a successful business and be in harmony with nature.

“There are things we can do to protect our crops but also not deny the natural world its own existence as well,” she says.

Hart Beet Farm offers a variety of produce at the Lake St. Louis Farmers Market and through its CSA. It produces arugula, cucumbers, fennel, green beans, peas, pumpkins and more. In addition to farming, it also forages sumac, blackberries and morels. Morgan’s favorite crop is okra, which is a vegetable that grows like a weed in Missouri’s climate.

“You can roast it, grill it, or you could just sear it in a skillet that’s really hot, and then sprinkle with a little salt, olive oil, paprika and lime juice,” she says.

The farm’s CSA has become wildly popular. Boxes typically include eight to 12 different vegetables, plus herbs, jams, maple syrup or log-grown mushrooms. This year, after a half-hour, all of the slots were filled. Look for announcements about next year’s sign-ups around the holidays.

The CSA and the farmers markets help Morgan accomplish her favorite part of the job.

“Working to educate the community about food, getting people to try new things, [and] getting children to try interesting foods is really great,” she says. “Having that interaction with the community and talking about food is very rewarding.”

Hart Beet Farm, 573.898.9044, hartbeetfarm.com

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Managing Editor

Mary Andino is the managing editor at Feast. She loves making gnocchi, talking with farmers and makers, and promoting sustainability.

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