When Ann Brombach was furloughed from her job at Health Partners due to Covid-19, she found herself with extra time on her hands and began thinking about her family’s farm off Goshen Blvd. in Belle Plaine. The farm has been in her family for over 100 years, beginning with her great grandparents Thomas and Lulia Chard and followed by her grandparents Bill and Edith Chard Haag. Now Ann, along with her mother Ruth Haag Brombach and daughter Edith Weinstein from St. Paul, have brought life back to the land where she remembers growing up, when she spent weekends and many hours weeding alongside her mother, grandmother and great grandmother.
“I guess five generations have been working on this property and now it’s all women run,” said Ann Brombach.
It started as an experiment during Memorial Day weekend when the three planted by hand two organic flower fields and some vegetables of roughly a half acre – one field has mixed flowers and one sunflowers. The farm is named “Edith’s Farms” after Brombach’s grandmother.
After graduating from Belle Plaine High School, Edith Haag taught in the rural Belle Plaine Schools and later moved to St. Paul to attend business school in 1926. Edith returned to live on the farm with her husband, Bill, and farmed the land in the 60s through mid-80s. The Brombaches helped in taking care of the farm and gradually took over the responsibility and shared in the ownership. They now rent out the farm house and other fields.
The land where the gardens are now planted had previously been used for grazing cattle but hasn’t been used in 40 years.
Brombach explained, “The area hasn’t been planted in so long and we wanted to bring life and beauty back to it without animals or chemicals.”
To make it useful, interesting and pretty, Brombach decided to plant the mixed flowers and sunflowers because they didn’t require irrigation, chemicals or major weeding.
The three have been coming out to Belle Plaine to weed about 2-3 times a week. The flowers began blooming around the first week in August and the following weekend they picked 160 flowers for a wedding.
After that first pick, Brombach wrote on the Edith’s Farm Facebook page, “It has been a dream come true and just so much fun.”
They planted two types of sunflowers, the branching kind and single-stem. The single-stem sunflowers produce just one flower from one seed and the branching sunflowers produce numerous blooms over summer and early fall.
Edith’s Farms hosted a family-friendly, U-Pick Sunflower Event on Tue., Aug. 18 and will host another one on Wed., Aug. 19, from noon to 5 p.m. at 22561 Goshen Blvd. in Belle Plaine. Masks are required and social distancing is encouraged.
The cost is $5 per car and $2 per cut sunflower. Scouts can enter for free with proof of membership. Pre-arranged appointments are available by calling 612-889-4834.
Brombach hopes to make the U-Pick Sunflower event an annual occurrence, at least for the next two years before they will need to rotate the plants.
“I hope we can continue improving the grounds and buildings with our efforts," said Brombach.
In the spring, they are hoping to do tulips so come September they will be back in the fields planting about 500 bulbs.