About ARF

"Conservation means harmony between men and land. When land does well for its owner, and the owner does well by his land; when both end up better by reason of their partnership, we have conservation. When one or the other grows poorer we do not.... It is the individual farmer who will weave the greater part of the rug on which America stands." 
-Aldo Leopold, in his 1939 essay "The Farmer as a Conservationist"

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Alternative Roots Farm is a certified organic family farm and orchard offering diversified produce through farmers market, direct sales and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Shares. ARF organic apples are available through direct sales, Apple Shares and wholesale. ARF is owned and operated by husband and wife team, John and Brooke Knisley.  

We are passionate about bringing fresh, nutritious, quality produce to our local community; as well as growing nutritious food in a way that is in harmony with nature and conservation-minded.
The farm sits on 5 lovely acres in rural Madelia, Brown County--the land supports a half acre of vegetables and fruits, a native prairie planting, developing orchard, pasture for our heritage hogs and laying hens, a passive solar deep winter greenhouse, on-farm kitchen and farm store coming soon!

We manage a 2-acre Organic apple orchard just outside New Ulm. We began managing and renovating this established orchard in 2012, bringing it back into production and good health, gaining organic certification in 2014. The 10-acre apple orchard we manage is just outside of Lake Crystal, and is currently in transition to organic for Aug. 2020. Our home orchard is planted to apples, apricots, pears and plums.

In our "deep winter greenhouse" we grow baby salad greens, microgreens and shoots during the winter months, October - April and offer them at local markets and through our Winter CSA. This project was done in partnership with the University of Minnesota RSDP

We specialize in heirloom produce, not just tomatoes but many other vegetable and apples too! This is of importance to us because of the superior quality of nutrition and taste, as well as to preserve heritage and diversity.  

We continually strive to improve our farm-site with wildlife habitat and conservation practices. Attracting wildlife promotes ecological biodiversity, strengthens our environment and aids in organic pest control.

Our  chickens and pigs support the cycling of nutrients on our farm, as well adding to our joy and quality of life. The laying hens provide fresh eggs that fuel us through the season and are available for purchase - in 2018 we have a large flock expansion and aim to increase egg availability in the Fall. We raise heritage pigs on pasture, during the summer/Fall, offering them as whole/half hogs; the pigs are a BIG part of organic pest management at the orchard!  

Alternative Roots Farm is a Minnesota Water Quality Certified Farm.

.  .  .  .  . Meet Your Farmers.  .  .  .  . 

Brooke is passionate about farming, the environment and community (and happy pigs). At the farm she is most often found pulling weeds, wrangling the wheel hoe or harvesting delicious veggies. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family, reading and watching movies. She loves spending time outdoors foraging wild edibles, hiking and listening to the sounds of nature. She is interested in medicinal herbs and holistic health. Working in nature and making healthy, local food is a dream come true.

"I love working with my hands in the soil! This farm is my office, how awesome. I get to work with the love of my life and bring healthful food to my community. It's not always easy, but it is meaningful and fulfilling."

A degree in Environmental Studies (University of CA, Santa Cruz), plus three years working in natural resources conservation (USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service), avid gardening and years as a CSA member provide Brooke's background and transition into farming. Brooke founded the Goosetown Roller Girls (2011-2016), a not-for-profit community oriented roller derby league.

John is passionate about farming and the great outdoors.  At the farm he is most often found working at the orchard or with the herd of pigs.  In his spare time he is an avid forager, enjoys fishing, hunting, canoeing and pretty much anything out of doors and hands-on. John volunteers teaching Master Naturalist courses, and has partnered with local groups, such as the library and the River Rangers, to provide educational presentations. As a Master Naturalist he is enthusiastic and knowledgeable about environmental education, preserving and promoting our natural environment, and environmental stewardship.

A degree in Environmental Policy and Planning (Bemidji State University), time as a naturalist, environmental educator, avid gardener and CSA member provide John's background and transition into farming. He currently works for Brown County, providing environmental services in the Planning/Zoning office. He serves on the board for the Organic Fruit Growers Association, as well as Linden Township.

is an animal lover and enjoys living in the country. She loves art, especially singing, painting and drawing. Nature and the environment are important to her and she is concerned endangered animals. She lends a hand on the farm with the animals. 

Leopold joined the farm in March 2019 - the year of the pig! Very fitting for our little boy. He already loves to watch the chickens and pigs!

Alternative Roots Farm is a proud member and supporter of 
Land Stewardship Project
Sustainable Farming Association
Minnesota Grown and 
Organic Fruit Growers Association.

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