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 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Shares, Farm Shares, farmers' market and direct sales. 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; along with the help of our daughter, Emily.  

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. We produced about 10,000 lbs of vegetables and fruits from a half acre each year, feeding 50+ families directly through our membership shares.

Our off-farm apple orchard is just outside of New Ulm. We began managing and renovating this established orchard in 2012, bringing it back into production and good health. Our home orchard is planted to apples, pears and plums. Currently we only have apples for sale, as the young, grafted trees mature. In December 2016, we added a new acre of land for orchard production, we will begin establishing permaculture orchard plantings in 2017. We will be adding apricots to our orchard as well.

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. We farrow heritage pigs on pasture, which we sell as whole/half hogs and as weaner pigs to others passionate about raising animals humanely; 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 cross-country skiing. 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 in New Ulm, in 2011.

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 rock climber, 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.

Emily 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. 

Alternative Roots Farm is a proud member and supporter of Land Stewardship Project
Seed Savers Exchange
Minnesota Grown and 
Organic Fruit Growers Assocition.