By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Just-picked produce is a quick turn off the highway for anyone driving along County Road 4 between Meire Grove and Green-
wald. Marv and Rita Meyer and their children, Emma, Justine, Luke and Miranda, toil in the garden for a bountiful harvest.
Marv is the fifth generation on the 155-year-old farm, but the direction of his life could easily have taken him somewhere entirely different.
He grew up on the farm across the road, while his great-uncle tilled the home place.
“It all kind of evolved,” he said. “I wanted to be a game warden, but it was very competitive.”
After a year of college, Marv enlisted in the Army, followed by active duty assignments to Honduras and Fort Riley, Kan.
He returned home and joined the Minnesota Army National Guard but a car accident derailed any plans Marv had made.
“They thought I was going to die three times,” he said. “I wasn’t supposed to be able to walk, and wore leg braces for two years.”
He also had a stroke during his recovery, and was later found to be riddled with pulmonary embolisms.
A long recovery offered him the opportunity to reflect.
“It gave me good reason to examine busy-ness,” said Marv, “and what to do in life.”
After trying several different educational institutions, Marv graduated from North Dakota State University (NDSU) with an engineering degree.
He was in the North Dakota Air Guard for a time and later joined the Army Reserve, retiring in 2007.
Around the time he met Rita, who had grown up on a Hereford farm in Rosen, Marv had recovered to such an extent that in 1996, they hiked the Appalachian Trail together. They did the “thru hike” all the way from Georgia to Maine, living in a tent for six months.
“All the people we met were wonderfully kind to us,” Rita said.
“That was better than the scenery,” said Marv.
Rita, also an NDSU graduate, had been a corporate dietitian for the Minnesota Vikings. She and Marv married and moved onto the 55-acre farm in 1998, after the house was renovated.
“He did most of the work himself,” Rita said. “The house was gutted. It was raised up and a new basement poured.”
The farm produced hogs and crops until 2012, with a herd of beef cows for about six years.
They were tending large vegetable gardens when they got a call from a Brainerd community-sustained agriculture (CSA) farm about six years ago.
“He had been hailed out and bought our stuff to fulfill contracts,” Marv said. “He pretty much cleaned us out all summer.”
“After that, we just kept going bigger,” said Rita. “The Greenwald Pub buys a lot of our vegetables, since they do a full salad bar on Thursdays.”
The cold, wet spring delayed or prevented some of the garden work.
“Typically, we have potatoes in by Good Friday,” Rita said. “I cross-country skied on Good Friday.”
The Meyers used to take produce to the Melrose Farmers Market, but have chosen to just sell off the farm.
“We can work until people drive in, instead of being planted in one spot,” Marv said.
The Meyers’ goal is to have a self-serve, reach-in cooler in a shed Marv built between a garden and the driveway.
The greenhouse — which didn’t get put up this spring — should be working next year with an initial crop of romaine lettuce.
The Meyers produce their own electricity through a wind turbine that was put up in 2011.
“I had read about them all over the place and had seen advertising at all the farm shows,” Marv said.
The receipt of a Minnesota wind power grant allowed a 30 percent federal tax credit.
“We get a better-than-10 percent return on our investment,” he said. “We’ll likely recover expenses within 10 years. There is also a 10-year parts and labor warranty on the turbine.”
Although the long winter and wet spring kept the Meyers from planting all of their gardens this year, they have plentiful produce, including peas and beans, beets, onions, potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers.
Rita, who is a columnist for the St. Cloud Diocese “The Visitor,” takes special orders for breads, muffins and cookies. Free-range brown eggs are available.
Call-ahead orders are accepted at (320) 987-3113.