By Jennie Zeitler
Lisa Baker grew up close to the soil on seven acres in Collegeville Township, helping her parents with chickens, horses and gardens. Those experiences were expanded by membership in 4-H and FFA, ultimately leading Baker to a sustainable family farm operation of her own.
“My ag teacher, Don Eikmeier, was my idol,” said Baker.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from the College of St. Benedict. She then earned her master’s degree from St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis with a major in human development with a focus on servant leadership.
Ten years later, after working in Minneapolis and Chicago, Baker stopped to ask herself what she was doing in corporate America.
“It wasn’t enough for fulfillment,” she said. “I was just existing. My money was going to distracting myself every day.”
Baker had always been “the natural girl” — the girl who never tanned, never dyed her hair, never wore makeup. But after her mom got sick in 2008 she stopped to think.
“What does life mean?” Baker asked. “I hadn’t cared what I ate, but my mom started suggesting I eat organic.”
In 2010, she bought 15 acres of land not far from where her parents now live near Avon. Thinking at first that she would let her parents use it, she soon decided to do something with the land herself and move away from her corporate office.
She set a goal for a two-year transition to a new farming life on her land. She would save as much money as possible to fund her new life with the proceeds from her corporate job.
For a couple of summers, she lived with her parents on long weekends, working from home Fridays and Mondays.
In 2010, a new well was dug. In 2011, the first full year, a barn was built and Baker got horses — “for fun.”
The first year Bakers’ Acres offered community supported agriculture (CSA) shares was 2012.
In April 2013, Baker took the leap and quit her city job to dedicate herself to full-time farming. She continues to live with her parents for the time being, while they garden with her.
“Their motto is, ‘When it’s not fun anymore, we go home,’” Baker said.
The CSA shares were delivered to Twin Cities locations in 2012 and 2013, but will be expanding to also make deliveries in Central Minnesota in 2014.
“We will be delivering to drop-off points in St. Cloud, Sartell, Cold Spring, Albany and Melrose this year,” Baker said. “Shares can also be picked up at the farm near Avon.”
Baker continues to make improvements to farm facilities and production. In 2013, a food safety plan was implemented. A wash and pack room including concrete and stainless steel equipment was constructed. The project included an outdoor hydrant and a rest room.
To extend the planting season in the spring and the harvest seasons in the fall, a hoop house was constructed.
“We invite our community to connect with quality food and experiences surrounding food, with the intention to serve the health of the mind, body and land,” said Baker’s website.
In reflecting back on the 2013 season in a message to her customers, Baker said on her website blog, “… (I made) a giant leap from a life of luxurious meaninglessness in a cubicle to a life filled with endless physical hard work, daunting accountability for our food system evolution, and constant real pressure to make sure I deliver a quality product…and I love it.”
Her farm gives Baker a purpose and connects her with the community. It’s not something she takes for granted.
“I want to feel balanced instead of just existing,” Baker said. “I want to be aware of the life I live. The simple and aware life is a good one.”
For more information, call (320) 309-0746 or visit www.bakersacresfarm.com.