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John M. Steiner / The Sun Joshua Geinert and his parents, Tim and Joanne, will harvest all of the produce as it reaches picking stage for Geinert Gardens.

Geinert Gardens keeps growing in Nortonville

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On Wednesday Joshua Geinert of Nortonville, N.D., spent most of his afternoon and evening picking rhubarb from one of the family’s gardens, which is the basis of the business — Geinert Gardens — he started with his parents, Tim and Joanne.

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He picked 1,092 pounds of the vegetable, most of which will go to the Maple River Winery in Casselton, N.D.

“They make a rhubarb wine that tastes just like rhubarb pie,” Joanne Geinert said.

Joshua Geinert will be a junior this fall at Edgeley Public School and is spending his second summer running Geinert Gardens. Geinert Gardens started as an FFA project for Geinert in 2013. He said he was able to secure a loan with Heartland State Bank in Edgeley to purchase a high tunnel — a structure made of a metal frame with plastic stretched over it to capture in the heat of the sun and the ground. High tunnels enable growers to extend the growing season of different plants.

“We got a late start last year; we planted in late June. Usually we don’t plant past Father’s Day,” he said. “We went pretty deep into October and had some stuff growing until November.”

Geinert said he is able to grow strawberries with the high tunnel, a fruit not usually grown in North Dakota.

Geinert and his father built their first high tunnel in spring 2013. They plan on building their second high tunnel, which will be twice as long as the first, by mid-July. Geinert said the family was able to get a grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to help purchase the second high tunnel.

In addition to the high tunnel, Geinert has about two acres planted across the driveway from his family’s home with a variety of vegetables and fruits, from pumpkins and squash to watermelon, beans and parsnips.

Geinert grows the fruits and vegetables that his family sells at farmers markets around the area and for Geinert Gardens’ community supported agriculture. Community supported agriculture is when a farmer or grower offers shares of the produce he or she will grow for sale. People buy the shares and when produce becomes available they get an equal portion of it.

Geinert said he has no interest in becoming a commercial farmer but likes the scale of his current business.

“This is my favorite part of farming (small-scale gardens), there is so much more you can do, so many different varieties (of vegetables and fruit) you can grow,” he said. “The technology, there is a wider spectrum of things you can grow in the high tunnels, I really like it.”

Geinert uses plastic mulch in the gardens. Plastic mulch is a high-strength sheet of plastic that is highly stretchable and is placed on the top of plants. The plastic helps the vegetables and fruit grow while keeping weed growth down.

Geinert Gardens had a good first year and with the second high tunnel going up next month, Geinert said the family should be able to increase the production of row crops by four or five times of their first year plantings. One challenge Geinert and his parents have is with water. The water on the property has a high mineral and rust content and can’t be used to grow plants.

“Mom and dad tried growing a garden with the water here one year, and it didn’t go so well,” Geinert said.

Tim Geinert has a business in Nortonville and the family fills up a 1,500 gallon tank at the business to water the gardens. They have a larger tank that they dump the water into, and depending on the weather, they haul water in once or twice a month.

Geinert said he plans to keep the business going at least through high school. He hasn’t decided what he plans to do for college and a career, but he keeps his childhood dream of being a groundskeeper for a professional baseball team in the back of his mind.

“I think Target Field (in Minneapolis) is pretty nice,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind being a groundskeeper for the Twins.”

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at colson@jamestownsun.com

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Chris Olson
Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University
(701) 952-8454
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