The sign at the end of the lane is small, its promise large: Silver Creek Institute.
turn into the winding, narrow earthen track leads to a simple wooded
setting with a home and a greenhouse. It looks like someone’s
residence. In fact, it once was.
Silver Creek Institute (SCI), born to provide sustainable solutions for everyday living,
exists on 40 acres that was homesteaded by Gene and Jeanne Rondeau over
25 years ago. When the former clinic physician and his wife retired and
relocated, they donated the entire property to SCI—after a lengthy
search for just the right inheritor.
To help with the search, the
Rondeaus enlisted Cree Bradley and Jamie Juenemann of Two Harbors, and
Okey Ukaga of Northeastern Minnesota Sustainable Development
“We looked at all kinds of organizations that were
good options, but the Rondeaus weren’t quite satisfied,” Bradley said
this week, standing in the warmth of the greenhouse as rain spattered
the glass roof. “In the meantime, they got to know us, and asked if
we’d be willing to accept the property.”
That’s when SCI, a 501C3
non-profit organization, was born. All of the property except the four
acres surrounding the infrastructure will remain undeveloped and is
governed by a conservation easement with the Minnesota Land Trust.
and her husband Jason, as well as Juenemann, have their own homes. The
home at the institute, with an unassuming facade and lodge-like
structure on the inside, hosts two interns who caretake the
property–Katy Larson and Michael Furo, both of Duluth. In exchange for
this idyllic place to live, they help in the greenhouse, and
occasionally get plugged into work opportunities through SCI.
goals of SCI are several, all created with an eye toward doing today
what will also be good for the people of future generations:
? To apply concepts of market-driven products and servics as models for sustainable domestic and international development.
? To provide individuals and communities with consultation in sustainable and related areas.
? To assist with planning, development monitoring and evaluation of sustainability-related projects.
? To identify and promote emerging sustainable development technology.
? To develop education programs and provide training to individuals about sustainable living.
accomplish these goals, SCI has three main components: sustainable
agriculture, renewable energy and community planning. This first
article will deal with the first compoment, Chelsea Morning Farm.
is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) collaborative consisting of
multiple farm partners in the Lake Superior Region. It’s also where
Bradley and her husband live.
Members of the farm, who pay a
yearly fee, receive a weekly share of chemical-free vegetables, fruits
and berries delivered for a 15-week summer and fall season. They also
receive the weekly Chelsea Morning Thymes, a newsletter distributed
with each share with farm-related educational and celebratory events
for shareholders and the wider community.
Some of those newsletters come straight from the hearts of the Bradleys. Here is a sample from one of them:
poems have come to us in so long. It seems that when we began the
journey to farm (even back in the planning stages), or writing stopped.
We often wonder why and think, is it because we are building a
farm…laying fence not words. Moving mud, not emotion.
the farm, never the poems. A lifestyle so inspiring that when we are
old, we imagine we will sit…that is the first part, and write, that
is the second part.
“Perhaps it is our age; we’re in our late
twenties and there is so much work to be done. Build a fence, cultivate
the field, sweep the floors, create a home…”
Bradley said that
some berries and other products that are not grown at the farm are
obtained from regional producers. Besides shares in the produce,
members have been able to buy shares in honey, herring, maple syrup and
An important component of the farm, besides growing
fruits and vegetables, is helping members and others raise their own
produce in a chemical free way. Thus, Chelsea Morning Farm both teaches
and models sustainable growing practices.
One fun activity of the
farm is the annual Silver Creek Heirlooms sale, offering heirloom
vegetable and herb starts and seed-saving tips. This year, it will be
held Saturday, May 24, 10 a.m. To 4 p.m. at the institute on Grimmer
Backyard and container garden vegetable and herb
transplants will be available—all heirloom varieties that are descended
from old stock. Many of them have been field tested for northern
climates at Chelsea Morning Farm.
Included with the seeds and starts will be free resources and seed-saving tips.
said that the heirloom plant project was first begun as a program run
by two of SCI’s earlier interns. After they left, CSI decided to
continue the program from something that earned revenue for the program
coordinators, to something that earned revenue for the organization
The plants are started in the four-season greenhouse on
CSI property. All seeds, soil and other supplies are donated by Chelsea
Morning Farm and the work is run through the volunteer efforts of the
Bradleys, Larson and Furo.
For more information, contact Larson or Furo at (218) 834-4746.