From ‘big city’ gardening to farming on the prairie

Huron Farmers’ Market returns Saturday

CARPENTER — Just outside of Carpenter, you’ll find Little City Farms, a small scale organic farm, operated by Stacy and Mace Roberts, who have been selling their produce at the Huron Farmers Market since August of 2016.   
Stacy and her husband, two city kids from Seattle, made the trek to their little farm located seven miles from Carpenter in 2014. Roberts is no stranger to the community since her grandmother, Carmen Lein (Opshal) was born and raised there before moving to Seattle in 1940. She would make many summer trips back “home” with her daughter and granddaughter in tow. When Stacy’s great uncle passed away in 2008, he left his farm to his six remaining siblings, which is how the Robertses ended up owning a small portion of it.
Funny thing is, over the couples twenty years of living in Seattle, unbeknownst to them, a new interest had developed. After purchasing a small house in the city on a very big lot, they decided to transform their large yard into their very own mini-farm in the city, complete with a huge vegetable garden and chickens for eggs. With extensive reading and a lot help from experienced family and friends, over the years, their gardening skills grew to the point where they were asked to give “garden tours,” and their “Little City Farm” became a destination for people’s daily walks.   
An unexpected event in March of 2014, left the Robertses facing new changes and challenges, mainly jobs. Now was the perfect time to make what would be a life altering choice; new jobs and stay in Seattle, or pick a new dream, the old farm in South Dakota.
With that being said, this will be the Robertses third year in their new gardens in Carpenter, with a total of three gardens ready for this years planting. Using cold frames (mini green houses) made out of old windows and lumber they salvaged from dilapidated farm buildings, they have started varieties of vegetables that need a longer growing season, like tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cabbage.    
Last summer, realizing they were going to have 200 extra pounds of cucumber and many extra bushels of tomatoes, not to mention the extra beans and melons, they knew it was time to join Huron Farmers Market. With the blessing of success comes the need for help. The Robertses now have three generations living and working on the farm. Stacy’s mother helps with the day-to-day things when she is not working in town. To supplement their income, the couple delivers mail part-time on the Carpenter route. Even Roberts’ cousin from Seattle, moved here to help on the farm and works at the Carpenter store on Saturdays.  
Right now, Little City Farms is focused on their garden for the market, but they are also in the process of raising heirloom pastured pork, and free range chickens for eggs and meat. Although these items are not currently available for sale, their goal is to eventually bring these to market.



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