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University of Minnesota Extension

Cook County Farm Family

Good Nature Farm

Good Nature Farm is an off-grid family farm located outside of Grand Marais. The farm began to take shape in 2003, when Nick Wharton and Kristin DeArruda started a family and a homestead, beginning with small family and market gardens and growing over time to include wholesale, market and a CSA. With a priority on ecological and organic agricultural principles, caring for the land, and feeding the local community, the farm has grown and changed over the years. 

When COVID-19 hit, the local market shut down and Nick and Kristin chose to expand their CSA to help get produce out to the community. After running the CSA at an increased capacity for two years and returning to market, they felt the need to regroup and reassess their balance of farm vs. the rest of life. It was a very tough decision, but in 2023, the couple stopped offering CSA shares to be able to prioritize family and health.

Currently, the operation produces mixed vegetables, garlic, potatoes and apples for sale at the local farmers market, Cook County Whole Foods Co-op, the school and a local restaurant.

Nick and Kristin are expanding the perennial fruit plantings and garlic. They use reduced tillage practices, cover crops and organic management practices throughout the farm, focusing on soil and ecosystem health. They raise chickens and turkeys for meat and eggs, some for sale, some for the family. They have one small tractor but do much of the work with hand tools. The farm is entirely off-grid with solar panels and a small wind generator producing electricity.

Nick is the primary farmer and does the planning and day-to-day work of the farm. Kristin is the farm’s co-owner, handles seasonal labor, and gives advice and planning input. Nick and Kristin’s oldest child, Henry, is out of the house but used to help with packing and delivery, and firewood. MJ, the middle child, helps with harvest, packing and market stand operation, and garden/homestead labor. Eli, the youngest child, helps with harvest, packing, and marketing, and provides garden/homestead labor.

Nick is a board member for the Northwoods Food Project, a local organization focusing on the local food system in Cook County. Nick and Kristin are members of the Lake Superior Farming Association. Kristin promotes healthy living initiatives as a health care provider at the local clinic and helped start the local farmers market. MJ is involved in a student-led environmental group and Eli endeavors to make as many things from found materials as possible.

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