A day on Singing Hills Dairy

Cultivating Land and Sharing
Knowledge in Rural Minnesota

Down what seems like almost a cliche long-and-winding gravel road usually seen in movies, lies a sprawling 25-acre farm about an hour outside of the Twin Cities in Nerstrand, Minnesota. The car tires bumped and shook as we turned past flat corn fields into what suddenly became a lush tree covered entrance up on a hill. As a city-girl who had spent the last eight months largely at home, I had plenty of time to spend on social media.
In the wake of a pandemic and recent civil/racial unrest in Minneapolis, I came across the profile of an initiative looking to create a community resource and teaching space for Black Minnesotans and emerging land stewards. Curious, I reached out to the organizer and asked if she’d be willing to have me follow her around for a socially-distanced day to find out more, and to spend a day in the life of an emerging Black farmer.

At the beginning of 2020 Lizy began writing a proposal to purchase this land from her aunt Lynne

Lynne is the sole proprietor, cheesemaker and farmer behind Singing Hills Dairy. Her plan involved transitioning into stewardship of the land while apprenticing her aunt; studying the ways of the farm’s operations and agricultural practices. 

 

Lizy Bryant, a Minnesota native who recently moved to Nerstrand, MN

 

It was finally starting to feel like autumn in Minnesota, with the leaves just on the cusp of changing into brighter hues.

Having been there for less than twenty minutes, it was striking how relaxed I already felt on the farm — given recent events and being on constant watch to distance myself from others during the pandemic. We walked along a 200 year old Oak savanna that lined parts of the property as we discussed Lizy’s vision for the future: an ecosystem of Black and emerging land stewards who serve their local communities.

Lizy is among those who see the impending mass retirement of farmers in the US as an exciting opportunity to equitably redistribute land so that Black people and people of color may more broadly enter into farming. She believes harnessing this opportunity will build resilient local food systems that address issues around food scarcity and racial hierarchy. And in a state known for agricultural distribution, less than 1% of the farmers identity as Black — something that Lizy wants to help change.

The goat barn at Singing Hills Dairy