David Massey has been an organic gardener for 40 years, and loves to talk about soil chemistry. He explains that the health of the soil is very important to the plants he grows and their effect on the body. He also says that whenever he has moved from a place, he has left behind a plot of improved soil. Many things indicate soil type to David Massey: buildings, native plants, geology…he conducts soil testing and adds the low or missing constituents to help counteract a soil’s weak points.
David is 69 years old and a retired chemist for HB Fuller in the Twin Cities. He farms land in two different locations: three acres in White Bear Lake, and 640 acres near Pequot Lakes in Cass County. His business is called Northwoods Organic Produce. David grows heirloom vegetables in raised beds and a small greenhouse in White Bear Lake. His Cass County land consists of sustainable forest, upland pasture for hay and about 8 acres of intensively-farmed land surrounded by a 10-foot-high deer fence.
David grows 7 varieties of blueberries, 3 of strawberries, 2 types of raspberries, black raspberries, asparagus, 20 types of heirloom tomatoes, 20 types of organic potatoes, over 2,000 plants of 6 types of broccoli, several varieties of cabbage, herbs, beets, carrots, rutabagas and much more.
David Massey also saves heirloom seeds, especially saving several varieties of squash available nowhere else and a northern variety of corn. He participates in seed savers’ exchanges in Decorah, Iowa, and Toronto, Canada. .He has been developing markets for his food over time, and says he could sell more food than he can grow. His customers include 3 food co-ops, 10 restaurants and 2 grocery stores. He works hard all season and admits it’s a challenge for a 69-year-old man to farm using organic techniques like hand weeding and planting.