Going Green in Cook County

Family farms a growing branch of North Shore’s green initiatives

Even by Cook County standards, Nick and Kristin Wharton, along with their three children, live in a remote setting in Cook County. It’s here on this remote homestead that the family runs the local business known as the Good Nature Farm.

There are not many farms operating in Cook County. A lack of quality soil and remarkably long winters make it a challenge to grow crops, particularly when it comes to a scale that involves selling to the goods to consumers.

The Good Nature Farm operates under the consumer-supported agriculture model, known commonly as a CSA. This business structure includes “market shares” where customers pay a fee up front and then collect an allotted amount of fresh produce from the farm each week. Nick says the CSA model works great for his operation.

While things like electric vehicles, solar panels on roofs and eliminating use of plastics often grab headlines, producing and eating locally-grown food is an important green initiative on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Whitney Place is an assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Place grew up on her family’s farm in rural Minnesota, and says a business like the Wharton’s Good Nature Farm is a valuable resource on the North Shore for many reasons.

In this installment of the ‘Going Green in Cook County’ series, we learn more about the role of family farms in Minnesota and where they fit into discussions on everything from climate change to a sense of community.