Bear Butte Gardens climbing beans

Michelle Grosek poses with bean plants in front of Bear Butte in Sturgis, South Dakota.

We have had a very busy couple weeks at Bear Butte Gardens through mid July!

Our rainfall has been spotty at a monthly total of 2.45 inches so far, according to our weather station. The temps have been on the warmer side in the mid 80s to high 90s. We have also been noticing a very slight haze of smoke some days from distant forest fires. The nighttime skies have been very clear, making for excellent star gazing, comet watching and planet tracking.

We had a young guy named Max stay with us for about a week through the WWOOF USA program. WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms and the organization’s mission is “part of a worldwide effort to link visitors with organic farmers, promote an educational exchange, and build a global community conscious of ecological farming practices.” Individuals who sign up to be WWOOFers travel from farm-to-farm within the program to work for room and board and gain experience in various farming practices. We are not actually registered with the WWOOF program, but have benefitted from it a couple times over the past years when working participants needed a farm to work on for a few days in between farms they had already scheduled in this region.

This particular WWOOFer had recently received his degree in economics at a college in Chicago, but his new job start date was postponed until next January due to COVID. He decided he wanted to travel and see the country a bit, but also gain some work experiences, so signed up for the program. It was very good timing having him visit us, as we were preparing our new farm stand and commercial kitchen facility for a grand opening event and Max was able to do some much needed clearing out of finished vegetation in the high tunnel greenhouse while we prepped our new facility.

As stated, we had our big open house event this past weekend for The Farm Stand at Bear Butte Gardens and were very blessed with a great community turnout. We hope the enthusiasm stays high for local foods and handcrafted products and right now it appears it will. We cannot say enough about all of the other local producers who are willing to grow and sell their products to us so we have a nice selection for our new retail space!

Our melons, cucumbers, and squash are all growing nicely in the recent heat and spreading their vines. The squash are blooming and setting fruit. We had a little time to start tying tomatoes up to the trellises this past week and will hopefully finish that task this week as they are getting heavy with fruit.

The motorcycle rally is looming on the near horizon now and we are looking forward to having a commercial kitchen for serving some meals during that event. It will be interesting to see how COVID affects attendance of this 80th year of the rally.

Michelle and Rick Grosek operate Bear Butte Gardens in Meade County, S.D. They submitted their report July 27.