ZUMBRO FALLS, Minn. ― An organic vegetable farm in southeast Minnesota faces a major setback after a fire broke out in its shed this week.
Easy Yoke Farm, a small-scale wholesale and farmers market operation specializing in organic vegetable production, is owned by Daniel and Hannah Miller. The couple is in their 10th growing season.
On the morning of May 23, the shed containing a washstand, coolers and where the couple packed vegetables burned to the ground.
"This building was our central station for washing, storing and preparing our produce to sell," Hannah Miller said.
The family lost its washtubs, a root washer, basic vegetable supplies, market tents, scales, ranger, vegetable seeder and freezer containing a year's supply of meat, said Miller. A greenhouse attached to the shed was also damaged.
Hannah Miller said the fire was started by a vehicle that was being charged by a faulty wire in the shed that night.
"We were charging it overnight as we've done tons of times in our building and a faulty wire heated up and ended up combusting the plastic hood," she said. "And then that just went straight to the roof of the shed."
She said she even though their windows were closed and they never smelled the fire, she awoke around 2:15 a.m. on the morning of the fire.
"I just thankfully woke up and saw it right away," she said. "It's hard to say how long it had been going, but once we saw how quick the fire took off, it seemed like I probably did see it pretty early, because it really spreads fast."
She said that her husband lost many of the tools in the fire that "represent seven years of his labor" to get the property up to the condition it was in.
The couple has insurance on the property but expects that it will not cover the entire cost of a rebuild.
Support from around the world to next door
A GoFundMe was set up shortly after the fire occurred, and within two days over $20,000 had already been raised.
"We're just completely overwhelmed by both the local support and people even from all over the world that are able to use the GoFundMe page," she said.
She said much of the farming community around them have also reached out to ask how they can help.
"It's just been really amazing to see that, and we just feel like we're not going through it alone, which is a really good feeling," she said.
The neighboring farm to the Millers is owned by Joe and Rebecca Schwen (Rebecca is Hannah's sister), and they are allowing the Millers to use their washstand and coolers so the family can continue to grow and sell this season.
"We both farm vegetables and they have a very similar setup that we can just plug right into," she said. "If we didn't have that it would be an even bigger disruption than it is."