By Michelle M. Sharp, Founder and Content Creator of Meet the Minnesota Makers

Honeydew Fields Farm, a regenerative flower farm in Sauk Centre, Minnesota thrives today thanks to a journey in infertility. 

Lead farmer Leah Bischof knew from a young age that she wanted to farm and that she wanted to be a mom. While she and her husband struggled with infertility, vegetable gardening became a refuge, a place to channel the frustration she felt while they hoped and waited.  

Wanting to improve her garden, she studied and read. Her research taught her about the need for diversity in her plantings. Adding in flowers would attract beneficial insects and pollinators that could increase her vegetable yield. Leah’s first step into establishing her future flower farm was a single pack of zinnia seeds.

Why zinnias?

“I heard that they were easy to grow. Could I have identified a zinnia prior to doing this research? Probably not,” laughed Leah. 

Those zinnias changed the way Leah planted and grew in her garden. “I fell in love with flowers because I saw them bring in beneficial insects and pollinators,” shared Leah. “I found so much beauty in the flower itself. It made me slow down and be intentional in a time when I longed for beauty, for contentment. I craved something beautiful in the midst of this ugly situation of infertility.” 

When her daughter, nicknamed Honeydew, was born, Leah’s dream of raising her kids on a farm came full circle. “Turning our space into a flower farm just made sense for us. I can teach her the beauty of that. I can have her be exposed to being outside, working with nature, working with the soil,” said Leah. “It also allows us to work around our lifestyle. I work off the farm. I’m a mom. I have this farm. It’s a nice balance with lots of ebbs and flows that make it work for us.”

This journey of fertility applies to the soil of Honeydew Fields as well. 

Leah works off farm for the Soil Health Academy. This international nonprofit teaches farmers and ranchers to successfully apply soil health-improving principles on their land in a practical way. The goal is to increase participation in regenerative agricultural practices.  

Before founding her own farm, Leah attended a class at a neighbor’s farm. That class that she attended out of curiosity changed Leah’s relationship with her land. While she views Honeydew Fields as a work in progress, following regenerative agricultural practices in flower farming dramatically changed her corner of the world. 

What does this mean on a daily level for Honeydew Fields? 

*No synthetic fertilizers or chemical insecticides. 

*No till in order to disturb soil life as little as possible. Leah practices solarization with repurposed silage tarp from her parents’ dairy farm. After solarization she will plant cover crops and/or top with high quality compost to create new growing spaces. During the season she will weed whip, handpick weeds, and plant densely to reduce weed pressure.  

*Mulching to make sure soil microorganisms are happy and well fed. Mulch also retains moisture in the soil. 

*Using compost and organic hay to feed the soil. Planting cover crops over the winter. Open soil loses moisture and nutrients.  

*Inviting feathered friends, the farms’ chickens and ducks, to frolic in the flowers where they perform pest control as they fertilize the plants. 

*Planting trees and shrubs for wildlife habitat to encourage birds and other insect predators to visit the farm. 

*Incorporating native plants among her cut flowers. Conducting her own research into which Minnesota native flowers can be successful as cut flowers.

*Normalizing seasonality. Certain varieties of flowers are only available at certain times of year. 

*Establishing her plantings as a mixed cottage garden instead of rows of singular varieties. 

Following these practices, Leah has seen her weed pressure subside. Her soil is not as compacted as it used to be. When she inspects a shovelful, it has the texture of a rich chocolate cake crumb. The insects she finds are the fun ones—more bees, butterflies and caterpillars—with very little pressure from the notoriously voracious Japanese beetle.

“When I’m faced with a challenge with my flowers I ask how Mother Nature would handle it. This is literally how I farm,” explained Leah. “We need to change our mindset about the virtue of the perfect green lawn. Mother Nature doesn’t aggressively pursue monoculture. The way we treat our lawns, the way we farm on a large scale—it’s not sustainable.” 

Farming with her daughter, the family Honeydew, brings Leah so much joy. Now a toddler, Honeydew is in the thick of things—planting, weeding, watering, and delivering flowers for the farm’s Fresh from the Field CSA program. 

This bouquet subscription is available as both a four and eight week subscription with multiple pick up sites in St. Cloud and Sauk Centre. Honeydew Fields also offers flowers for events and direct to florists and floral designers. 

Not a subscriber? Stop by the Honeydew Fields farmstand to pick up a bouquet or order a custom arrangement for your special event. Leah adores creating bouquets that carry the same romantic cottage garden feel as her flower farm itself.  

“I love getting to see how flowers bring smiles and joy to others, just like they did to me in a time where I really needed their beauty,” reflected Leah. “I find so much joy in getting the opportunity to farm side-by-side with my daughter, enjoying nature and working towards growing a strong ecosystem, all while growing flowers for other families, and events in our community.”

Visit to learn more about Honeydew Fields’s regenerative agricultural practices. 

Follow @honeydewfieldsmn on Facebook and Instagram to see how Leah and her Honeydew are working with Mother Nature today. 

This feature is sponsored by the Forever Green Initiative at the University of Minnesota. Honeydew Fields is one of several innovators in sustainability that Meet the Minnesota Makers and Forever Green celebrate in this maker series. 

Forever Green develops and improves winter-hardy annual and perennial crops that protect soil and water health. These initiatives provide new economic opportunities for growers, industry and communities across Minnesota. Learn more about Forever Green and their community partners on their website

Visit or follow @meettheminnesotamakers on Facebook and Instagram to discover the farmers and innovators working to strengthen Minnesota’s local food networks. Meet the Minnesota Makers is a news site that connects you to the local food, farms, artists and artisans that make Minnesota thrive.




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