Local cookbook author Beth Dooley visits Paula at the farm
Encore Farm grows heirloom varieties of edible dry beans, heirloom corn for cornmeal and other small grains. Though not certified-organic, Encore Farm uses organic and sustainable practices. Owner, Paula Foreman aims to use as little fossil fuel as possible; thus most work is done with modern hand tools. Paula lives in St. Paul and currently farms on leased land outside of Stillwater. Paula launched her operation at midlife and the farm’s name, Encore Farm, is a tribute to fresh starts and new endeavors at any age.
Prior to starting Encore Farm, Paula worked as a bread baker off and on for 12 years. Before that, she spent fifteen years working in a nonprofit, as a day care mother and a construction carpenter. Paula says that she always wanted to farm, though it took her some time to realize it. Always passionate about where our food comes from, she would visit vendors at farmer’s markets and think, “I want to be one of those people”. In 2007, she made that dream a reality.
Paula chose dry heirloom beans as her first crop, having read about the decline of food diversity brought on by increasingly standardized industrial farming. The dry beans are low in fat, gluten free, and rich in protein, antioxidants, fiber, and flavor. Paula’s carefully chosen heirloom breeds span a wide range of textures and history, from the creamy, rich October beans of the Tennessee Cherchei Nation to the soup-friendly Ireland Creek Annie from England and British Columbia. By keeping these cultivars alive, she helps to maintain the resilience and variety of the food system while preserving a rich culinary and cultural heritage. The characteristics and best uses of the bean varieties can be found on Encore Farm’s website–or just ask Paula in person!