In 1989, when the 5th-generation Diffley family land was developed into a school and suburban housing, the Diffleys collaborated with Helen DeMichiel to create the award-winning documentary film, Turn Here Sweet Corn. Filmed in 1988 and 1989 on the original Diffley land in Eagan and in the surrounding community, the film focuses on the loss of greenbelt farmlands to suburbia. More video essay than documentary, it interweaves the specific story of the Diffley family and the Gardens of Eagan Organic Farm with an evocative contemplation about the future of family farming in a new era of rural culture.
In 2006 land use issues arose again when the Diffleys received notice that the Gardens of Eagan was in the proposed corridor of the Koch Industries owned MinnCan pipeline. They formally intervened as parties in the route proceeding, permitting them to address the unique mitigation needs of organic farmers. In addition to legal intervention, the Diffleys mobilized an outreach campaign to consumers and other stakeholders. Over 4,500 public comments were received supporting protection of MN’s organic farms. As a result, Minnesota Pipeline Company agreed to implement what they believe is the first Organic Agriculture Mitigation Plan in the country applicable to pipeline infrastructure. This mitigation plan provides rights and protections for all affected organic farms in Minnesota and have since been applied to other MN. pipeline and power line projects. Since the implementation of the Minnesota Organic Mitigation Plan other jurisdictions in the U.S. have begun to require that agricultural impact mitigation plans provide protection to organic agriculture.
In 2008 the Diffleys sold the Gardens of Eagan name to the Wedge Community Co-op. The Wedge-operated Gardens of Eagan continues to provide organic produce to the local community. In addition to managing the farm, the Wedge Co-op has started the Organic Field School at Gardens of Eagan, a 501(c)3 educational nonprofit dedicated to transforming our food and farming systems by providing organic and ecologically based practical education.
About: Atina Diffley is an organic consultant, author, and public speaker. From 1985 through 2007, she and her husband Martin ran the Gardens of Eagan, an urban-edge, organic vegetable farm, which he started in 1973. Atina’s areas of expertise include post harvest handling, brand-name marketing, greenhouse management, and organic farming systems. She provides consulting and education through their business Organic Farming Works LLC. Atina is the author of the memoir Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works, published by the University of Minnesota Press. She is a contributing author of the FamilyFarmed.org training manual, Wholesale Success: A Farmers Guide to Selling, Postharvest Handling and Packing Produce. For reflections, tips and decision-making tools subscribe to Atina’s on-line blog, What Is A Farm, at atinadiffley.com.