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Five Sustainable/Organic/Natural Farms and Ranches to Add Flavor to Your Meals in South Dakota

1. Bear Butte Gardens. Located just northeast of Sturgis, in the Black Hills of western South Dakota, this 120-acre, small-scale garden and greenhouse family-owned business was established in 2010 and became organic certified in 2012. Their philosophy is one of healthy vegetables and meats, produced sustainably; they support reducing energy consumption and working toward renewable energy sources, as well as being responsible steward of the Earth. The farm grows and offers for sale a wide variety of organic vegetables (including beans, squashes, corn, cabbage, peas, tomatoes, and much more), honey, organic lamb meat, organic broiler chicken, organic turkey, and organic eggs. Learn more: Bear Butte Gardens.

2. Cycle Farm. Located in Spearfish Valley, in the Black Hills of western South Dakota, this 3-acre family farm grows organic, heirloom, and open-pollinated fruits and vegetables from seed, including asparagus, beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, garlic, grapes, greens, kale, onions, peas, radishes, raspberries, spinach, squash, strawberries, tomatoes, and more. They also sometimes have pastured chicken broilers for sale, and have recently started an orchard with heritage varieties of apple, plum, apricot, and tart cherries. All their produce is chemical-free and grown naturally, with no-till, full-circle, sustainable farm practices. The name of the farm comes from their passion for bicycles -- including their use as efficient farm tools -- using human-power and reducing machine-power. Learn more at: Cycle Fam.

3. Johnson Farms. Located just south of Madison, in eastern South Dakota, this 2,800-acre organic farm raises organic crops and Black Angus Gelbvieh cattle. For more than 40 years and multiple generations of Johnsons, their process begins with a 5-year crop rotation that includes two years of hay, one each of soybeans, corn, again with soybeans, and then oats planted with alfalfa. The farm is certified by the International Certification Service. The farm is run by Charlie Johnson, along with his brother Allan, and cousin, Aaron; the brothers learned the process of chemical-free farming from their late father, Bernard.

4. Hoversten Orchards. A u-pick apple orchard located in Brandon, South Dakota, five miles east of Sioux Falls, in the southeastern part of the state. Visitors will find 5,000 trees on 25 acres of land, including 22 varieties of apples (though the vast majority are Honey Crips). Bring the whole family, starting in late summer with early varieties, with fall the biggest harvest. If you have never had fresh apples, you are in for a treat as the ones you buy in the store can be up to a year old. The apples here are not sprayed -- and safe to eat right from the tree. Other times for sale include cider, honey, preserves, squashes, and melons. Learn more: Hoversten Orchards.

5. Dakota Harvest Farm. Located in Jefferson, in southeastern South Dakota, this 160-acre farm raises grass-fed Dorper lambs/sheep and Dexter cattle. The animals spend their lives pasturing in chemical-free fields, and fed alfalfa hay (grown on the farm) in the winter months, producing lean, healthy, and nutrient-dense meat. The animals are never fed hormones nor given antibiotics and ware USDA approved and certified by the American Grassfed Association, as well as Animal Welfare approved. Specialty items include lamb filet mignon, lamb summer sausage, and smoked leg of lamb. Other products include rack of lamb, ground lamb, lamb bacon, lamb chops, and lamb brats. Learn more: Dakota Harvest Farm.

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