By Liz Verley, Staff Writer
Christy Paulson, Fort Ripley, was recently awarded the Elmer Swenson Scholarship at the recent Cold Climate Conference banquet for the second year in a row
Paulson attends the Central Lakes College (CLC) and is enrolled in the Viticulture (grape growing) Enology (wine chemistry) Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA) program.
The Minnesota Grape Growers Association established the $1,000 scholarship to honor Swenson’s legacy as a citizen scientist and the father of cold climate viticulture.
Paulson and husband Matt, a CLC horticulture student have an organic farm near Fort Ripley. They have two children, Jennayea, 12, and Oliver, 4.
At their farm “Fruits, Nuts and Vegetables,” the Paulsons are in the process of clearing 2 1/2 acres for a future vineyard. When all the preparations have been completed, Paulson plans to plant King of the North (table grape), Marquette (red wine grape) and Frontenac Blanc (white wine grape).
Grapes are not the only thing planted by the Paulsons. They are in their fourth year of planting and raising an orchard, fruits and vegetables. Some of the produce is sold at area farmer markets, and they have a small membership Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group of family and friends.
The trees that are being cleared from the proposed vineyard site are being used as hosts to nurture various mushroom that are raised by the Paulsons. The orchard being developed around the property consists of 30 apple, pear and plum trees with and additional 98 to be added this spring. The new trees will include pear, apricot, more plums and black walnut.
“Right now the priority is to get the vineyard established. To do that we must get all the trees out by the end of April,” Matt said.
Matt, who is finishing his horticulture classes at CLC said, “We raise all the vegetables except corn. They are many other area producers of corn.
“All the seeds we use are certified heirloom, organic seeds and have no GMO,” said Matt.
Having dabbled in a variety of projects, Matt said, “I am the planner and Christy is the caretaker.”
At the present time, the Paulsons are assisted by friends and relatives in their ventures.
VESTA is a consortium of colleges in 19 states that offer online classes in the viticulture, Enology and wine business. Dennis Emslie Drummond is the Minnesota coordinator at CLC and is also the instructor for fruit wine production. He manages a vineyard with 32 varieties at the Staples Ag Center, plus an experimental winery and laboratory at the Staples campus.
“Christy is a full-time student and should be done the spring of 2015. She is a go-getter and has helped lead this complex program. She did her hands on practical part at Fort Ripley Vineyards operated by Greg and Joanne Thesing,” Drummond said.