Skip to main content

Community rallies to support vegetable farmers after devastating fire

They're already rebuilding after a fire torched their only greenhouse.

Vegetable farmers in southeast Minnesota are hurrying to rebuild their only greenhouse after a fire destroyed it before the sun came up Monday, March 11. 

Heartbeet Farm in Zumbro Falls, a staple provider at the Rochester Farmer's Market, was severely damaged by a fire that was caused by sparks from a wood stove. The fire torched their only greenhouse, destroying more than 65,000 onion and shallot seeds they planted in preparation for the growing season. 

"This loss is a massive setback for us as it was a key piece of our infrastructure as a working farm and it is extremely timely that it be re-built asap as it is seed starting time," Heartbeet Farms co-owner Rebecca Wright Schwen wrote in an online fundraiser

"Unforeseen accidents are never part of a small farm’s financial plan for the year. This setback comes at a time of year when farm income is at it's lowest and equals a major loss of time as we try to get rolling for the season."

The charred remains inside the greenhouse. 

The charred remains inside the greenhouse. 

Fortunately, the community has stepped up in a big way, donating more than $17,000 to a GoFundMe for Heartbeet Farm, which is more than double the $8,000 the family farmers were hoping to raise in order to rebuild and get back on their feet as fast as possible. 

The donations will help them replace a laundry list of needs, including a new furnace/boiler, north wall of the greenhouse, electrical needs, thermostats, fans, heat mats, germination, plant trays, potting soil, hoses and replacement seeds for the thousands that were destroyed. 

Doubling the fundraising goal is beyond the farmers' wildest expectations, noting that "our jaws dropped to the floor." 

Amazingly, just three full days after the fire, despite many small jobs and debris cleanup yet to do, they've already replaced the plastic covering, a wood boiler is set up outside the greenhouse and replacement seeds have been ordered. 

"We will recover from this minor catastrophe and we feel stronger than ever with the vocal support of our community surrounding us," Wright Schwen wrote in an update Wednesday. 

Next Up


Boy found dead in trunk of car in Mound was kindergartner

"It is horrifying and difficult to process a tragedy of this magnitude, especially in our close-knit community," the superintendent wrote.

Minneapolis police

Man found yelling for help after being shot in Minneapolis

The shooting occurred on the 800 block of Elwood Avenue North at around 9:15 p.m.

Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 9.56.21 AM

Minneapolis North principal says she was fired, district says otherwise

“MPS requires schools to follow protocols in times like that and I did not,” Friestleben said.

Kris Richard Severin

Inmate who escaped Minnesota prison is captured

The inmate escaped Wednesday morning.

Brave New Comedy Workshop in downtown Minneapolis.

Brave New Workshop cancels shows due to COVID-19 cases

The shows were scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre.

Austin Retterath

Body of missing U of M student found in Mississippi River

Austin Retterath was last seen alive in the morning hours of May 8.

"Love" mural seen in St. Paul.

Summer mural events to bring together community, shine light on MN artists

The 2022 Chroma Zone Mural & Art Festival will take place this weekend in St. Paul's Creative Enterprise Zone, with ensuing events happening this summer.


Gallery: Remodeled lakeside home in Prior Lake on market for $2.8M

It offers privacy at the end of a dead-end road fronting onto Lower Prior Lake.

golden valley police department

Carjacking outside ice arena in Golden Valley under investigation

Golden Valley PD confirmed it received a report of a carjacking Monday evening.


Signs that MN Legislature could move to loosen liquor laws

A provision was approved by a legislature committee on Thursday but still awaits a final decision from the House and Senate.

US Bank Stadium

U.S. Bank Stadium looking to hire 400 part-time workers

A hiring fair will be held for the positions.


Community rallies to save organic farm's cows from blaze

The blaze is a huge loss for Crystal Ball Farms.

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 9.55.23 AM

Viral video: After farmer's death, local growers rally to combine his fields

A video showing the farmers at work has been viewed millions of times.

Students rally behind owner who lost store in arson fire

Seniors from Washburn High School in Minneapolis are helping the owner.

Ronnie Guy

Fundraiser set up for beloved community activist after house fire

Ronnie Guy, a local dad, found himself displaced this week.

Screen Shot 2021-01-20 at 7.29.02 AM

Community, restaurant rally to support Richfield family after house fire

The couple's home and garage caught fire on Dec. 28, 2020.

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 10.48.49 AM

Firefighters 'unknowingly at great risk' of 'very rapidly growing fire'

There was more than a thousand gallons of fuel in in the garage that caught fire.

Screen Shot 2019-11-18 at 9.11.13 AM

Cancer patient loses her two dogs, home in devastating fire

Jennifer Reinardy woke to her dogs panicking after fire broke out in her living room.

Fire weather watch issued for all of eastern MN on Sunday

Any fires that start could grow out of control rapidly.