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The Miracle of Finland: What a Tiny Northern Minnesota Town Can Teach America

When the lingering snow from northern Minnesota’s long winter finally recedes, David Abazs’s idyllic homestead in the woods becomes a never-ending to-do list.

There’s manure to pile and compost to spread. Seedlings must be transplanted from trays to pots before eventually making their way into the ground. Everything is on a schedule, and right now, that means “everywhere is digging,” according to Abazs. His days are filled with work, but at least the mosquitos aren’t out yet.

By summer’s end, his toil will produce an abundance rarely found in northern Minnesota. His soil teems with the ingredients for thriving crops—nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium—to such a degree Abazs claims his soil is three times more productive than southern Minnesota farms’. Unlike the farms of the state’s breadbasket, which typically grow a lot of just one thing, Abazs’s acreage yields a bounty fit for Suessian description: fields aflow with collard greens, pea pods, peppers, parsnips, beans, broccoli, and romaine; a pumpkin patch and an apple tree.

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