It started as a passion to grow dahlias, food and take care of animals, but Long Lake’s Two Pony Gardens Owner Lisa Ringer and her team has continued to grow and improve events on her property.
Two Pony Gardens’ annual open house took place on Saturday, Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guests were able to roam all aspects of the farm, taste their pizza, shop the farm and get to know the onsite floral and design business, Ladyfern.
“Today we’re doing margarita [pizza] from the tomato and basil grown here, and classic cheese for the kids, but who doesn’t love cheese,” Director of Education and Events Katherine Price said as she kneaded pizza dough covered in flour.
Price has worked at Two Pony for five years and has taken on many responsibilities, including planning their popular pizza events and their educational day camps for children. This year was the first year the farm offered four full weeks of day camps.
During the camps, children participate in activities that coordinate with the theme of the day. According to Price, Monday is farm day, Tuesday is bug day, Wednesday is woods day, Thursday is pony and goat day and Friday is parent pizza party day.
“They do farm chores every morning and then we have activities based around the theme. On Tuesdays, Pollinate Minnesota comes out and brings tiny bee suits. We suit up the kids and we go visit the bees in the pasture. [The children] get to take out the frames and hold them. They’re really brave,” she said.
The already popular all-you-can-eat pizza events continue to grow. Described as a picnic to connect “with the land, the community and the people you are attending with,” this make-it-your-own event provides the pizza made with grown on-site ingredients and you provide the rest. Participants are encouraged to bring their own plates, napkins, side dishes, beverages, bug spray and to be prepared for the changing Minnesota weather.
Each pizza night or brunch includes a theme that comes with it’s own special features. There are currently four upcoming pizza events: Walk in the woods on Oct. 12 and Oct 13; and Enjoy Halloween and horses themed events on Oct. 26 and Oct. 27.
The farm also continues to grow dahlias every season. Ringer digs up the flowers every winter and stores them in a temperature controlled storage room.
“Lisa’s been cultivating the dahlias for about 30 years and they’re a lot of work,” Price said. “It’s a constant temperature game in the house during the year. We have to check the temperature in the storage room every day.”
Price adds it was more of a hobby for Ringer and then it grew to something more formal and organized. Two Pony Gardens works in collaboration with Ladyfern, a small flower farm and design business that uses land located on Two Pony Gardens and sells their dahlias.
Summer Badawi and Sanna Beek joined forces after Badawi started the business alone four years ago. Beek joined when the business was a year old and together they grew their business, which offers full-service for weddings, bulk flower sales, floral designs and arrangements straight from their farm.
“We’re able to use fresh seasonal interesting product...There’s a fresh range locally grown right here on our farm,” Badawi said.
Badawi interested Beek in local flowers while she was following the slow flower movement while learning about local flower design and also while working with horticulture and vegetable farming at a non-profit.
“It was the first season that I was doing on my own and I approached Lisa if I could farm on her land...I found that running two businesses was kind of challenging and I like collaboration so I connected with Sanna,” she said.
Ladyfern has continued to collaborate with Two Pony Gardens over the years.
“I think what’s unique about the Two Pony and Ladyfern model is the ability to have a space where different groups and business can operate simultaneously in one space,” Badawi added.
Looking ahead, Two Pony have begun the process of building a barn next year. According to Price, they’re looking to move operations out of Ringer’s on-site house as much as possible. The barn will be built by all women and will serve as a space for day camps and a place for Ringer’s horses.
“We feel like that’s the one thing we’re missing. We’re a fully functioning farm and we don’t have a barn,” Price said.
To view event information visit twoponygardens.com