HartBeet is a 70 acre farm in Eolia, MO run by Nicki Morgan and her family — four of these acres are in production and the rest of the land is used for foraging for fruits and mushrooms. Last week several of us at MCE drove up to meet Nicki, who was able to give us a great tour of the farm. Walking through their main field we saw a good chunk of what they produce — Hart Beet grows vegetables and fruits, and they also tap for maple sap which they turn into maple syrup. The sap comes from a total of over 100 maple trees on their property, but Nicki and her family rotate which trees they tap each year. This only happens in a specific tapping season, which can change in length depending on the weather (temperatures above freezing during the day and below freezing at night are best) and location — for example, Missouri’s season is shorter than the season in Canada, where most of our syrup comes from. HartBeet doesn’t use chemical pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers, so as we asked Nicki what they did instead to control insects in the field. She told us about buying bugs to place among the crops — good ones that get rid of the damaging insects in one way or another. We heard specifically about parasitic wasps, which lay their eggs in caterpillars that could otherwise ruin a plant. The caterpillar dies when the eggs hatch, so releasing the wasps among your crops controls the caterpillar population and works as an alternative to using conventional pesticides. Most of what HartBeet produces goes to their CSA, but if you’re looking to try out their produce or syrup you can also find them at Lake St. Louis Farmers and Artists Market.