Venis family earns the 2019 Land Stewardship Award

One of the greenhouses that the Venis’ utilize.

photos and story by Deja Anton

Todd Soil and Water Conservation District Manager

Amid a setting of rolling pastures, red barns, and brittle fields of corn, I find the farmstead of Tim and Caroline Venis—the hilltop home of Menagerie Greens in Eagle Bend.

Tim and Caroline Venis of Eagle Bend have created a beautiful home and gardens filled with greenhouses and bees. It all reflects their love for the land.

Rolling up the driveway, one notes various garden plots, greenhouse frames, and a smaller wood-framed greenhouse Tim constructed for Caroline specifically for her barrel-ponics experiments—aquaponics in a drum.

Caroline is inside the house preparing for her day as Greenhouse Coordinator for a local school district where she engages youth in hands-on, real life gardening and growing of their own foods. Tim greets me wearing a brimmed canvas hat.

He begins the visit by providing historic vision of the old homestead when he and Caroline first purchased the 40 acre property.

The house and outbuildings, neglected for years, were dilapidated at best. Messy and overgrown in landscape, Tim was not impressed with the prospect.

Being young with nothing but ambition in their pockets, the couple hesitantly opted to tackle the place head-on.

Aquaponics is one of the many ways that the Venis’ grow fresh foods all year around. They use fish—which they also raise—for the nutrient rich water for the plants to thrive in. Later, this water is reused after the plants clean it, for the fish again!

Today, in its quaint autumn splendor, it is hard to imagine the farmstead as it was when the Venis’ first purchased it.

Tim relays a brief lesson in “apicology” as we saunter to the larger greenhouse in the back yard. . . . .

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