First and foremost, Tillford Rye Farm owner Jeremy Nelson will tell you he just loves growing plants.

But it’s bigger than that too.

“I also like the idea of coming to a place, doing what I can to leave it better than I found it,” he said.

That’s what Nelson is doing at his family farm near Garretson, where he takes a regenerative approach to his work.

“So that means we follow certain organic principles, things like keeping the soil covered, minimizing tillage, a large diversity of crops and rotations, lots of cover cropping to replenish the soil.”

His approach caught the attention of Sioux Falls-based Vanguard Hospitality, owners of G

“What he is doing with protecting the soil and his practices of regenerative agriculture allows us to provide produce that has a higher nutrient density and in turn is healthier for the people who dine at our restaurants,” Vanguard chief operating officer Tim Meagher said.

“I think having a key partnership like this stems from how you view the value of what you want to bring to your guests and the community.”rille 26, Minervas in downtown Sioux Falls and Morrie’s Steakhouse, who now partner with Tillford Rye to purchase produce for the restaurants.

The difference is powerful and clear immediately, he added. Guests will taste a textural difference and a greater intensity of flavor. Plus, for the restaurants, the produce has a longer shelf life.

For Tillford Rye, it’s a valuable relationship too, Nelson said.

“I think it’s absolutely essential to integrate local farms into the local food economy as much as possible,” he said.