SFA Returns to Mill City Farmers Market on June 6

Mary Jane Miller

Mary Jane Miller

SFA is making our yearly trip to the beautiful and bountiful Mill City Farmers Market, and this year we’re bringing ketchup.

2015.6.2 Crow River KetchupOn June 6 – this Saturday – SFA will be the featured guest at Mill City and along with Mary Jane Miller’s cooking expertise  and our usual booth of goodies and conversation we’ll be making the Minneapolis debut of Crow River Ketchup (right with spokesmodel Dan Zetah). Bottles will be available for purchase, Crow River farmers will be on hand, and Mary Jane will be cooking creative recipes that include the ketchup or go well with it.

We’ll have SFA t-shirts for sale as well – including the return of our “Back End of a Cow” shirts that sold out during our winter conferences.

The vibrant Mill City Farmers Market is held from 8 a.m.1 p.m. Saturdays in the courtyard of the Mill City Museum overlooking the Mississippi River and Stone Arch Bridge, and is next door to the architectural marvel that is Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater. The Market was founded by chef and restaurateur Brenda Langton and is next door to her popular farm-to-table restaurant, Spoonriver. SFA has been a regular at Mill City for many years, and we’re thankful to the Market for all its support.

If you can’t make the market but are hankering for Crow River Ketchup, it will soon be available for sale at all three Lakewinds Co-op locations. 

From the Executive Director: Thankful for Everyday Greatness

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko • SFA Executive Director

Our family recently returned from an all-too-rare family vacation, where we took in both Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. With the exception of running (yes, we all made it) up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, à la Rocky Balboa circa 1976, we spent the majority of our time steeped in U.S. history.

One cannot travel the path we did and not be struck with the amazing stories of the men and women who founded our country. Diverse, brilliant, flawed, aristocratic, humble, proud. The personalities are as far-ranging as their accomplishments. At monument after memorial after museum, we were confronted by a nation’s gratefulness, tribute and honor to its leaders, risk-takers, hard-workers and outspoken citizens. There are so many examples of people who set forth a country and a citizenship that has, despite many ups and downs, done much good in the world.

A walk through a museum is one thing, a week of history 24/7 is quite another. I have many takeaways from the trip, but one theme that has been solidly on my mind is the notion of the individual, everyday person in our land. Taken as a steady stream, the memorials to famous founders and leaders in our country is overwhelming. However, the number of great people who are recognized by the National Parks Service or the Smithsonian Institution is just a tiny fraction of the great people who have contributed to our nation and will contribute to it in the future.

I enjoy very much learning about greatness. After being surrounded by so much, I was left with the sense that each of us has a chance in our lives, and in fact every day, to do great things and live great lives. We cannot all get recognized for greatness. And some people might be “over-recognized.” However, our potential, dare I say our duty, to be great is no less.

So for those of you who are toiling daily to make a difference, to grow healthy food, to teach someone else to grow healthy food, to teach someone how to eat better, to make food available from your farm, your co-op, your buyers club, thank you. For everyone who contributes time, energy, brain power, money, prayers, blood, sweat, tears and their whole heart to the cause of making people better, healthier, kinder, smarter, more peaceful, thank you.

You might not be memorialized by a statue or in a museum. But you are engaged in a great work, and I’m proud to be numbered among you.

Next SFA Deep Winter Greenhouse Class Announced

Deep RootsRegistration is now open for our next Deep Roots Farmer Development Program short course on “Deep Winter Production of Greens and Livestock Fodder Utilizing Passive Solar Energy,” set for Nov. 7, 2015, at Paradox Farm north of Ashby, Minn.

During the class, Paradox Farm owners Sue Wika and Tom Prieve will provide a detailed overview of the construction and operation of their deep-winter greenhouse, which utilizes passive solar energy with underground heat storage. The greenhouse provides greens for local consumers. In addition, the structure is utilized to produce fodder for the farm livestock.

Students will be in the greenhouse to see how greens and fodder are planted and harvested. This is a hands-on workshop. Students should be prepared to get their hands in the soil.

Registrants: Don’t forget to bring a sack lunch. Cost is $100. Farm Skills 101 graduates may register for $30.

Click here to register.

Paradox Farm is at 11643 State Hwy 78, Ashby, MN 56309 (Directions: 7 miles north of Ashby; 10 miles south of Battle Lake). For more information, contact gro.n1436181650m-afs1436181650@eus1436181650.

Crow River Chapter Again Plants Governor’s Garden

2015.6.2 Crow River at Gov's Garden

Connie Carlson (from left), Mike Lilja, Cathy Rose and Mary Jane Miller work at the Governor’s garden in St. Paul. Photo by Mary Sue Stevens. 

For the fourth year in a row, the Crow River Chapter has planted a vegetable and herb garden at the Governor’s residence in St. Paul. Led by Mary Jane Miller and supported by the Crow River SFA board and volunteers, this year’s garden features many plants and seeds from Minnesota farms, including a new variety of non-GMO organic sweet corn called “Who Gets Kissed?”

Miller and her crew assembled on an unusually chilly May morning and filled two plots and several larger planters that now contain everything from tomatoes, eggplants and peppers to basil, zucchini, onions and Governor Dayton’s favorite, green beans, all of which will be used in meals at the residence.

Tours of the vegetable garden spaces take place from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on select Tuesdays all summer and will be led by Mary Jane Miller and her crew. Make plans to stop in this summer!

Tour Dates: June 9, 23; July 14, 28; Aug. 4, 18. Governor’s Residence is at 1006 Summit Hill, St. Paul.

New SFA Chapter Forming in Driftless Area

SFA is all about grassroots organizing and responding to the needs of local communities. There’s been a groundswell of interest in the Driftless Area of Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin in starting a new SFA chapter that focuses on the issues of this unique environmental region and its farmers.

A Chapter Organizing Committee has formed, and they will soon schedule a meeting to work on the process of officially forming a chapter.

If you would like to be involved in this at the ground level, please contact: Devon Ballinger at gro.n1436181650m-afs1436181650@ssel1436181650tfird1436181650 or 612.716.1706.

Western Chapter Dinner, Tour & Bonfire June 6

Western for Web Use JPG

SFA Western Chapter will host an open get-together at 5 p.m.Sat., June 6, at Prairie Horizons Farm, 31008 State Hwy 29, north of Benson. The event is free and all are welcome to attend for an evening of food, farms, fire, and friends!

Dinner will be a potluck meal; please bring a dish to share. After dinner will be a farm tour by hayrack ride including comments from Dr. Margaret Kuchenruether and Dr. Sharon Weyers, who have conducted research at Prairie Horizons Farm since 2008.

After mixing it up with food and research, it will be time to kick back for a musical jam and bonfire, with thirsts quenched by whatever beverages you have stocked in your cooler in anticipation of this joyous gathering. Bring your instrument and voice to join the jam.

Camping is available on site by permission: RSVP to ten.t1436181650enich1436181650@gnim1436181650rafel1436181650bania1436181650tsus1436181650 for information.

For more information, contact Ariel Herrod & Mike Jorgenson, Western Chapter Co-Chairs, at gro.n1436181650m-afs1436181650@nret1436181650sew1436181650; call Ariel at 410-660-0184; or visit www.sfa-mn.org/western.

Minneapolis Chef Paul Berglund Elected to SFA Board of Directors

Paul Berglund

Paul Berglund

Chef Paul Berglund, a 2015 James Beard Award finalist who helms the kitchen at Minneapolis’ acclaimed The Bachelor Farmer restaurant, was elected to the SFA Board of Directors at its most recent meeting on April 24, 2015, in Little Falls.

Berglund, who was elected to an at-large position, is committed to sourcing local ingredients for The Bachelor Farmer and even tends a rooftop garden atop the restaurant building. As an urban restaurateur, Berglund gives the SFA board a vital perspective on ways SFA farmers can more profitably communicate with and market to the chef-driven restaurant world.

Berglund has also attended the SFA Annual Conference the past two years and has completed a Deep Roots course on deep winter greenhouse production at Dr. Sue Wika’s Paradox Farm.

“Serving on the SFA board fulfills my personal values of citizenship and land stewardship,” Berglund said. “I believe that we are at a pivotal moment in environmental history. By participating in SFA, I can directly support those on the front lines of preserving our environment – thoughtful and conscientious farmers.”

Paul’s restaurant, which focuses on Scandinavian cuisine, received a four-star review from the Star Tribune in 2011 and is one of the Twin Cities’ most revered and popular establishments. The Bachelor Farmer is located at 50 N 2nd Ave in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood.

“We are excited to have Paul on our board,” SFA Executive Director John Mesko said. “His understanding of the connection between agriculture, food and people is going to broaden our work directly. It’s an important perspective for us as an organization.”

For more information, visit our SFA Board homepage.

SFA Deep Roots Graduate Making Positive Impact with Native Seed Initiative

By Jason Walker • SFA Communications & Membership Coordinator

Zachary Paige, a recent graduate of SFA’s Deep Roots Farmer Development Program, is proof that Deep Roots is training the next generation of farmers and community leaders.

Zachary Paige, a recent graduate of SFA’s Deep Roots Farmer Development Program, is proof that Deep Roots is training the next generation of farmers and community leaders.

It didn’t take long for Zachary Paige to become a positive force in Minnesota’s Native American community, helping to devise a project that culminated late last year in a significant grant to create an indigenous seed keeping network.

As a recent graduate of SFA’s Deep Roots Farmer Development Program, Paige, 30, is also proof that Deep Roots is training the next generation of farmers and community leaders. Paige, of Ponsford, Minn, took the program then known as Sustainable Food Production in 2012-13, and said he gained a holistic vision of sustainable food systems by looking at the issue from many different angles.

“I had no experience farming until after graduating college,” he said. “I taught music and worked on farms for two summers in the off-season teaching music. I had all sorts of questions brewing in my mind regarding plant cultivation, breeding and why many ‘sustainable’ farms didn’t save their seeds. I really thought that this was something important that would close the gap in the cyclical nature of sustainable food systems.”

While in the program, Paige gained real-world experience, extensive skills training, and the educational background needed to become a sustainable food producer. Further, Deep Roots’ commitment to community development and mentoring boosted Paige’s desire to develop a progressive project that would positively impact the indigenous community.

To continue reading about Zach, click here.

From the Executive Director: Organic Valley’s Grass Up!, Featuring SFA Speakers, is May 7

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko

There is still time to RSVP for what I think could be a watershed event in the sustainable agriculture movement: Organic Valley is teaming up with key organizations and experts in the field of sustainable agriculture to bring energy and focus about our future at a FREE event this Thursday called Grass Up!

Click here to learn more and RSVP.

An invitation-only event, which is set for 6 p.m. May 7 at Macalester College in St. Paul, Grass Up! helps people understand the connections between soil, pasture, climate change, seeds, nutrition, and pollinators. It will gather people with expertise in these areas and help us all understand the points where these six areas intersect.

SFA is a part of this event in several ways.

I’ll be one of two keynote speakers, offering a short overview of how these issues connect for farmers today and in the future. Also, Kent Solberg, SFA’s Livestock & Grazing Specialist, will join me at the discussion tables after the keynotes to network, learn and share. Kent will be an expert at the pasture discussion table, while I’ll be networking with others about agriculture’s response to climate change.

It’s basically a fantastic cocktail party, with great food, great learning, and an excellent opportunity to network, and I hope you’ll be able to make it. I’d love to see you there, and to let everyone know SFA’s Farmer-to-Farmer Network® organization is providing solutions for our future!

Space is limited. Click here to RSVP.