Registration NOW OPEN for 2016 SFA Annual Conference, Midwest Soil Health Summit

Registration is now open for SFA’s 2016 winter conferences – get the following dates on your calendar and register NOW for the best prices.

Click here to register for the SFA Annual Conference, set for Feb. 13 at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn. Until Nov. 1, early bird registration is just $35 for SFA members and $45 for nonmembers. You may also register children 3-12 for the Budding Farmers program and for the SFA Leaders Breakfast.

Click here to register for the SFA Midwest Soil Health Summit, set for Feb. 17-18 at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, Minn. The MSHS features soil health experts and farm leaders for two days of education and farmer networking – all geared at improving the health of your soil. Early Bird pricing is $125 for SFA members and $175 for nonmembers until Nov. 1.

Sponsor & Exhibitor registration is open for both conferences on their respective homepage linked above. And remember that SFA Business/Organization members earn significant discounts on sponsorships and exhibitor space at our conferences. To learn more about SFA Business/Organization memberships, click here.

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.

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.n1438561422m-afs1438561422@ssel1438561422tfird1438561422 or 612.716.1706.