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.n1435998126m-afs1435998126@ssel1435998126tfird1435998126 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.t1435998126enich1435998126@gnim1435998126rafel1435998126bania1435998126tsus1435998126 for information.

For more information, contact Ariel Herrod & Mike Jorgenson, Western Chapter Co-Chairs, at gro.n1435998126m-afs1435998126@nret1435998126sew1435998126; call Ariel at 410-660-0184; or visit www.sfa-mn.org/western.

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.