Posts Tagged ‘conferences’

goodfoodnetworkFriday & Saturday, March 8 & 9:  Good Food Transforming our Region Summit

About the keynote:

Dr. [David] Wallinga applies a systems lens to think about health impacts of food and how it is produced, processed, packaged and distributed in today’s global, industrialized food system.”

About the workshops:

Through the lens of food, workshops will include topics such as economic development and jobs, farmer and producer networking, food access, policy advocacy, healthy food, research and infrastructure, food hubs, and farm to school.”

CSA_OpenHouse03-14-13Thursday, March 14: FREE  CSA Open House

Stop by the Zeitgeist Arts Lobby between 5-7 pm to:

  • Meet local farmers (including ME!)
  • Learn about your share options
  • Choose the right CSA for your family

Friday, March 22:  Farmers Take the Stage

Everyone is welcome at this much-anticipated annual event. In addition to great music by great farmers, there will be a silent auction, stories, humor and more.”

This event is a benefit for the non-profit Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association.


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Yesterday was a great day to attend a conference — overcast with a few sprinkles — and I was able to attend the first part of the Farm to Cafeteria workshop in Cloquet. After the bustle of registration, the 85+ attendees settled in to the auditorium at the Cloquet Forestry Center and heard an introduction from our own LS-SFA’s Joel Rosen. Stephanie Heim took the mike next to give an overview of the Farm to School program, and as I listened to her lovely, soothing voice, I felt . . . tired. Sorry, Stephanie:  I really appreciate your work. I just needed a cup of tea.

It was good to be around other farmers and community members with a shared desire to bring good food to good people and help improve the farming economy in our area. The panel discussion was lively and informative, and it sounded like a delicious dinner featuring foods from local farms (yes, even in April in Northeast MN) was to be served after I left.

Speaking of schools, one of my favorite students, Tristan Pohl, is planning to help out at Stone’s Throw Farm this summer. Here’s a somewhat dated photo of Tristan (on the right) with her dad, Steve, and sister, Autumn. Tristan’s parents are splitting a share this year, and I hear she has quite a green thumb. I’ll be inviting other farm members and non-members to help out on harvest days (Mondays) this summer in exchange for veggies or reduced share prices. Stay tuned for more info on that opportunity.

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Let’s get those kids eating local spuds, folks!  Anyone interested in learning how to bring locally-grown food to cafeterias (of schools, hospitals, and nursing homes) is invited to attend a workshop on Thursday, April 29, 2010, from 2:00 – 7:30 pm at the Cloquet Forestry Center, 175 University Road. 

This includes:  “farmers, food service directors, schools, institutions, distributors, parents, school board members, administrators, teachers, wellness committees, rural and economic development specialists, Extension educators, Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) coordinators, non-governmental organizations, and other community experts.”

You must preregister for the workshop by April 26 (that’s Monday).

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It looks like it might rain on Saturday, which would be too bad for those of us hoping to work outside, but good for anyone who feels like attending a workshop indoors. Speaking of, UMD’s Sustainable Agriculture ProjectOffice of Sustainability, and Sociology & Anthropology Department are co-sponsoring what looks like a very interesting Permaculture for Everyone workshop this Saturday, March 27, by the Permaculture Research Institute.

permaculture: a word created by Australian ecologists Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, it is a contraction of “permanent agriculture” and usually refers to the inclusion of perennial agriculture (tree crops and food forests). Permaculture is a series of design strategies that can be applied to home gardens, large scale farms, metropolitan urban areas and the entire global economy.”       (source: Permatopia Dictionary)

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Another article in the Duluth News Tribune caught my eye this morning:  “Local interest in veggie gardening grows.” Ideally, everyone would grow their own veggies. Not everyone has the space, time, or energy to do that, which is one reason why CSA farms are here!

If you’re interested in gardening in any capacity (how about a few pots of herbs or some cherry tomatoes?), there’s a conference on growing your own fruits and vegetables this Saturday, March 20, at the Coppertop Church, 230 E Skyline. It costs $25 and you can preregister with St. Louis County Extension by calling 218-733-2870. Let me know how it goes!

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I really enjoyed the session on selling local food to institutional buyers at the Lake Superior Farming Conference last weekend. Rick Beckler, Director of Hospitality Services at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, WI, is a very good speaker, and his enthusiasm for local food was heartening. Co-presenter Pam Herdrich, RC&D Coordinator for River Country Resource Conservation and Development Council, was charming as well.

The two talked about the Producers and Buyers Cooperative of Western Wisconsin, which formed in 2008. It’s kind of like CSA, but on an institutional level. Sacred Heart was the first institution to sign on, and Rick had some pretty amusing stories about working out the kinks in the system. For example, the day the hospital staff were cooking the first local chickens, they called Rick down to the kitchen, saying there was a problem. They told him the chicken tasted excellent, but the pieces were too big to fit on the patient and cafeteria trays!

Rick applauded Sacred Heart CEO Steve Ronstrom’s committment to local food, which comes from the simple belief, “Local food is good medicine.” It makes sense, right — for a hospital to feed its patients the freshest, healthiest food available? Steve wrote a letter to the editor to that effect in July 0f 2008 and continues to be a driving force behind Sacred Heart’s committment to local food.

Institutions in the Twin Ports are getting on board, too. One example is Duluth’s St. Luke’s Hospital, which was recognized by the governor along with the Institute for a Sustainable Future for their Healthy Food in Healthcare Project.

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One of the more interesting sessions at the Lake Superior Farming Conference for me was the one called, “Locally Adapted Food System for the Western Lake Superior Region,” presented by Stacy Stark of UMD and David Abazs of Round River Farm. Back in November, David published an essay about the project in the Duluth News Tribune in conjunction with the Superior Grown Food Summit, which I missed, unfortunately. As David explained in the essay, the basic idea of the research is to determine,

Can we feed ourselves within this region? Do we have enough land to grow the food we need? What would a healthy local diet look like? What would a local food system mean for our economy, health, the environment and our western Lake Superior communities?”

Superior Food Web -- click to view more

As part of the project, a group of doctors, dieticians and nutritionists developed a healthy diet that can be grown in our region. At the conference Saturday, David explained that the “Western Lake Superior Healthy Diet” would require 369,567 acres of farmland to grow 100% of our food needs in this region, whereas 500,671 acres would be required to grow 83% of our food needs under the “Standard American Diet,” which is how most of us eat.


According to Stacy’s calculations, it seems we do have enough farmland in the region to grow our food. In Carlton County alone, we have 550,400 acres of land, and about 15% of that is “reasonable” to farm. That’s 82,560 acres in Carlton County alone.

So, if we could figure out a way to ensure that at least a portion of the so-called “prime” farmland in our area is reserved for growing food, we’d be set. It’s not a simple task by any means, but I believe it’s worth working on.

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Well, the onions don’t seem to be popping up very quickly or thickly, but maybe it’s too soon to give up on them. Some brave little plants are coming up . . . and worst-case scenario, I can seed some more.

The conference was pretty good. Though they all had their good points, my favorite sessions were the Saturday morning ones (more on that later). The conference closed with a dinner for Farm Beginnings students past, present, and future. I left the dinner feeling grateful once again for all the people who have helped me get to this point, and with a renewed resolve to pay it forward somehow.

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Here’s a couple more in depth articles about the Fisher-Merritts, my mentors at the Food Farm, and the award they won. Very well-deserved award, I should say.

This afternoon I’m headed to the Lake Superior Farming Conference; specifically, the season extension sessions. It’ll be good to see a bunch of other farmers — it’s been a while!

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It’s the time of year when farmers everywhere get together and exchange notes. Many of my farmer friends attended the MN SFA conference on Saturday , and many are heading to the MOSES conference this coming weekend. I’m holding out for the Lake Superior SFA’s conference in Superior on March 5-6 (you’re invited, too!).

It sounds like Vermont farmers had an interesting discussion with community organizer LaDonna Redmond from Chicago at the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) of Vermont’s annual winter conference. She raised a question that has been on my mind quite a bit these past few weeks while marketing Stone’s Throw Farm’s summer shares — Who has access to local, organic food?

Most of us in the Twin Ports are lucky enough to be able to develop a connection to the land and our food if we want — there are quite a few small farms located just outside of town. I’m very aware that there are plenty of people in the Twin Ports who don’t have a car and therefore can’t visit Stone’s Throw Farm on their own, however. There are plenty of people here who can’t afford to buy a summer share, either. That’s one reason why I love that the Duluth Farmer’s Market and the Whole Foods Co-op are located in the Hillside, where not everyone has a car.

Other CSA farms have invited their members to contribute more than the standard price of a share if they are able, to help pay for a share for someone who couldn’t otherwise afford to buy one. I really like that idea — how about you? Any other ideas about how to make sure everyone in our community has access to healthy, whole foods?

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