Posts Tagged ‘local businesses’

Farmers Take the Stove ⋅ Tuesday, December 2 ⋅ 5:30 – 7:30 pm at Peace Church in Duluth, MNStove_sm

This much-anticipated event is a fundraiser for the LS-SFA, with a splendid dinner grown, prepared, and served by farmers and LS-SFA members. Also featured is a unique “sustainable silent auction” with farm experiences, local goods, and mouth-watering desserts up for bid.

Tickets available at the door or online by clicking here are $12 for adults, $5 for kids 6-12, and free for kids ages 5 and under.

Hope to see you there!

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Local favorites Chester Creek Café, Duluth Grill, and New Scenic Café will be preparing delicious dishes for this event with ingredients from local farmers. Many individuals will bring their own specialty dishes as well. Stop by for good food and good company, and support the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association.

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Thanks to my new friends at Walker Construction, we now have end walls on our Quonset building. Troy and Sean framed the walls, put Tyvek on, and installed 3 windows and a person door, all in 3 short days. All we have to do now is put some siding on, install the big overhead garage door, grout the anchor channel, tighten a million bolts . . . . Still, it’s nice to see so much progress in so little time. We’re going to put in another smaller garage door eventually, but we don’t have the door yet so had them install a window instead.

The birds that have been raiding my straw and hay stack in the building for nesting material were a bit confused by the new walls and windows at first, but they’ll figure it out.

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Alert reader Jean Conover sent me an article from The Des Moines Register, “Will varietal pork be the next foodie craze?” In the article, Herb Eckhouse of LaQuercia says we lost the ability to recognize the difference between different breeds when the pig hits the plate (so to speak) when pork production became industrialized. That might be changing now that more restaurants are naming their sources on menus and specialty stores are indicating the breed of the animal on their packaging, however. If “name-dropping a specific breed of hog” really becomes a way to impress your friends as this article concludes it might, Stone’s Throw Farm pork buyers will be set!

Another foodie acknowledges later in the article that it’s difficult to compare taste unless you’re sampling pork from different breeds side by side, such as at a tasting event, but it’s certainly not impossible to sample each other’s food at a restaurant or buy several different packages of bacon and compare them at home.

I know I was impressed when I first saw a clipping about Berkshire pork taped to the display case at Northern Waters Smokehaus here in Duluth a few years back — I thought I was the only one in town who knew that Berks are “Sweeter tasting than most.”

I’ve also been reading about how what you feed pigs affects the taste of the meat in Pig Perfect: Encounters with Remarkable Swine and Some Great Ways to Cook Them, which claims that finishing (i.e., feeding an animal as it nears ideal market weight) pigs on acorns and peanuts makes for the best pork. We don’t have many oak trees at Stone’s Throw Farm, nor will peanuts grow well in this climate, but I’m planning to grow oats and field peas for our piggies this year and I’m open to ideas.

I didn’t read all of Pig Perfect because I got it through inter-library loan and didn’t get around to finishing it in time, but it was fairly interesting. I was hoping for more encounters with remarkable swine and less discussion about cooking them, but I was amused by the discussion of how pigs became domesticated in the first place. I like the idea that the friendliness of pigs played a part in it:

Pigs, the more I think about them, were born to be domesticated. They are the best converter of plant to meat of any large animal.  . . . Add to this the fact that pigs are friendly, don’t seem to mind being around people (in fact, they appear to like it), and don’t require a lot of management. If there is food around, they will eat it and stay close to home.”

That last sentence could be used to explain the behavior of a lot of people, too.

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There are many things I don’t like about commuting to the farm — using gas, spending an hour in the car each day, not being there for sunrise, always managing to forget something that I needed that day, etc. One of the nice things about being a commuter, however, is that every once in a while I get a pleasant surprise when I get to the farm. Yesterday, as I approached Stone’s Throw Farm on County Rd 102, I was greeted by the beautiful red well drilling equipment of Kent’s Well Drilling.

Even better, when I got out of the van, Bob Kent came right over to tell me that they had just finished drilling the well, that it was only 90 feet deep, and that they were estimating 25 gallons of water per minute, which should be plenty for irrigating, supplying drinks for my precious pigs, and household use.

From this ...

... to this in no time.

Since it didn’t take very long to drill the well, the crew had time to install the pump, pressure tank, and hydrant, and trench the electric over from the hoophouse right away. All I need to do is get a breaker installed and we’ve got water.

As a bonus, we got about 2 tenths of rain last night.

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Well, it’s not Carhartts and Cocktails, but you might see me at Farmers Take the Stage — though certainly not on stage! Here’s the event announcement:

Join the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association (LS-SFA) TONIGHT for a fun-filled night of music and variety acts at Farmers Take the Stage – A Garden Variety Show. This family-oriented evening of music, storytelling, contests and entertainment will take place tonight, Friday, March 26, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at Amazing Grace Bakery. This year we have more seating!

A suggested admission donation of $15 will benefit LS-SFA. Children under age 10 will be admitted free.

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Thanks to everyone who attended the session on CSA at Minnesota Power today! It’s really exciting that the company is offering to serve as a CSA drop-off site for its employees. Whether or not you decide to sign up for a share, I appreciate that you took the time to check it out. CSA isn’t for everyone — it’s definitely not like shopping at the supermarket — but I hope a few of you will give it a try.

I wanted to apologize in advance for my less-than-stellar speaking skills, as Bill McKibben did at St. Scholastica on Tuesday, but I decided to think positively instead. Thanks for bearing with me.

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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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This is not new, but I ran across it today and wanted to post a bit of it. “It Takes a Community to Sustain a Local Farm” was published by Grist Magazine on January 6 and came to my attention via FoodRoutes.org.


“These days it seems the most popular person to be in the food system is the “local farmer.” Farmers markets are popping up everywhere, and their size and popularity grow all the time. Local food is trendy- even the First Family is in on it.

“But as anyone who has ever raised grain or livestock can tell you, the farmer is not the only person in the chain of players from her farm to your fork. In addition to producers, your food chain includes processors, distributors or transporters, and retailers.

“In other words, to have a truly local food system, we also need local butchers, bakers and millers, local truck drivers, local grocers, and a community that supports them in all their efforts….

…”I believe the answer lies in the example we have set for ourselves with beginning farmers. Society is beginning to see farming as a dignified and profitable profession again, and with that comes market demand for good farmers, respect for the profession, government programs to encourage new farmers, and training and educational opportunities. We need similar opportunities for small-scale butchers, millers, bakers, and other types of processors.”           –Steph Larsen

Members of my family have been trying to market and distribute purebred Berkshire pork for many years, so I understand how much effort it takes to get everyone working together–producer, processor, distributor, and consumer. We’re lucky in this community to have the Whole Foods Co-op and businesses like the Chester Creek Cafe, Duluth Grill, Green Mercantile, Lake Avenue Cafe, New Scenic Cafe, Nokomis, Northern Waters Smokehaus, Positively Third Street Bakery, and others that value local ingredients and products. If you share the goal of creating a truly local food system, however, we’ve still got a long ways to go!

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A few years ago, I never would have guessed that my first glimpse of an ugly pole would have caused such a big boost in my mood. But that is exactly what happened yesterday as I drove toward our new property on County 102, because I knew it meant we now have electricity at the ready. It doesn’t go anywhere, and I’ll have to pay $8/month for the privilege of having a meter even though we’re not using any power yet, but that’s okay. It’s one less thing to worry about.

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