March E-Newsletter


March 2019

Profiles | Events | Partners | Resources | Reading | Trivia

Spring has sprung! And our wealth of snow has turned into a wealth of water all at once. While we more and more often face these extremes, we have our community both to help us through these challenge immediate times, and to help us change systems that can mitigate these challenges in the future.

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June E-Newsletter


June 2018

Profiles | Events | Partners | Resources | Reading | Trivia

The heat of summer has settled upon us. Some plants are thriving, some are bolting in distress, and you can say the same about some of the neighbors! One thing ties all of our communities together - rural, urban, and suburban - and that's how we use our natural resources, including agricultural land and the policies that affect it. It's been a roller coaster of a farm bill year already, but there are definitely highlights of hope. Check out NSAC's latest post on how the just-passed Senate's version of the Farm Bill aligns with many of the priorities of family farmers and sustainable agriculture.

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May E-Newsletter


May 2018

Profiles | Events | Partners | Resources | Reading | Trivia

Summer is suddenly just around the corner, and we're excited to celebrate what that means for each of our communities. Creaking cafe doors are open on the corner, friends are enjoying the sun, and farmers are working hard to catch up with the growing season after a wet spring.

Let's step boldly — open windows and lilac-scented breezes — and work together to build bridges, connect rural and urban areas, and foster new approaches to building healthy, vibrant communities! Read below for more about how we're doing just that. You are always welcome to get in touch with us and support our work at any time. We couldn't do it without you!

Jan Joannides, Executive Director

look who's renewing the countryside

Julie-Barton_Headshot_small.jpgAt Renewing the Countryside, our work revolves around developing innovative solutions with and listening closely to rural community members, farmers, activists, and entrepreneurs. Jennifer Nelson embodies all of those roles, and we're excited to welcome her as our Wisconsin Farmland Access Hub navigator.

We originally worked with Jennifer through her role as an organic specialist at one of our partner organizations, MOSES. Jennifer's additional experience looking for land as a flower farmer at Humble Pie Farm made it clear she was the right fit to join our team and help others nagivate the same complex web. Photo credit Claire Campbell.

Learn more about our Farmland Access Hub and consider donating to help keep these innovative programs creatively and effectively renewing our countrysides.


places to go / things to do


Thriving by Design, June 27-29

At the heart of Renewing the Countryside is connecting people with each other and resources, and part of that work means building bridges between rural and urban communities. This upcoming event is definitely worth checking out if this is also important to you.

A statewide gathering of Minnesota residents to begin and follow-thru on a six-month process to create a comprehensive policy agenda and socioeconomic contract - the One Minnesota Equity Blueprint - for achieving rural-urban and racial economic equity and inclusive growth.

Visit to register and check out their video about the event!

partner spotlight: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)

Minnesota Farmers Market Association

We are part of an alliance of grassroots organizations, called NSAC, that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. 

NSAC has been providing leadership and support around the recent Farm Bill, which touches all of our lives and communities. And what a wild ride it's been! About one week ago, for the second time in history (and the second time in five years) the House version of the bill was voted down. Just a couple of days later, the Senate Appropriation's Committee advanced the agriculture funding bill, and thankfully did not cut funding for critical conservation programs. 

Your voices are important in passing a farm bill that supports healthy people, landscapes, and rural economies, and the next month is a critical time for decisions related to funding. Keep up to date on what you can do to support this year's Farm Bill via NSAC's blog.

resource picks of the month: Land Access Farminar



Our Farmland Access Team has been hard at work over the last several months to coordinate over twenty organizations working on this topic in the Upper Midwest. We help new farmers navigate the increasingly difficult process of finding affordable land to farm in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

The Hub offers workshops, day-long boot camps, and one-on-one coaching with Farmland Access Navigators. Our technical advisors include attorneys, real estate professionals, financial experts, and seasoned farmers. Learn more about our program here.

Watch the new Farmland Access webinar for best practices and tips developed with our partners at Practical Farmers of Iowa here, featuring our own Brett Olson and Kate Edwards!


what we're reading: The Rise of the Rural Creative Class


Digging into the data may not sound like your cup of tea, so we've let the professional do it, and this great article from City Lab begins to sort out some interesting details about innovation and creativity in rural communities. 
At Renewing the Countryside, we know that entrepreneurship often thrives in robust rural economies, but access to resources and capital may be more difficult. Our work with the FEAST! Local Foods Network is just one way we're providing the support small food businesses want and need to grow.
"These rural creative centers tend to be in relatively close proximity to and have good connections to major metro areas; are home to a major university or college; or have considerable natural amenities which draw people to them." Read the full article here.

trivia of the month

LisaQ: This is a common wild edible mushroom that you can find in the spring in the Midwest. It has several names, tell us two.

A: E-mail your answer to for a chance to win a local foods T-shirt!


Want to learn more about the great community that makes up Renewing the Countryside? Meet last month's trivia winner: Julie Miller of Rochester, MN!

Congrats to last month's winner, Julie. Your local food T-shirt is on its way!



Renewing the Countryside is a non-profit organization that strengthens rural areas and small towns by championing and supporting farmers, artists, entrepreneurs, educators, activists, and others who are revitalizing the countryside through innovative endeavors.
We build awareness and support for these initiatives by collecting and sharing stories of rural renewal, providing practical assistance and networking opportunities for those working to improve rural America, and fostering connections between urban and rural people.

Have you heard about AmazonSmile? 
AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as
The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.
The link below will allow you to contribute to our work when you shop Amazon. Thanks for checking it out!

AmazonSmile logo


Renewing the Countryside


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Farewell to a Friend: Bruce Bacon

I first met Bruce when I was working on my Master's degree. I was interviewing innovative landowners across the state who had working landscapes that were generating income and protecting the environment. While most of my 30 plus interviews lasted an hour or two - the interview with Bruce was 4 or 5 hours. 

That first interview led to a 20 year friendship. It included harvesting crab apples and making the best jelly ever. It included many pesto dinners. It included many trips to the farm to discuss how to develop an enterprise that supported people, community, and the soil.



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Minnneapolis Farm to School BBQ



Earlier this month, Anna and Eli set up our Veggie Grand Prix at the Minneapolis Public Schools BBQ, One of our favorite events of the year! We asked Children of all ages to name that vegetable before racing them down the speedway. With the help of a few eager 3rd graders, we built googly-eyed roadsters from common veggies like potato and zucchini and trickier ones like ginger and golden beets. We had veggie themed prizes for everyone! Families enjoyed delicious farm-to-table food, care of the MPS culinary program, with recipes created by their partners at local restaurants like Birchwood Cafe and Sen Yai Sen Lek. Well done, Minneapolis Public School's, for hosting a wonderful community event!

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Farm to Child Care: A Provider Spotlight 3

Interview with Candace

By Cassaundra Lewis March 13th, 2017

Candace has been taking care of children since her kids were babies, I believe that she’s been doing Farm to Child Care before it had a name. Self-sustainability, good nutritional food, teaching the fundamentals of gardening and preparing foods like apples and blueberries.

“How has the Farm to Child Care training made a difference?”

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Calling all Parents! Do you have picky eaters?

 As a parent of two wonderful children, I want what’s best for them. Sometimes, I don’t always know what to do. So, I take to the internet for some free advice, researching articles from credible sources, blogs from parents who are motivational and inspiring. Before I became a MN GreenCorps member, I had not heard of Farm to Child Care, but now that I have learned the ins and outs, I believe full-heartedly in this movement. Farm to Child Care connects children with where their food comes from and how it’s grown. F2CC encourages kids to get dirty in the garden and clean in the kitchen, learn about nutrition, and connect all these concepts with maths, science, art, music, and so much more. It also encourages child care providers and children’s families to learn best practices about healthy eating, like being a family-style eating and role-modelling.

 So, let's change the concern that a growing number of our kids are going to be obese and start them off with a healthy foundation.

 As a parent, you might ask, "I have a picky eater, what can I do?"; I have compiled numerous suggestions, followed by some examples that were found on the internet.


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Farm to Child Care: A Providers Spotlight 2

Interview with Hannah Riddle
By Cassaundra Lewis - February 20th, 2017

Hannah has been a trainer and a child care provider, currently, she works at a center where she is incorporating activities of Farm to Child Care with the kids that attend. She dreams of opening a program that encompasses the farm to table approach with a large garden for experiential learning.

“How has the Farm to Child Care training made a difference?”

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History of Farm to Child Care

Found on Flickr under CIFOR

Farm to Child Care (F2CC) is a nationwide movement connecting childcare providers and young children with local farmers for the purpose of providing healthy meals and snacks, as well as incorporating local food themes into childcare curriculum and activities. Local foods are determined by the consumer but usually refer to the same region, within a 100-mile radius, the state you live in, or some other combination. Local foods are fresher and have retained a great deal of their nutritional content, opposed to food that has traveled thousands of miles or been grown for the primary purpose of a long, beautiful shelf life. When children learn, they learn by example; through the curriculum, taste testing new foods and food preparation techniques, gardening, or farm visits. Providers, families, and educators can make a by step changes, and small modifications in what they're already doing, to include nutrition education and information about agriculture and kitchen skills into everyday activities. Whether food is purchased directly from farmers, farmers markets, Community Shared Agriculture (CSA), or picked from the garden in your own backyard, Farm to Child Care has the potential to help children learn healthy eating habits and participate in quality learning environments.

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Farm to Child Care: A Providers Spotlight

Farm to Child Care Provider Interview
with Stacy Boysen

By Cassaundra Lewis - February 20th, 2017


Stacy owns and runs her own Family Child Care Program with her husband. As a provider and a trainer, she has incorporated many aspects of Farm to Child Care over the years. I reached out to Stacy and asked if she wouldn’t mind sharing her journey, about her experiences of implementing Farm to Child Care into her own childcare.

“How has the Farm to Child Care training made a difference?”

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