April 2022 News


April 2022

Spring is slowly waking the earth and encouraging us outside, so keep your chin up and dig out your calendar, because this newsletter is chock full of wonderful events and ways to connect!

Above all, we're in our final push to bridge the gap for the Lor family’s farmland access dream. Thanks for reading and supporting this important work!

—the team at Renewing the Countryside

Singing Hills Update


You're Invited!

Community Dinner at Curry in a Hurry to benefit equitable farmland transitions

Wednesday, April 27
6:30-8:00 pm
Curry in a Hurry
3025 E Franklin St, Minneapolis
$15 for 4-course buffet of delicious Bangladeshi food; full menu also available.

Sign up here so we have a good headcount for food prep.

We are on the home stretch of the fundraising that will ensure a successful farmland transition of retiring Singing Hills farmer Lynne Reeck to the Lor family!

Join Renewing the Countryside, with special guests Mai Lor, Bao Xiong and other community partners as we break bread together during the month of Ramadan for an interfaith community iftar (meal) benefitting farmland transition. There'll be a short presentation on the work we've been doing and plenty of time to enjoy delicious food and warm community vibes.

As shown in the poster above, our friends at Curry in a Hurry invite you to dine anytime from 6:30-8 pm each day now through May 1st, and a portion of the sales will be donated to benefit this Minnesota farmland access work.

If you’re unable to join us, please share the video above with your networks, and consider donating today.

Did you catch the coverage of the Singing Hills farm transition journey on the PBS Almanac program? Reporter Kaomi Lee talked with RTC’s Jan Joannides, retiring farmer Lynne Reeck, and the Lor family (shown here). Click to watch!

Farmland Access Navigators

Since the Land Access Navigators program began, over 80 new and beginning farmers have secured farm ownership or land leases! Now RTC is thrilled to embark on a 3-year renewal and expansion along with Practical Farmers of Iowa and Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service in Wisconsin. Funding is from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

The expanded program has included recruiting and training new Navigators with an emphasis on those closely aligned with Emerging Farmer communities. The new cohort of Navigators is ready to work with farmer clients—meet the new crew here!

The group recently gathered for their first annual Navigator Retreat in Hammond, MN (as shown above). With a lot of new farmers interested in alternative land ownership models, the group learned about one cooperatively-owned farm, another with numerous owners set up like a condominium, and also about the buy-protect-sell-support model put into action with the Singing Hills Farm transfer we’ve shared in this and previous Rooster updates. The Navigator team is looking forward to further developing relationships to support new and beginning farmers in securing land leases or purchasing farmland.

For more about this project, the Farmland Access Navigators and Hubs, visit gotfarmland.org.


Slow Money

Renewing the Countryside (RTC) was recently featured in Minnesota Women's Press about our work connecting Slow Money and Regional Food Systems. As RTC Executive Director Jan Joannides said, “To support the sort of robust food and farming system we wanted, we needed to make connections between those in need of financing with those who are interested in funding businesses that align with their values.”

You’ll learn some interesting things in this article, such as where Jan was born, how long ago she first formed Slow Money Minnesota, and some of the great partners she works with in this innovative financing approach to food system change.

Shown above: Jan (left) with farmer Melissa Driscoll. Photo by Sarah Whiting

Conservation Connections

Are you in need of financing for farm equipment, operations, or to purchase your farm? If you’ve never connected with your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office, we are here to help.

FSA provides safety net, price support, farm loan, conservation and disaster assistance programs, plus operating loans and microloans, along with cost-share opportunities for organic certification. Beginning Farmer Ownership loans can provide low interest loans to purchase a farm.

Our team of FSA Connectors can help you:

  • Get a meeting with FSA
  • Obtain a Farm #
  • Provide guidance in your meeting with FSA
  • Connect you with other farmers doing similar work

Join us for an in-person workshop to learn more!

  • May 4, 9-11am, Ellsworth, WI
  • May 4, 1-3pm, Durand, WI

Register today! More events will be coming soon for FSA offices throughout MN and WI. If you are interested in connecting with someone in your region, email [email protected].


Farmers Market Food Hub


Are you a farmer looking to grow your business? Our Farmers Market Hubs are ready to work with local farmers and buyers in their communities. Which one is closest to you?

The nine hubs are shown above—we invite you to reach out!


Women in Ag

Are you a woman landowner in Wisconsin working to build healthy soil?

Check out Wisconsin Women in Conservation’s spring gatherings designed to delve into climate-smart practices that sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Whatever your background, from beginner to expert, all women farmers, landowners and conservationists are welcome to attend, as well as those looking for land.

Learn what to look for to determine if your soil is healthy, with hands-on soil samples and guidance from NRCS professionals, WiWiC Conservation Coaches, and project partners such as Pheasants Forever, the Savanna Institute, and county land and water professionals.

We’ll also be conducting free water sample testing for nitrate levels. If interested, please bring a small sample of your water to your chosen location:

April 26: Stevens Point
April 27: New London
May 3: East Troy
May 6: Amery
May 20: Fountain City
June 3: La Farge

See all of the events and register at wiwic.org.

Contact RTC staffers Sara George or Elena Byrne with questions.


Local Food


Save the date! The FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace festival will be held Saturday, November 5, 2022 at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, MN. It's a fantastic opportunity to discover, sample, and buy unique local foods and beverages, plus craft beer, cider and wine just in time for holiday gatherings.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on photo galleries from past events, including last Month's inaugural spring FEAST! Local Foods Tradeshow.


Staff Moment

We enjoyed a chance to have a handful of RTC staff together in Cannon Falls last month for the FEAST! Tradeshow! In addition to Elena Byrne, Jan Joannides, and Eli Goodwell (above, L to R), Americorps VISTA Kathleen Rykhus and staffers Brett Olson, Nora Shields-Cutler, Matt Barthelemy and Marlene Petersen were all there to make sure the event went off without a hitch.

Staff page

Community Happenings

Kilimo Minnesota on MPR

Enjoy this chance to listen to Moses Momanyi talk on Minnesota Public Radio about his journey to farming in Minnesota (Dawn2Dusk Farms, Cambridge, MN) and forming his nonprofit organization, Kilimo Minnesota, a 3-5 year training program for farmers of African descent.

He's shown here with his wife and farming partner Lonah, and their two children.




Kernza Fest

Saturday, June 18
10am - 6pm
Ohuta Park
Lake City, MN

Save the date for a one-of-a-kind chance to get up close and personal with Kernza®. The family-friendly event is focused on seeing, tasting, and learning about how this innovative grain promotes healthy soil and water! Plus...

Learn more here.


GRAIN CULTURE Panel Discussion

The Artisan Grain Collaborative is co-hosting an evening of engaging conversation about our regional grainshed with AGC members Granor Farm and Elawa Farm Foundation. The event will include light fare inspired by Abra Berens’ Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes.

The panel discussion will focus on the role of the local grains in sustainable farming, modern-day cuisine, and regional food resilience, followed by a book signing of Grist. Learn more + get tickets here.




*Read past issues of the RTC Rooster on our blog*
Thank you for your support of time, energy, funds, and enthusiasm!

We continue to invite you to donate and to consider becoming a sustaining donor if you haven't already. Your generosity makes a big difference in the sustainable finances of a small non-profit organization like RTC!



Renewing the Countryside is a non-profit organization that strengthens rural areas and small towns by championing & 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 & sharing stories of rural renewal, providing practical assistance & networking opportunities for those working to improve rural America, and fostering connections between urban & rural people.

Facebook Twitter logo instagram-100px.png