April 2024 News


April 2024

We hope you had time this Earth Day to consider the value and beauty of this earth and all that it provides. We love that we get to work every day to support farmers in stewarding land and to support all of us in increasing our connections to farmers in meaningful ways. 

Thanks for checking in with our activities, and drop us a line if you have thoughts or questions to share with us!

—the team at Renewing the Countryside

New Farmer U

Are you a beginning farmer who has been to all the conferences and heard all the presentations...but you sometimes feel like they are designed for a slightly different audience? Maybe for farmers a little further along the path? 

Come level the playing field at New Farmer U! This conference is designed for beginning farmers! It will meet you where you’re at with ample time for questions and discussion. 

Do you want to learn how to find the highest profit margins on what you grow? Are your markets performing for you, or is it time to make adjustments? Need to scale up but you’re not sure how? Which skills and resources do you still need to establish or continue a viable farm business? 

New Farmer U will take place in the winter of 2024 in Minnesota and we want to know where, when, and what you would like to learn more about. Please take this quick 4-question survey below by April 30 and let us know which topics you want to learn about!

A program in partnership with Marbleseed and Renewing the Countryside.

New Farmer U is supported by NIFA, USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (2020-49400-32787).


Urban Agriculture


Renewing the Countryside is excited to work with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and other partners to enrich urban agriculture in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. We received 172 applications for our new micro-grant program and are working to read through the exciting project proposals!

The goals of this micro-grant program are to help urban farmers and gardeners expand their production ability, access land and markets, use conservation practices, and increase their resilience to the various risks of farming in urban settings. 

Learn more here.

For questions, contact Hannah Lewis ([email protected]) or Gary Hampton ([email protected]).

Farmland Access

Did you happen to catch the farmland access article that came out in Edible Communities in March? Farmland for the Future by Jessianne Castle is a wonderful article and includes commentary from RTC's ED Jan Joannides and Alison Volk of American Farmland Trust, along with spotlights on Hoch Orchard (pictured above) and the Lor Family Farm. We’re excited for this important issue to be presented in Edible magazines throughout the country!


Webinar available!

Did you miss the farmland access webinar with Kathy Ruhf of Land for Good? She offered an overview of farmland access, transfer, and preservation challenges, along with resources for farm legacy planning, and it's now available on the Farmland Access Hub website.

Please share widely with your friends, family, and networks!





On the policy front— 

Interesting federal legislation has been introduced to help address barriers faced by young and beginning farmers and ranchers. For more, read American Farmland Trust’s press release:

AFT Applauds Introduction of New Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Support Transfer of Farms to Next Generation  


In case you missed it, click here for the Farmland Access Hub Newsletter

Questions? Contact Bonnie Warndahl: [email protected]

FUNdraiser Update

Save the date! We're putting the FUN in fundraiser on Thursday, June 27th! 

RTC's summer fundraising event isn't your grandma's gala of uncomfortable formal wear, dry chicken, and even drier speeches. It's a lively get-together filled with games (wine bottle ring toss, anyone?), great conversation and delicious farm-to-table hors d'oeuvres and libations.

We'll share stories, play games, and bid on unique items like beekeeping and berry picking excursions on local farms—all in the name of raising support for vibrant and sustainable communities. 

Mark your calendars for Thursday, June 27th and plan to join us as we celebrate the impact you've helped RTC make in the past 20 years.

Stay tuned for more details!


Farm to School

That's a wrap for the first Minnesota Farm to School Roadshow!

Renewing the Countryside (RTC), Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), and the University of Minnesota Extension (UMNE) all played a large role in material development, planning, and outreach to make these events a success.

The team visited six different locations across the state and there were over 160 attendees that represented schools, farmers, producers, community partners and more! Participants learned about the local foods marketing mix, sales diversification, and how to speak the same language between schools and farmers. They also had an opportunity to offer input on Minnesota's Farm to Kids strategic plan, and of course, for buyers and producers to make connections with each other. 

Top ten items participating schools want from area farmers:







Cherry Tomatoes





Check out the article featured in AgWeek that features the Rochester event!

For questions, contact Sara George at [email protected]


Farmers Market Food Hub

Our food hubs are ready for the spring season! 

Learn about how the food hubs function and the impact they have in their communities by watching our new informational video made by Minnesota Farmers Market Association’s Sina War. We think it's a great summary of WHAT the hubs are, HOW they work, and WHY they're important!

Want to learn about buying or selling your products through one of the hubs? Contact Maeve today at [email protected] and she can connect you with a hub near you!

Farm to Early Care

ASPHN 2024 Farm to Early Care and Education Convening

We're excited to be working with partners to bring a national farm to early care conference to the Twin Cities!

Cultivating Connections: Bridging the Gaps to Strengthen Farm to ECE

June 11-13, 2024

Embassy Suites Hotel, Minneapolis Downtown, Minnesota

Attendees will: 

  • Gain knowledge and resources to build capacity for equitable, comprehensive Farm to ECE at the state or local level.
  • Explore the significance of outdoor learning environments and Farm to ECE on children’s resilience.
  • Examine ways to enhance the equity and inclusivity of public health initiatives.
  • Connect and learn with other dedicated Farm to ECE advocates across the nation.
  • Leave with enthusiasm for exploring and implementing  innovative Farm to ECE practices, resources, and tools.


For questions, contact Alexandria Harris: [email protected] 


Farm Labor Dashboard

We maxed out registration for the April virtual retreat for women farmers on body mechanics, continuing the pilot we kicked off in November. This series takes a proactive and positive approach to aging: Let’s celebrate the bodies and abilities we have and learn together how to best care for ourselves to keep our hands in the soil for as long as we choose. We'll be offering this again in November and January, so stay tuned!

This Friday, The Farm Labor Dashboard is holding an in-person workshop in Mt. Horeb, WI to offer hands-on training on ways to approach farm tasks that protect health and safety:

Ergonomics, Safety & Wellbeing Workshop

April 26, 8:30am - 2:30pm

Learn more about upcoming events here


Go Farm Connect

Pictured, L to R: Kaitlin Schott (NRCS), Allison Cook (Wisconsin Farmers Union), Esther Durairaj (Michael Fields Agricultural Institute), Sara George (RTC)

Sara George, Renewing the Countryside; Kaitlin Shott, NRCS; Esther Durairaj, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, and Jean Kursave, NRCS at the Wisconsin Land & Water Conservation Association annual conference in Green Bay.

For more information, see the Events page at gofarmconnect.org.


Wisconsin Women in Conservation

It's that time of year: the birds are singing and the flowers are springing to life. As these flowers emerge from the ground and begin to open, the bees and the butterflies are swooping in, pollinating along the way. It is refreshing seeing all the spring action, but have you ever stopped to think about what's happening beneath the surface of the soil to allow this to happen? Soil health is an absolute wonder. At this gathering, there will be a rainfall simulation along with other Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) resources, and we can learn together about the impact you can have on what is happening under the soil surface.

Bring a friend along and join fellow women landowners, farmers and conservationists along with local experts, to delve into learning the benefits of cover crops, no till and the value of keeping that soil covered. 

Lunch provided—enjoy a delicious lunch of organic and locally sourced ingredients prepared by Donna Justin, owner of Justin Trails Resort.

Nikki Krause, Resource Conservationist with Natural Resources Conservation Service (Monroe County)
Hannah St. Aubin, Soil Conservationist with Natural Resources Conservation Service (Jackson County)

Host: Alanna Koshollek, Renewing the Countryside

Justin Trails Resort 7452 Kathryn Avenue, Sparta, WI 54656


More about WiWiC

Soil Sisters

Last Saturday, April 20 in Monroe, WI, we held a collaborative event:

Compost, Conservation & Cookies:  Women Sharing their Love for the Land


We discussed composting basics and soil health, with tips for both city and country dwellers. 

There were plenty of inspiring personal stories of local Soil Sisters and Stewardship Ambassadors with the Women, Food & Agriculture Network on the various ways they have improved their soil with composting.

Stay tuned to the Soil Sisters website and social media for more coming events!


FEAST! Local Foods

The 10th Anniversary FEAST! Local Foods Tradeshow was our biggest yet, seeing double the number of wholesale buyers attending from grocery stores, co-ops, specialty stores, school district foodservice, and more. 

Above left is Jan Joannides after presenting the FEAST! Innovative Local Sourcing award to Amy Forgues of Hidden Springs Creamery (Westby, WI), which makes sheep's milk cheese on-farm, with locally-sourced added ingredients like maple syrup.

Above right is Tim Penny of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation presenting the FEAST! Inspiring Social Benefit Award to Indigenous Food Lab/ NATIFS, which is dedicated to addressing the economic and health crises affecting Native communities by re-establishing Native foodways. 

The FEAST! Local Food Champion Award was presented to Ferndale Market, a vertically-integrated pastured poultry farm in Cannon Falls, MN with an on-farm store offering a fantastic array of locally-made and locally-grown products. 

For questions about FEAST! Local Foods Network programs, contact Elena at 608.712.8340 or [email protected].

Staff Moment

We had the opportunity to participate in Naturally Minnesota's Resource Roundup event on April 5th to share information with food entrepreneurs about our FEAST! Local Foods Network activities that help them connect with consumers and markets to help them grow.

Staffers Matt Barthelemy and Maeve Mallozzi-Kelly took the time to grab this pic amidst the networking!

Read more on our staff page



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

Looking for a way to make a greater impact?

Become a sustaining donorYour generous, on-going support makes all the programs above (and so much more!) possible for thousands in our local food system.



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.