Summer is hanging on tight—have you been processing some bountiful harvests? We're happy to share some of our recent action—such as our exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair going on now!
We also have some fall events for you to get marked on your calendars, such as our Celebration of 20 years on Saturday, October 14 in Red Wing, MN—more details below!
—the team at Renewing the Countryside
In 2003, RTC set out to build more just, vibrant and resilient communities. Twenty years later, because of your help, this work has greatly impacted thousands of lives across our Upper Midwest region…and beyond. But we still have much to do.
Please join us for an afternoon of great local food, lively games, and joyful fundraising as we honor RTC's accomplishments and look to raise $25,000 to continue our work together.
When: Saturday, October 14, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Where: Anderson Center, 163 Tower View Dr, Red Wing, MN 55066
You’ll enjoy delicious farm-to-table hors d'oeuvres and libations, fundraising games, a silent auction, and more while learning about Renewing the Countryside’s most recent initiatives from their incredible team and a few special guests.
Select from three levels of support when you purchase your tickets to attend.
Also in Red Wing:
October is the perfect time to see the beautiful fall colors, and fewer places are better than Red Wing, MN. We recommend a leisurely stroll, a drive along the river, or a visit to Red Wing's annual Fall Festival downtown before or after the event.
Minnesota State Fair
It's a blast! Have you joined us yet?
From our theme of Preserving Farmland for a Resilient Future to our relationships with chefs and food businesses filling up our schedule, this food and farming exhibit in the Eco Experience building is near and dear to our hearts as well as our year-long programs such as the Farmland Access Hub and FEAST Local Foods Network.
Twelve days is a long run for our staff who are managing these activities, so if you attend and see Matt, Maeve, or Brett, please give them a high-five, fist bump, or honestly, a hug—because they've earned it! Follow us on social media for daily updates!
We'd really love for you to take in the poster exhibit —even if you can't get to the fair. Multiple staff and consultants helped develop the stories and concepts they convey, and they feature beautiful illustrations by Khou Vue. Do you know of others that would appreciate this information? We'd love for you to share these 18 posters widely!!
Volunteer spots are still open for Labor Day! Get in free, get a limited edition local food organic cotton t-shirt! Click the button to sign up...
Will we have farming communities in the Upper Midwest in the future? Will young people become farmers? Will older farmers be able to retire?
On November 14 & 15, partners and stakeholders from around the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois, will gather to learn, share, and connect around an array of issues related to farmland access such as financing, tenure, conservation, and transfer. The Farmland Summit will raise awareness of critical challenges and opportunities, bring together impact-makers, and highlight opportunities for advancing policy and action around farmland access and transfer.
Stay tuned for registration & other details here
The Summit will be held at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, MN and hosted by the Farmland Access Hub, a consortium of entities working together to improve farmland access for emerging farmers. To get connected to the Hub, please email [email protected].
The Farmland Access Hub and Renewing the Countryside, along with our partners Marbleseed, Land Stewardship Project (LSP), Region Nine Development Commission, Foxhead Regenerative Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Agriculture and others are offering more educational and networking opportunities for landowners and farmers around farmland transition. To bring people together for learning and discussion—as well as to draw attention to farmland owners interested in transitioning their land with a positive community legacy—the Hub is planning a cluster of regional Landowner/Landseeker Meet & Greet events in Minnesota and Wisconsin this September. These events are free and open to landowner, landseekers and service providers.
Incubator Farm Opportunity
Want to start your own ag or land based business but not quite ready for your own farm? Check out Nettle Valley Farm's incubator farm program based on pastured livestock near Spring Grove, MN in the beautiful Driftless Area.
For program details like costs, housing options and more, check out our website. Ideal candidates will have farming experience, good communication skills, and entrepreneurial drive.
Feel free to reach out with your questions and ideas! Even if your business idea isn't the right fit for our program, I'll try to help connect you with one that might be.
Contact: Dayna Burtness
Go Farm Connect
Go Farm Connect (a project of Renewing the Countryside) hosted a field day and land access workshop for emerging farmers at Sharing Our Roots Farm this past month with great success. Kisii and Swahili interpretation was available.
At the event we introduced many Land Access Navigators and Go Farm Connect Connectors. We learned about USDA programs, workshop tips on how to prepare to purchase farmland, and connect with other emerging farmers and service providers. Above, the participants were working through what records to keep and how to track those records in a meaningful way.
For questions about Go Farm Connect, contact [email protected]
Farmers Market Food Hubs
Wililyn Dowell, who has been working with the Grand Rapids Farmers’ Market Hub as a farmer, an aggregator and a Hub manager for two years, knows first hand the need for healthy eating initiatives such as Veggie Rx. “Everyone should have access to fresh, healthy, local food. The Veggie Rx will help address the food security in our local community” she says.
Meanwhile, at Grand Itasca Hospital and Clinic, Kelly Campbell got inspired about this and sourced the funding to do a voucher program this year. Five clinicians will each get 25 vouchers worth $20 each to hand out to patients. Patients can then spend them on the Farmers’ Market Hub online store for fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables.
In 2022, the Hub launched the SNAP/EBT Marketshare Pilot program to address the financial barriers to eating fresh, healthy food. The Grand Rapids Farmers’ Market was offering a triple match for SNAP/EBT participants, matching the customers’ purchase dollar-for-dollar, up to $10. The triple match helped SNAP customers stretch their dollars at the farmers market, making healthy food more affordable.
Dowell states, “We continue to see the impact this project has on our farming operation and the potential for it as a model that will increase sales of specialty crops, increase farmer profits, and improve distribution systems so more community members can have access to healthy, local food.”
FEAST! Local FoodsTicket sales are live!
It's the 10th annual FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace, and we're so pumped for this year that we've opened ticket sales early!
Have you ever been to a grocery store where you can get samples of almost everything, and also, everything is locally made and/or locally grown?
This festival is something we've been proud to coordinate now for 10 years running—and we'd love to have you join us! Samples, sales, cooking demos, kids activities and more, from 10am to 4pm, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023 at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minn. Regional food businesses who register by Friday, September 1 receive a discount and priority booth placement.
For questions about FEAST! Local Foods Network programs, contact Elena at 608.712.8340 or [email protected].
Farm to School
Farm to School provides a fantastic opportunity for our children to experience locally grown, nutrient dense foods from local farmers in their own community, but often there are myths that create barriers for these connections to happen successfully.
Jane Jewett of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) and Sara George, staffer at RTC recently attended the MN School Food Nutrition Conference to help dispel some of the most common myths and help overcome some of these barriers.
Are you experiencing barriers to Farm to School? Join us in our monthly Technical Assistance (TA) Office Hours below.
2023 Monthly Farm to School and Early Care Technical Assistance (TA) Office Hour
What: Join members from the Minnesota Farm to School Leadership Team and other farm to school and early care stakeholders each month to discuss and find answers to your questions related to local foods and making farm to school and early care a success in your community.
Who: Anyone with questions related to farm to school and farm to early care. All are welcome – farmers, school nutrition professionals, early care providers, parents, teachers, distributors, gardeners, local public health professionals, extension educators, and any other farm to school and early care advocates.
When: The second Wednesday of the month from 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM. If these times don’t work for you, you can submit your questions here.
Register: Join us online via Zoom. Register once and you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining each monthly meeting.
Did you see that we're hiring? We have a position open for a Twin Cities Urban Agriculture Initiative Co-Manager, as well as spots on our Twin Cities Urban Ag and Gardening Steering Committee that includes a wonderful People's Garden initiative to help Twin Cities metro-area farmers and gardeners access the resources they need to flourish.
Please check out the full descriptions for these positions on our website, and help us get the word out if you know people who would love these opportunities!
On a related note, we have a podcast to recommend!
Last month, The Plant a Trillion Trees podcast spoke with our Hannah Lewis about her book, Mini-Forest Revolution: Using the Miyawaki Method to Rapidly Rewild the World.
Trees are sometimes an under-appreciated perennial element of our landscape, and this is a fascinating and inspiring discussion. Don't miss it!!
Join Soil Sisters and the Culinary Ladies Collective for a Happy Hour at Brix Cider!
Harvest. Cook. Feed. Share is an informal opportunity to network with farmers, chefs, entrepreneurs, educators and eaters planting seeds of resilience and smashing the patriarchy!
By setting the table for this informal setting to bring together women-identifying and non-binary people who share a passion for all aspects for the food system, we want to collaboratively cultivate hope, ideas, innovation and challenge each other.
Meet, network, savor each other's company and share a lovely late summer evening.
All welcome. You do not need to be a member or involved with Culinary Ladies Collective or Soil Sisters/Renewing the Countryside—come learn, meet & connect!
When: Wednesday, Sept. 6, 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Where: Brix Cider, 119 S. 2nd Street, Mt Horeb, WI 53572
Wisconsin Women in Conservation
Fall in-person events are here and we’d love to have you join us!
Got Invasives? Workshops dive into identifying and managing problematic plants:
- Sept 13, 11-2 The Creamery, Menomonie
- Sept 18, 11:30-3:30 Lucky Break Acres, Elkorn
- Sept 21, 1-4 Schmeeckle Reserve, Stevens Point
- Sept 22, 1-4 Barkhausen Preserve, Suamico
- Sept 22, 1-4:30 Swede Pickings, Bay City
- Sept 29, 1-4 Wild Hills Winery, Muscoda
WiWiC Southern Regional Summit:
- Friday Sept 15, 9:30-3 pm, Green Haven Gardens
Look Book Launches:
- Oct 5, 4:30-6:30 Sawmill Pizza, Clear Lake
- Oct 10, 4-6 Green Bay Botanical Garden
- Oct 11, 4-6 Twin Bluff Farms, Stockholm
- Oct 12, 4:30-6:30 Michael Fields, East Troy
Matt and Maeve snapping a quick selfie amidst the action at the Fair—featuring locavore Beth Dooley at the demo stage, and an enthusiastic helper in the background (did you spot them?)...we're so lucky to have these two on staff!
Read more on our staff page
Check out the Come and Get It on-farm food events coming this month!
Sat, Sept 9, 3 - 8 PM
Afternoon farmer's market, tours to see grazing farm animals, ticketed farm-to-table dinner, and an old-fashioned barn dance and cash bar. Children's activities, post-sunset bonfire, and camping to top it all off!
Sun, Sept 10, 3 - 6 PM
Farmers market, chef demos, and an on-farm meal, along with activities for the whole family.
Sat, Sept 16, 2 - 11:30 PM
New London-Spicer, MN
Farmers, vendors, theater, food and music at The Land. Sod House Theatre will perform a choreographed 5-course dinner that celebrates agriculture and the harvest.
Sat, Sept 23, 10 AM - 5 PM
This event brings together farmers and consumers for an interactive day of hands-on education, local food and wares, art, and music. Expect vendors, local food trucks, live music, hands-on workshops, and family friendly activities focused on how to farm and eat sustainably and organically.
Land Stewardship Project (LSP) is once again offering their Farm Beginnings Class, a year-long training program for new and prospective farmers. The class focuses on the goal-setting, marketing, and financial skills needed to establish a successful farm business.
Participants will name their vision, acquire the tools they need to make it happen, learn from farmers, and become part of a community of support to help them succeed.
Classes will be offered primarily online, with a few in-person sessions in the Twin Cities. Duration: Nov. 2023 - April 2024.
Click here for more information about Farm Beginnings.
Click here to apply for Farm Beginnings 2023-2024.
Looking for a way to make a greater impact?
Become a sustaining donor. Your generous, on-going support makes all the programs above (and so much more!) possible for thousands in our local food system.
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.