February 2024 News



February 2024


We've been enjoying being with farmers and colleagues within food systems work at a handful of conferences this month, from Minnesota Extension Women in Ag Feb. 6 to the Sustainable Farming Assoc. Feb. 10, to Marbleseed last week and most recently, the Explore MN convention in Rochester. 

Meanwhile, spring has been working hard on returning—and we hope you've been able to enjoy some of these strangely warm, sunny days in February!

—the team at Renewing the Countryside


Farmland Access

Webinar: Farmland Access and Tenure Overview

Kathy Ruhf, Senior Advisor at Land for Good, will provide an overview of the data, key issues, and barriers and opportunities related to farmland access and tenure, with ample time for Q&A to follow. 

A nationally respected advisor and leader, Kathy has worked on farm access, tenure and transfer for over 30 years, 20 of those with Land For Good. She has written guides, articles and policy papers, led workshops and projects, and worked with farm families on these issues across the US. 

Friday, March 22
11 am - 12:30 pm CT  Zoom






Hosted by Renewing the Countryside and the Farmland Access Hub 

Questions? Contact Bonnie Warndahl: [email protected]


For more about farmland access, including an update on Hoch Orchard & Gardens, the beginning farmer tax credit from the MN Department of Agriculture, and more, see the latest Farmland Access Hub newsletter

Family Farm Breakfast & Lobby Day

Please join Renewing the Countryside, Land Stewardship Project, and other partners at the 2024 Family Farm Breakfast & Lobby Day!

Thursday, March 7, 9:00 a.m.

Wilder Foundation

Saint Paul, MN

Enjoy a delicious, locally-sourced breakfast followed by issue briefings and constituent meetings with legislators and other public officials. Lobby training provided. Transportation options and childcare available.

Learn more and register HERE 

Farm to School

Minnesota Farm to School Roadshow is a series of regional in-person networking events for producers, schools, and early care providers to make connections and learn how to build successful relationships. There will be six events around the state and each will include training and facilitated networking. Please consider attending the session nearest you! 

Date and Location 

Sun., Mar. 4, 12-4pm - St. Peter Community Center (St. Peter, MN)

For questions, contact Sara George at [email protected]

Wisconsin Women in Conservation

We had a wonderful time with our third year of doing a WiWiC 'In Her Boots' Roundtable at the Marbleseed Organic Farming Conference, and what a turnout—we had to pull all the way back to the walls to fit everyone in! We heard some powerful stories of what brings women joy from their land, as well as what challenges them.

Above, left, RTC's three WiWiC staffers—Elena, Sara, and Alanna, who is new to the team for this year and has added fantastic energy to the effort! At right, Kriss Marion and Joy Miller trying to fit the entire circle into the frame (they almost did it)! 

WiWiC's winter webinar series this year is focused on wellness. , staring with a very well-attended January session featuring . If you missed the January session with Laura Frederiskson-Gosewisch of Vital Ground Farm, check out Queen Bee Podcast Session #12 with Laura, a certified clinical massage therapist and farmer wellness coach, farmer, and market manager. 

The February 29 session, Empower Yourself with Herbs for Health and Stamina, features Jane Hawley Stevens of Four Elements Organic Herbals and promises to be full of nourishing information for mind and body. Learn more and register HERE

And look—we got to see both Laura and Jane last weekend at Marbleseed! 

More about WiWiC

Artisan Grains

Know your grain farmer!

The latest issue of Marbleseed’s Organic Broadcaster includes an article about the Artisan Grain Collaborative’s Grain Chain Connections video series, a project led by RTC staffer Elena Byrne. Interconnections Key to a Thriving Regional Grain Economy offers background on why it's beneficial for communities to embrace grain as an important part of a resilient food system. It also offers some sneak peeks on the episodes to come.

Speaking of which, episode 2, Mexican Tortillas, Midwest Maize just dropped last week as well, featuring Tortilleria Zepeda and Meadowlark Organics, one of the farms they work with to source corn. Spoiler alert: you might be surprised at Julian Zepeda's path to becoming a food entrepreneur!


Feedback and questions are welcome! Contact [email protected].

Perennial Fruit!

*Grower input wanted*

Farmers, are you growing berries? If so, add your voice!

We're working collectively to advance the growth of the amazing beneficial berries that grow in the Midwest. To better understand berry processing infrastructure needs, we're working with the Midwest Elderberry Cooperative, the University of Wisconsin Emerging Crops Coalition, the Savanna Institute, Food Finance Institute, and the American Aronia Berry Association to gather perspectives from berry growers throughout the Midwest.

The survey is anonymous, and we would greatly appreciate your participation as soon as possible, and before March 1st. Responses will inform grant applications due in early March, and immediate responses help us strategize the most effective projects for priority funding.


Go Farm Connect

Connectors were busy at the Marbleseed Organic Farming Conference, networking with beginning, emerging, women, veteran, and farmers of color to connect them to farm assistance programs.

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


FEAST! Local Foods

THIS JUST IN—Volume 7 of LOCAL FEAST! is starting up, and we are thrilled to announce that we've moved up the timeline for this year's magazine! That means the print edition will hit newsstands this summer, and we'll have them in time to share them at the Minnesota State Fair. 

Have you always wanted to place an ad?

Does the summer release mean you can now promote your end-of-summer event with us?

Click here for our digital editions and v.7 rate card.

ALSO: We're so excited for our industry-only local foods tradeshow coming up in just 3 weeks, Thursday, March 21, 2024 at the Grand O2 Event Center, Cannon Falls, MN. The exhibitor lineup is nearly full, and our buyer registration is breaking all past records—which is wonderful because it's all about getting more local foods onto shelves and into cafeterias! Learn more and find registration info at local-feast.org/tradeshow2024

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

Staff Moment

RTC staff got to spend TWO days together last month, reflecting on our work, learning from each other, generally having a good time, and visioning ways to grow and improve. On Feb. 1 we were treated to a tour of urban agriculture places and people in St. Paul, led by our own Melvin Giles along with our farm to early care and urban agriculture staff. Below, we gathered for a photo at the Rondo Commemorative Plaza where we learned more about plans for this historically Black community. Behind the sign you can see the roof of the future RTC office! 

Below, left, you can see us at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, where Angie and Sophia told us about their early care and other programs. Below, right, we visited a few community gardens.

Read more on our staff page

Community Happenings


Land Access: Are you ready?

Saturday, March 9
10:00 AM
Galaxie Library
Apple Valley, MN
This workshop is designed with the understanding that accessing land is one of the most complex decisions a farmer will make. If you are a new or aspiring farmer, this workshop will help you with strategies and tools to approach your land access journey with confidence.


2024 Midwest Soil Health Summit
March 13-14
Courtyard Marriott
Mankato, MN

Presented by the Sustainable Farming Association, the Soil Health Summit draws together local and national experts in the field with attendees for discussion, networking, and education. Farmers, ag resource professionals, agency staff, hungry learners and more – all are welcome to attend and learn together.




*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.


Facebook  Twitter logo  instagram-100px.png