January/February Newsletter


January/February 2022

Meadow Blanket

With the freezing temps, it’s a great time to snuggle under a nice warm blanket with a good book. Here are a few suggestions from our staff: Home Made by Liz Hauck; Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan; and Jayden's Impossible Garden by Melina Mangal.

Plus, cold isn’t all bad, it kills the invasive insects for us and our farmers! Read on to hear what other good things are going on while we're all hunkered down...

And a big warm thank you to Lakewinds Food Co-op customers for donating $16,228.90 during December's Round Up!

—the team at Renewing the Countryside

Farmland Access Webinars

Are you a beginning farmer looking to secure a lease or preparing to purchase a farm? Wish you could come to one of our upcoming sessions at a conference this winter but just can’t swing it? Join us for a Farmland Access Webinar series which will include short presentations and Q&A with Farmland Access Navigators.


Part 1: Tenure Basics & Assembling a Team - Feb 8: 12-1 pm OR Feb 15: 6-7pm

Part 2: Land Assessment and Search Strategies - Feb 9: 12-1 pm OR Feb 16: 6-7pm

Part 3: Building a Land Access Portfolio - Feb 10: 12-1 pm OR Feb 17: 6-7pm

*Register for your selected Q&A session at the link below; Zoom info will be sent after registration.



Update on Singing Hills Farm Transition

For the past few years, retiring Singing Hills farmer Lynne Reeck has been hoping to sell her 25 acres of farmland, transitioning it into the hands of an emerging farmer who will sustainably steward the land.

Bao Xiong, Kue Lor and their daughter Mai Lor are part of a multigenerational market-vegetable farmer family who are looking to purchase farmland after 30 years of growing crops in the Twin Cities area with unreliable and increasingly expensive farmland access.

Thanks to a partnership with American Farmland Trust, we are working to raise funds to place an agricultural conservation easement on the land which will make this transition possible. We’re in the final stretch of raising the funds to make this possible. To celebrate and push towards the finish line, we're holding a virtual community fundraiser, Bridging Dreams, on Tuesday, Feb. 22, from 6-7pm.

Join us and our event partners (see below) for an informative and engaging evening: hear from the farmers involved, learn more about efforts to bridge farmland sellers with emerging and BIPOC farmers looking for farmland, and enjoy music, art and stories. Proceeds from the event will help us cross the finish line to ensure this land transition is successful.

If you’re interested in supporting but can’t make it, donate today and share the event with your networks!

Event address details provided upon registration.

Farm to Early Care

We are so happy to be able to deliver Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Boxes to Early Care Providers in St. Paul. Providers engaged kids in so many amazing ways with the produce in the boxes—they truly used the produce as a learning tool, as well as a source of fresh, local food. Check out the video above featuring early care providers and kids engaging with the produce, all made possible with CSA boxes from the Hmong American Farmers Association!

We’d like to give a shoutout to the RTC early care team for this work, and especially to Nora Shields-Cutler for video production!

Find more of our Farm to Early Care work on our website and early care blog at renewingthecountryside.org/f2ece_blog


Local Food

We're pleased to be working with our partners in the FEAST! Local Foods Network to present a B2B Tradeshow this March, and have just launched registration for wholesale buyers and regional foodmakers.

The lunch will include locally-produced foods and features a keynote from Paul Willis, co-founder of Niman Ranch, a network of small, independent, U.S. family farmers raising livestock humanely and sustainably. Paul will share insights about how he scaled up his business responsibly and maintained strong dedication to his founding principles.

Learn more about the event here. Wholesale buyers, regional food businesses and aspiring food entrepreneurs are encouraged to register online now.


Farmers Market Food Hub

A new business opportunity awaits select Minnesota farmers’ markets in 2022—with the USDA Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grant that we were awarded, five new farmers markets will be joining the Farmers Market Food Hub project!

Leading the work with RTC are the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association (MFMA) and the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA). Key partners include the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Department of Health Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) coordinators who will provide outreach support in the communities where the market hubs are located.

“This LFPP grant builds on the work we’ve done the past five years, piloting this concept of farmers’ markets as food hubs,” said Sara George, RTC project coordinator. “With our earlier grants, we were able to trial online sales platforms that are critical to a hub's success, test processes for efficiency, and iron out licensing details. This $750K LFPP grant now provides support for three years, 2022-2024, to 10 market hubs, with the end goal to have them fully serving their communities with local food year-round.”

For more information, visit the Farmers' Market Hub website.

Photo credit: Sara George


Women in Ag

Staffers Sara George and Elena Byrne, both coordinators for Wisconsin Women in Conservation, are excited to share the WiWiC Annual Report, which shows how much the project message of conservation is resonating with women landowners. We’re so glad to be able to increase understanding of conservation activities and the ways that the USDA-NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) can help those projects come to fruition. Read about the report and download it here.

WiWiC will next offer a series of mental health sessions to offer training in ways to support each other. The online sessions will have limited space, but free registration is open now for RTC's two regions:

West Central Region (Pierce, Pepin, Buffalo counties)
Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, 10am - 12pm

Southwest Region (Vernon, Crawford, Grant counties)
Thursday, March 3, 2022, 10am - 12pm


Staff Moment

Executive Director enjoying some down time

During these snowy winter days, our ED Jan Joannides has been known to enjoy the natural slopes of her rural Southeast Minnesota land with an exhilarating sledding session—or the somewhat slower pace of snowshoeing along the Zumbro River, as shown here. With all that, it should be called "up" time, right?

Community Happenings


Beginning Farmer Summit, Cedar Rapids, IA, Feb 7, 2022

Midwest Soil Health Summit, Elk River, MN, March 8 & 9, 2022

SFA Annual Conference, College of St. Benedict, Mar 18, 2022

MOSES Organic Farming Conference, La Crosse, WI, Feb. 24-26, 2022

RTC will have a double booth—come and ask us about our programs!

The schedule is available online, full of speakers (80+), workshops (60+), and Organic University classes (8+). Learn more and register HERE.


Land Access: 127 Easy Steps to Finding Farmland
Friday 2/25 | 8:30-10:00 am
Join Farmland Access Navigators to share stories of success and challenges, plus creative and community-oriented solutions to land accession.

Helping Beginning Farmers Access USDA programs “Office Hours”
Friday 2/25 | 3:30 – 4:30 pm | Yellow Room
RTC provides one-on-one support to navigate the application process for EQIP through NRCS and FSA beginning farmer loans.

WiWiC-Women Landowner Meet Up
Saturday 2/26 | 9-10 am
Join us to network and be in community with women who value and implement conservation practices on our land.

BIPOC Farmers Listening Session
Saturday 2/26 | 1:30 – 2:15 pm
Tiffany LaShae, Farmer/Activist and KaZoua Berry, Big River Farms


Tell Us What You Think

Did you get a chance to fill out our Community Survey?

Renewing the Countryside is planning to launch a “Friends of the Countryside” membership program this year, and we’d greatly appreciate your thoughts and opinions about our action areas, ways you’ve engaged with us in the past, and how membership might work for you—and for helping us stay engaged with everyone who cares deeply about the work we’re doing.

Please follow the link below. Thank you!


*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.

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