July 2023 News


July 2023

Whew, July has been a busy month, hasn't it? Or is it just us?

Check out this month's news fit to crow about, and as always, we'd love your feedback!

—the team at Renewing the Countryside

Come & Get It!

The Come & Get It! team is celebrating its first on-farm local food event of the season!
Sowing Seeds: Celebrating Local Foods and Lost Skills took place at Alternative Roots Farm in Madelia, MN on July 23rd
The Sowing Seeds event focused on educating community members on building resilience through promoting local food and traditional skills—for example, they featured a demonstration of using flax to make linen! 

We're also celebrating the launch of the new project website!

Check out onfarmfoodevents.org for details about the cool, unique events in each of the nine participating communities. Then grab a friend and head on out to your favorite! Don't forget to bring a recyclable bag for all the special finds at each festival

Sun, Aug 6: Aitkin Summer Farm Festival - Aitkin, MN

Thu, Aug 10: Growing Community - LIttle Falls, MN

Thu, Aug 10: Meet Your Makers - Dundas, MN

Sun, Aug 27: Clover Valley Farm Fest - Two Harbors, MN

Sat, Sep 9: Butcher's Dinner & Barn Dance - Finlayson, MN

Sat, Sep 16: Harvest Star - New London-Spicer, MN

Sat, Sep 23: Deep Roots Festival - Richville, MN

You'll also find our Come & Get It! blog , where you can read about the importance of agritourism and the history of the Come & Get It! project, as well as more to come about the community events as they happen! Go to the site now to learn more about our hard-working agritourism teams across the state!

Questions? Contact Matt at [email protected] or 612-483-0286.

Minnesota State Fair

See who's joining us in the Eco Experience building!

We have a wonderful lineup of cooking demos and regional food businesses sampling their products and telling their stories—what drives them to work so hard at what they do. Please join us in welcoming them, and check out the schedule so you don't miss your faves!

We want to take a moment to thank The Meatery, who will be our sampling partner every single day of the fair, from 9am to 3pm!

Their story starts like this:

Our family runs a multi-generational livestock and crop farm in Minnesota Lake, MN. At the height of the pandemic, it was devastating to witness meat packer shutdowns that flipped the efficient meat industry’s supply chain upside down. As meat cases at large chain grocery stores went empty, we knew we needed to create a new way to directly connect folks to quality meat while supporting the people who make them. Read more...

Volunteer spots are still open! Not only will you get in free, but you also get a limited edition Renewing the Countryside local food organic cotton t-shirt!

Volunteer shifts average three hours and are available every day of the Fair, Aug. 24 - Sept. 4, from 9am to 7:30pm. And whether you're handing out samples, helping with kids' activities, or assisting with the cooking demos, you'll have a memorable time and a great day at the Fair!


Farmland Access

Check out our series of videos with Harry and Jackie Hoch highlighting different features of their diversified orchard, gardens, and value-added processing operation as they continue to search for the right person to carry on this productive farm. Shown above is a feature on their raspberries.

That, and other farm transition stories are available on the Farmland Access Hub Transitions page. The newest addition is from a Wadena, MN farmer seeking a young farmer or forester with sustainable ideals. 

One of the difficulties in working on non-family farm transitions is that it doesn't happen often. And without successful examples, it is difficult to understand how such a transfer can work. That's why we were excited to read "Passing on the Farm," the story by Julie Little in the Root River Current that details how a retired farmer worked out a mutually beneficial solution with his beginning-farmer neighbors. 



RTC is excited to begin working with USDA and other partners to promote urban agriculture and gardening in the Twin Cities. Our goal is to support the great work that people across the metro area are doing to promote urban food growing, whether through community gardens, youth farm programming, urban farms, or otherwise. Over the coming months and years, we will be hosting a range of activities—from micro-grants for urban farmers and community gardens, to urban farm tours, to land access support and small-business training. Stay tuned for more!


Farmers Market Food Hubs

The Farmers Market Hubs are working hard to map their impact on Minnesota's regional foodsheds.

As they each connect with more farms and schools, we'll add local food infrastructure updates to provide the most current information. How fun it will be to see this map grow, as it means more ways to move local food around the state of Minnesota!

View our interactive map to see how the hubs are bringing local food to your community! 


Artisan Grains

We were delighted to participate at Kernzafest 2023 last weekend in Stockholm, Wisconsin along with friends like the Forever Green Initiative, Marbleseed, Albert Lea Seed, and the Artisan Grain Collaborative.

Organized by the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance, there were information tables, samples of Kernz pasta and cookies (courtesy of Hop, Dish, Vine in Stockholm), Tattersall Distillery's new Kernza Whiskey, and Kernza sourdough from Doughp Creations. A panel discussion about the past, present and future of Kernza included our own Sara George, shown below (right) with LOCAL FEAST! editor Marlene Petersen (left).

Don't know what Kernza® is? Learn more here

By the way, this was one of our first opportunities to share our new event signage and mascot companion! This Rooster is GOING PLACES, and if you follow us on Facebook you might see a contest coming soon to NAME THE ROOSTER! 

Also, catch us next at Minnesota Farmfest when Matt Barthelemy and Marlene Petersen will be joining our friends from Agricultural Utilization Research Institute in Morgan, MN, Aug 1-3!

FEAST! Local Foods

Now's your chance to be in volume 6 of LOCAL FEAST! magazine...
Are you looking to reach new customers? Give LOCAL FEAST! magazine a try. With distribution from Duluth to Des Moines and Madison to Mankato, our nonprofit publication shares your story with 50,000+ food-loving readers.   

LOCAL FEAST! also has a new look in store to go with our fresh bevy of articles, from the importance of safeguarding seeds to the significance of sustainable fishing for Indigenous tribes along Lake Superior. Look for these local stories (and more) from the ground up in October!

Learn more at local-feast.org/magazine

FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace runs from 10am to 4pm, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023 at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minn. Regional food businesses who register by August 31st receive a discount and priority booth placement.

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

Aug. 4 Soil Sisters Share

Are you a woman ready to explore taking the first steps toward your dream of starting a farm?

Are you already up and running on your farm and looking to connect with other women committed to sustainability, local food and community building?

Come for this Soil Sisters tradition: a day inspiring day of advice, ideas and seasoned perspectives from the Wisconsin Soil Sisters, an innovative network of local women championing organic and sustainable agriculture in their community.

The day will include opportunities to personally connect with women experts from a range of organizational resources as well as an in-depth farm tour with our host, Chelsea Chandler of Plowshares & Prairie Farm in Argyle, Wisconsin (about an hour southwest of Madison).

Go Farm Connect

In the coming months and years, RTC’s 30 connectors will be hosting field days to introduce Historically Underserved farmers to conservation practices and USDA programs and services. Not all connectors have prior experience organizing and hosting a field day, so we a training day for connectors to observe how a field day is set up in terms of signage, agenda, and what amenities are needed to create a welcoming environment. 

This field day featured a conservationist leading a walk through the farmland to identify conservation concerns and recommend potential practices/solutions. Having this experience will help our connectors speak from a place of greater experience when advising other farmers on the advantages of working with NRCS, and what that process looks like.  

Above, left: discussion in the shade; right: RTC staffer Hannah Lewis with Moses Momanyi of Kilimo Minnesota and Dawn2Dusk Farms

For questions about Go Farm Connect, contact [email protected]

Wisconsin Women in Conservation

With host Jennifer Nelson of Humble Pie Farm for our West Central region field day last month, we discussed conservation plans, grazing, and communed with the goats! 


Catch our next Conservation Summer Camp lunch webinar: Creating a Habitat for Bats on Thursday, August 17 at noon CT, where we'll hear from Wisconsin DNR conservation biologist Heather Haarakka of the Wisconsin Bat Program.

More about WiWiC


Staff Moment(s)

We've been so busy with events this month, and that means more chances for staff to connect with each other!

For example, Sara George recently got a tour of the Peace Gardens in Minneapolis' Rondo neighborhood that Melvin Giles fosters for community use, including the one in his own yard! Scroll down for a chance to join Melvin and see them yourself!

You may have noticed above, we also shared photos of Sara and Marlene Petersen at Kernzafest, and a photo of staffer Hannah Lewis that was taken BY Sara. If you could zoom in on the WiWiC pic you'd see that Sara, Elena, Jan and Marlene all attended...we all really like each other, can you tell!?

Read more on our staff page


Community Happenings

Join Melvin Giles for a National Afternoon-Out!

Tuesday, Aug. 1

1:30 - 4:30

Peace Sanctuary Garden

851 Aurora Ave

Enjoy the company of neighbors and friends along with delicious food, activities such as a bouncy house, and of course, a chance to learn more about the Peace Gardens!



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.

Application deadline: September 1.
Applications submitted by August 1 are eligible for a $100 discount.
Scholarships will be available—see links below for more info.

Click here for more information about Farm Beginnings.

Click here to apply for Farm Beginnings 2023-2024. 

*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.


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