October 2020 enewsletter


October 2020

It's not time to hunker down yet! Farmers have many end of season responsibilities, and many are celebrating the last outdoor farmers' market of the year tomorrow...

Meanwhile, RTC staff are celebrating another month of progress in our program areas, including Pint Size Produce materials for young eaters (more on that below). We're also celebrating the just-published FEAST! Local Foods Magazine that we produce with our partners at the FEAST! Network. Keep reading for details on that and more!

—the team at Renewing the Countryside

Farmland Access

What does farmland access look like for beginning farmers? It can look so many different ways! One of the farmers we've worked with this year has experienced several of them in a single season! Liberty Hunter has worked on and managed farms for about 10 years, a time during which they saw the challenges and opportunities around the finances and lifestyle of small scale farming, and tried for years to find the right property on their own. "One of the things I wanted to do differently this time around was get more advice from experienced people, farm elders, my previous farm communities, etc. and that's how I came across Renewing the Countryside."

With one of our program's navigator's, Erin Schneider, Liberty has explored a spectrum of opportunities, which have all fallen through for various reasons so far—from farm transition from a retiring farmer, to farm rentals, and an outright buy of property on the market. "Erin has been a wealth of knowledge and connections. She's helped me find a few different realtors to work with in Western WI, helped me with a farm lease question by calling FLAG (Farmers Legal Action Group), and has reviewed and edited business plans. Erin has been a constant listening ear and willing to brainstorm new ideas and different trajectories. Erin's connections run deep in the ag and food world in the Upper Midwest, and that alone has been a huge leg up and has helped with opening doors," Liberty says.
Although Liberty's land access path continues, they're optimistic that the journey they're on with the assistance of our navigator is bringing them closer to the property they've been looking for, on which to graze livestock and grow perennials and trees in Western Wisconsin. 

Learn more about Farmland Access Navigators here

Artisan Grains

You've heard us talk about Kernza®, right?

A new multi-state coalition of researchers, farmers, educators, industry leaders, policy experts, and climate scientists was recently awarded a 5-year, $10 million grant from USDA to scale the research, production, awareness and commercialization of Kernza—the first commercial perennial grain in the United States.

As a perennial, Kernza is planted once and provides several years of harvestable grain. Kernza has a deep root system that provides multiple environmental benefits, including improving water and soil quality and reducing soil erosion. Additionally, research has shown that this new perennial grain can increase farm income due to decreased inputs and costs from reduced tilling, pesticide requirements and nutrient runoff.

The program has a website, Kernza.org, for sharing news and information. To hear directly from some of the project collaborators, check out the recent article from Civil Eats. They interviewed Bang Brewing, The Land Institute, A-Frame Farm, Birchwood Cafe, and Jacob Jungers, assistant professor of agronomy at the U of MN and lead researcher on the grant.

FEAST! Local Foods Network

Did you know that October is National Co-op Month? Grocery co-ops are known for their support of local foods, and among those, Lakewinds Food Co-op has been exemplary. They've been engaged with the happenings of the FEAST! event from the beginning, including participating in a tradeshow panel and donating shopping bags for the festival last year.

Lakewinds gives tens of thousands of dollars in grants to local small-scale farmers every year, and they have a Community Giving Round Up program for organizations that help develop local organic food supply chains. For the month of November, FEAST co-founder Renewing the Countryside will be the Round Up beneficiary, and will be offering FEAST! magazines to Lakewinds customers. Lakewinds supports farmers' markets, farmer education, food business accelerators, and more. If you're in the Twin Cities, or traveling through, be sure to stop by their stores in Richfield, St. Louis Park or Minnetonka, MN.

See a sneak peek of the FEAST! Local Foods Magazine & read more about local foods from the FEAST! Local Foods Scoop e-newsletter.

Farm to School & Early Care

We are excited to share a group of new resources we have created: Pint Size Produce. These were created (in part) in response to feedback Minnesota’s Farm to Early Care network received requesting more bite size, ‘grab and go’ materials.

Pint Size Produce incorporates ideas from a variety of sources, and we hope can provide some supplemental activities for providers using a more comprehensive farm to early care curriculum, or as an introduction to providers who are less familiar.

Each bundle is based on a specific food, and includes an activity plan, a parent handout, and a half-page flier highlighting key information, including where to dig deeper to learn more.

The free materials are available as Powerpoint or PDF files. Our hope is that they are easy to use (and edit!) for providers, families, or anyone looking to explore local food with young kids!

Check them out here: www.pintsizeproduce.org

Women in Ag

What’s New:  RTC and women in Agriculture

This fall ushers in a fresh harvest of new exciting projects for Renewing the Countryside’s women in agriculture portfolio. We’re kicking off multi-year projects in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that will increase outreach of their conservation programs to women and other historically underserved farmer groups in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Check out the new 2020 edition of the FEAST! Local Foods Magazine for an article on the history and impacts of Soil Sisters, now a project of RTC that comes with a ten-year history of local women’s organizing in southern Wisconsin. We look forward to expanding to new networks into 2021!


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 and 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 and sharing stories of rural renewal, providing practical assistance and networking opportunities for those working to improve rural America, and fostering connections between urban and rural people.

Renewing the Countryside

Facebook  Twitter logo  instagram-100px.png