October 2022 News


October 2022


Here's hoping you've had a chance to enjoy the fall colors and plenty of outdoor events! We're transitioning out of field days—with a couple last ones coming up this week (see below). For many of us, the growing season has mostly wrapped up.

Maybe you had a chance to put up a few jars of pickles, tomatoes, fruit preserves or maybe time ran out?

Luckily for all of us we have the FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace to make up the difference. Come to Rochester on November 5th from 10-4 to pick up some of those pantry items for the long winter months or maybe as holiday gifts. More details below!

—the team at Renewing the Countryside

Local Foods

We've queued up a great celebration of local foods for this year's FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace, Saturday, Nov. 5th in Rochester, MN.

It's the 9th annual festival, featuring samples and sales from a wide range of farms and food businesses who source from regional farms. There's something for everyone!

  • Chef demos
  • Kids activities
  • Giveaways + voting for "People's Choice" best in show
  • Much, much more!

Volume five of the Local FEAST! magazine is on newsstands now, and acts as a companion to the event, sharing stories about efforts to build and grow local food systems.

Find new treats to add to your holiday gatherings and sustainably-grown local fare to fill your pantry. Advance tickets on sale now at discount prices!

Interested in being part of FEAST!? Come volunteer with us! It’s fun, you’ll get a free ticke to explore the festival, and you’ll help to make this annual community event a success.

Farm to School

In September, Renewing the Countryside was excited to staff a table and bring back the Veggie Grand Prix (shown at right) to the annual MPS Culinary & Wellness Services annual Farm to School Community BBQ— a celebration of local food in our district and community!

We enjoyed visiting with children, families, teachers and staff. The Farm to School BBQ brings together MPS families and staff, farmers, chefs, local leaders, and community members for a fun, food-filled evening in September. This free outdoor event included delicious local foods, fun hands-on activities, live music, a corn-shucking contest, and more.

Bringing the Farm to School Training for Producers

November 14, 12:00-1:30 p.m.

Members of Minnesota's Farm to School Leadership Team will give an overview of how farmers can fit into Farm to School programs and discuss need-to-know topics such as food safety; product standards, packaging and pricing; legalities and restrictions; and communicating with school food service directors. English, Spanish, and Hmong versions will be recorded and available at a later date.

Register Here

Artisan Grains

September was Whole Grains Month, and staffer Elena Byrne joined the Whole Grains Council for a conversation about grains in her role as Communications Manager for the Artisan Grain Collaborative. The conversation included a walk through the searchable member map on AGC's website (shown above). Take a peek!


Do you have 5-7 minutes to let us know about how you think about and purchase grains?At the end, you can ENTER A DRAWING to win $50 worth of Midwest-grown and processed grain goodies from AGC members!

AGC's 2022 Grain Views & Habits Survey is an effort to build a dataset where we can look at knowledge, attitudes and purchasing habits over time, and the more responses we get, the more impactful the results, so please share widely!


Farmers Market Food Hub

Allison Rian, Willilyn Dowell, and Kristine Jonas with the AlliCat Farm bus.

Three women, all from different areas of Northern Minnesota, have been working together on the MN Farmers’ Market Food Hubs project for the past year, and when they got an opportunity to sell thousands of locally grown apples to schools in the Northern MN region, they got together and figured out exactly how to make it happen. This was a process that took planning, relationship building, and follow up to accomplish, but is worth it in the long run in terms of benefits to local schools, local food producers, and the communities of upper northeast Minnesota.

Rian and her family picked up the apples from Dave Gilbertson, owner of Gliby’s Orchard in Aitkin, MN. They loaded their farm’s bus with over 50 boxes of Honey Crisp and Sweet Tango apples, the equivalent of 5300 apples!

Rian met up with Dowell and Jonas in Hibbing by noon, and the trio had to get all of the apples distributed by end of the school day before staff went home. It was a tight schedule, and everyone had their part to contribute, all between dropping their own kids off at school, and tending to their own operations.

Working with the Minnesota FMFH project gave these businesswomen the tools they needed to bring top quality product (MN’s own Sweet Tango apple) to their local schools. Working together, they made it happen. On this particular day, they delivered over 5300 apples for the thirteen area schools!

Read the full story at mfma.org


Conservation Connections

For a glimpse of some of our recent conservation activities, check out this coverage of the field day at Robert Pierce's farm from ABC news in Madison, WI.

This is all part of a larger effort by the USDA to better represent diversity among farmers.

"Main thing for myself is soil," Robert Pierce, a local farmer, said. "If you have healthy soil, you have healthy plants."

Pierce is the owner of Half the 40 Acres Farm, the host of Wednesday evening's event.

"The USDA wants to do better outreach to historically underserved groups," Lisa Kivirist with Renewing the Countryside, said. "And that means more creative things, it means you're trying some different models, doing this peer to peer education, like Robert's doing."

Keep reading...


Farmland Access

Join us for an Open House and Discussion on Saturday, October 29, 2022 at the Hoch Orchard & Gardens, as Harry and Jackie Hoch are beginning to look for the next farmers/food entrepreneurs to take over their multi-faceted business enterprises and farm.

Come join us for a tour of the property, learn about the operations, and explore the various options that might be available—from renting to purchasing or partnering in the business enterprises.

The Hochs are working with American Farmland Trust with the goal to make this property affordable to the next generation of farmers.

Farm Tour and Farm Transition Event at Hoch Orchard & Gardens
Saturday, October 29, 2022
Hoch Orchard and Gardens
32553 Forster Road • LaCrescent, MN
3 pm - 5:30 pm

For questions, contact Jan at [email protected] or 612-251-7304

Soil Sisters

Save the date - Thursday, Dec. 1st - for this event by the Women, Food and Agriculture Network in partnership with the Soil Sisters community! WFAN is hosting their Wisconsin Regional Meetup at the Community Kitchen Co-op in Monticello, Wisconsin. Join us in person to connect and cultivate community before we log onto the 2022 virtual conference, Seeding Community: Revolutionary Healing through Cooperative Models. Stay tuned for a registration link!

Minnesota State Fair

For over a decade, Renewing the Countryside and partners have curated a food-related, interactive educational exhibit at the Eco Experience—the award-winning sustainability expo about healthy and sustainable living at the Minnesota State Fair.

We had another awesome 12 days, Aug. 25th through Sept. 5th, for collaboration, community and engagement around local foods, farming and Farm to Early Care programming. Features included an informative display, kids' activity area, three daily cooking demonstrations, and our local food sampling station.

Some of this year’s highlights included: scores of thank you notes from our exhibit’s visitors to farmers and early care providers, samples of Smothered Collard Greens and smoked turkey from Krewe’s Mateo Mackbee (who will be at FEAST!), Rainbow Chinese’s Tammy Wong deciding to introduce FEAST vendor 3 Cricketeer’s crickets into her confetti fried rice recipe for her last demo of the day, great energy from talented students of The Good Acre’s VoCul program, and Simona, who enthusiastically volunteered for 4 shifts!

Many thanks to the scores of volunteers who came out with your time and energy to help make this year a successful and memorable one! Props to Health Partners, Co-op Partners Warehouse and the MN Pollution Control Agency for your supportive partnership.

Missed out on being a part of our efforts at the Fair? Join us as a volunteer at FEAST!


Staff Moment

Staffers Matt Barthelemy and Marlene Petersen attended Food, Ag, Ideas Week in early October for the PitchSlam event and launch of GrowNorth's new Minnesota Naturally effort. Exciting!

It was a great time to connect with many food entrepreneurs as well as agencies and technical assistance providers that are part of our vibrant local foods ecosystem. We're working to connect these businesses to a growing circle of people and community through the FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace festival, tradeshow, and magazine.


staff page

Community Happenings

Minnesota Grown Consumer Survey

Do you buy local? Why or why not? Minnesota growers want to hear from you! Take this short survey to add your thoughts!

The Statewide Cooperative Partnership recently launched this survey to learn about what influences Minnesotans’ shopping decisions. Your input is important! Together, we can put data into action and strengthen our local food system.

The Statewide Cooperative Partnership is a collective effort by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, University of Minnesota, and organizations like Renewing the Countryside to gather data about local and regional markets and create a roadmap for building more equitable access to market opportunities. To learn more, visit mda.state.mn.us/marketing/local-regional-partnership.


Agroforestry Workshop

This workshop will be a fantastic opportunity to to learn more about using, maintaining, and accessing a range of equipment involved in perennial crop production. Guests will also be able to meet and ask questions of sustainable farmers throughout the regenerative farming community.

Thursday, October 27th


Wil Crombie's Organic Compound Farm

Faribault, MN



Nominations are officially open for Marbleseed’s Farmer of the Year and Changemaker Awards

Every year Marbleseed recognizes people and organizations within the regenerative and organic farming community that are contributing toward a robust, inspirational, and inclusive organic farming movement. Community outreach, nominations, and board deliberation guide the selection process and awards are presented at the annual Marbleseed Organic Farming Conference, February 23-25, 2023 in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The Farmer of the Year award recognizes organic farmers who show a strong commitment to organic principles, use innovative practices on their farm, and share their experience to help other organic farmers succeed. The Changemaker award recognizes emerging leaders in the organic farming and food movement who creatively overcome systemic challenges in order to nurture a thriving agricultural future for all.

Nominations are open until November 1.

Emerging Farmers Conference

Mark your calendars!

Nov 12-13, 2022 is the 17th Annual Emerging Farmers Conference—for farmers, by farmers, and led by farmers.

Day 1 will be a day of networking and story-sharing. Day 2 will be a field day with hands-on learning. Space is limited. Register today at emergingfarmers.org



MFMA Virtual Conference

The Minnesota Farmers' Market Association will hold its 2022 Annual Conference virtually, Dec. 7-8.

Learn more and register at mfma.org


*Read past issues of the RTC Rooster on our blog*
Thank you for your support of time, energy, funds, and enthusiasm!

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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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