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Lettuce, Think About It

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Lettuce, Think About It

Last night I sat down to write a blog post. I started with lettuce in mind and instead ended up writing about how much I love North Dakota winters. I’m not crazy, really. I’ve just been working with a lot of really great people lately. You see, I’ve been working with the local foods people.

When I work with folks who grow vegetables or raise pastured livestock, I find myself empowered. There is just something that is catching.

Albeit, my passions include food and nature, but there is more to it than that. These small producers are like poetry in motion. They are the change they want to see in the world.

Food people are good people. And the more I experience their unwavering optimism and unrivaled tenacity, the more I am in awe.

I secretly (or maybe openly) want to be like them. In ways, maybe I already am. Maybe that is why I feel their optimism the way I do.

So maybe it makes sense that I sit down to write about growing food and end up writing about what a wonderful place I have come to call home, even if it is crazy cold.

Here in North Dakota we just broke through a viscous cold snap, delivered straight from the arctic tundra.

It’s the first week in January. And what is my Facebook feed buzzing about? Discussions of seeds, garden planning, greenhouses, and new opportunities.

It makes me know that life is good. Truly.

It lets me know that all things are possible.

It gives me courage. When I purchase lettuce from the store that is less than mediocre, I know there is something I can do.

I can grow!

I can grow lettuce!

You see, this is really the point that I come full circle.

I grew up watching my grandparents garden, but did not have much practical know-how when I began gardening. I had a bit of a rocky start.

I planted my first garden in the summer of 2008, but I was no longer living in the Midwest. I was on the high plains of Wyoming, at an altitude of 7,165 feet. The summer was short. The air was dry. The nights were chilly.

I started out by planting snow peas, radishes, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, spinach, kohlrabi, and lettuce.

The dog ate 75% of the peas. The radishes were woody. Early in September the frost came and we enjoyed a harvest dinner of fried green tomatoes and sauteed baby squash. The eggplants were infested with aphids (I shudder, just thinking about that experience). The spinach went to seed by early July.  And it turned out that I really don’t care from kohlrabi.

That pretty much leaves the lettuce. Oh, my sweet precious lettuce!

I planted at least twelve different varieties in a partially shady area next to the neighbor’s garage. I grew green leaf, red leaf, some varieties were pale green and others were purple. Some had leaves shaped like oaks. They were anything but plain old lettuce. They were beautiful.

We harvested frequently and planted new seeds often. I’d go out at dusk to water and sing to them. (Okay, I didn’t quite have the courage to sing… I hummed to them.) I cried the night we got hit with a hailstorm. And I had a full blown anxiety attack when a crew repaired the neighbor’s garage roof. I picked shingles and roofing nails out of my lettuce garden for months to come.

While I melted down, the lettuce rebounded.

They certainly provided us with a summer of delicious salads. But there was something more to it.

They gave me hope. They assured me that I could grow something. They brought me joy. Pure and simple. I loved seeing them.

And somehow I forgot that?

I did not grow lettuce last year. I don’t know why.

I made room for spinach and kale and chard, but I neglected my wonderful old standby.

Then one chilly North Dakota evening, I curled up on the couch with a blanket and some of my favorite light reading material: the seed catalogs.

My absolute favorite to look at is the Seed Savers Exchange. Catalog_FREE_2014_1This catalog offers heirloom varieties of seeds. As they were passed down from generation to generation, the seeds became attached to family stories. There are unique varieties of tomatoes, squash, peppers, onions, potatoes, and even lettuce.

So I was browsing through the catalog, trying to be quite sensible about what the garden might look like this year. Then, I came to lettuce.

Aunt Mae's Bibb Lettuce

Aunt Mae’s Bibb Lettuce

I was physically stunned. I ooh-ed and aah-ed over the variety.

Rossa di Trento

Rossa di Trento

I adored the colors and imagined the textures.

Pablo, oh, Pablo

Pablo, oh, Pablo

I tried to regain my composure.

Yugoslavian Red

Yugoslavian Red

How could we ever eat all the lettuce I wanted to grow?

Forellenschluss

Forellenschluss

Maybe I need a support group or something…

Baquieu

Baquieu

Obsessed Gardeners Anonymous?

Wait, maybe I do have a support group…

Something clicked. In October I began taking a class called Farm Beginning through FARRMS. A non-profit within the state that “Grows Farmers,” so to speak. 

In the class, we learn about holistic management, food safety, and business planning. We learn how to pull our crazy ideas together and get moving on our dreams.

So maybe I don’t need professional help regarding my obsession with lettuce.

Winter Density Lettuce

Winter Density Lettuce

What I need is a business plan and a greenhouse!

I’m going to grow lettuce! We don’t have to eat it all ourselves!

I could sell it at the farmers market. I could supply a local restaurant.

Maybe I could even sell it to the grocery store and solve the problem of less than mediocre lettuce in the winter once and for all!

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Building Leadership for Local Foods Development

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Building Leadership for Local Foods Development

It is that time of year, when many of us North Dakotans are delighted to find an abundance of fresh produce making an appearance at our farmers market.

Bismarck's newest farmers market, BisMarket

Bismarck’s newest farmers market, BisMarket

Small scale producers and specialty crop farmers are meeting the demand for fresh, locally grown produce with a variety of early crops ranging from farm fresh eggs, baked goods, strawberries, radishes, lettuces, broccoli, and swiss chard.

Farm fresh crops ready for CSA delivery.  Photo by Annie Carlson of Morning Joy Farms.

Farm fresh crops ready for CSA delivery. Photo by Annie Carlson of Morning Joy Farms.

Soon, they will satisfy our craving for tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and peppers as well.

Produce from Dwight Duke's Skyline Ranch stand at the Farmers Market

Produce from Dwight Duke’s Skyline Ranch stand at the Farmers Market

Beyond a doubt, these farmers do amazing work!

Happy Landings Farm stand at the North Prairie Farmers Market

Happy Landings Farm stand at the North Prairie Farmers Market

This is the time of year when the local foods economy of North Dakota really shines. Consumers are increasingly concerned with how their food is produced and where it comes from. New and existing producers have opportunities to grow their business and enter new markets. Each year, there are more farmers markets, producers, and consumer demand. The production of locally grown produce is a growing industry in North Dakota, with unlimited potential for growth and community development.

North Star Farms delivers CSA shares to its customers.

North Star Farms delivers CSA shares to its customers.

However, taking initial steps to grow a business means venturing into unknown territory. A world of information about business planning, market opportunities, marketing techniques, food safety, good agricultural practices, and distribution logistics awaits the aspiring small-scale farmer or farmers market manager. While there are various resources for new and existing producers through the Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture, North Dakota Department of Agriculture Local Foods Initiative, and North Dakota State University Extension Service, many of the specifics details for successful endeavors in the local foods industry are related to the economic situation of each community.

There is a need to build leadership to further develop the role of local foods throughout North Dakota. 

Photo by Sarah Smith Warren

Photo by Sarah Smith Warren

There is an opportunity for you to get involved and do just that!

This year, North Dakota State University Extension Service received funding from the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program to provide training and professional development for community leadership for economic development in local foods.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Do you have an idea or potential opportunity forming in your mind?

Does your community have a local foods project just waiting to take root?

Would this project benefit from enhanced community building and networking among local foods professionals? 

Would you like to develop your leadership skills to better engage with small-scale producers and local foods consumers?

This professional development opportunity is open to educators, farmers and producers, concerned citizens, and food entrepreneurs who are interested in learning to respond to the needs of local small scale farmers specializing in vegetables, fruit, eggs, cheese, and meat. Participants may apply individually or as a community team to collaborate through a series of workshops.

Sessions*These topics will be tailored to specifically address the needs of the participants.

During these sessions, participants will develop their local project that supports building the small farm economic community and/or enhancing the role of local foods. They will then receive ongoing support from session instructors and partners as well support dollars to implement their project.

If you or someone in your community is interested in participating in this program, please contact one of the coordinators soon. The sessions begin in August and space is limited. There is no cost for participation and travel stipends are available.

For more information contact one of the following:

Rachel Brazil at Rachel.brazil@ymail.com

Karen Ehrens at karen@ehrensconsulting.com

Abby Gold at Abby.Gold@ndsu.edu

Glenn Muske at glenn.muske@ndsu.edu

Planting the Seeds of a Local Foods Movement

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Planting the Seeds of a Local Foods Movement

Convening with others at the 2013 Dakota Grown Farmers Market and Local Foods Conference made me realize that the most vibrant local foods systems grow from the ground up through collaborative relationships. The local foods movement in North Dakota and throughout the country is driven by a variety of people with varied motivations for a common cause. Often, motivations are health related. Individuals and families want access to fresh and healthy food. They want a diversity of food choices available. This group includes both urbanites who have access to specialty co-ops and CSAs as well as rural families who have to drive more than 10, 20, or 50 miles to even get to a large grocery store.

Photograph from the Northern Plains Sustainable Agricultural Society

Others are motivated for environmental reasons, they are uncomfortable with the reliance current conventional agricultural systems have on fossil fuels, pesticides, herbicides, and irrigated water. They see their choices in the food they eat as a powerful stance against environmental degradation.

Photograph from the Northern Plains Sustainable Agricultural Society

A third reason people make the choice for local foods is the economic benefits for communities. Produce available in commercial grocery stores can be expensive. Some choose to grow their own food to help off set food costs. Others would rather pay 5.99 a pound for kale or Swiss chard if it was grown by someone in the community. The economics of local foods benefit small family farms and food business, but it also adds the value of relationships. Buying local foods builds resiliency in communities.

The one thing that people from each of these categories (or others I failed to include) have in common is that they are creating a demand for fresh, whole foods grown and produced in their region, state, and community. They are the consumers. They are driving the system. They are the main ingredient for building a local foods movement in an community. They are the seeds in the soil, they are the feet on the ground.

If you are one of these people, please know that you have influence in so many ways. The first thing you can do is find others in your community and share your concerns, interests, and hopes. Find folks who have similar ideas. No matter how small or large the town is, no matter where your community is on the path to increasing access to local foods, there is the potential for local foods to be a greater part of your community.

One example is the story of Sheyenne, North Dakota. This is a tiny town of just 200 people. A few years ago a young girl wanted to start selling the produce from her garden. Her mother helped her make a plan, they connected with an older couple who also had a bumper crop and a high school girl with a talent for baking. A farmers market was created and continues to grow, as does a community garden and orchard. Each Saturday, community members visit the farmers market, visit, snack on home baked goods, buy produce for the week, and catch up with their neighbors. On Monday nights, many of the same community members spend time in the community garden, tending to plants, pulling weeds, and finding fellowship and a sense of community. These simple acts of including local foods as a community priority grow over time.

Photo by Sarah Smith Warren

Photo by Sarah Smith Warren

But sometimes even the grandest efforts can hit a standstill. From my experience, standstills happen because a shortage of resources. Sometimes the resources are economic. Some communities get stuck and find themselves saying, if we just had the money to do this… Sometimes the resources are social and communities find themselves looking at each other saying, we just need someone to do that…

Both issues become an issue of capacity. A new avenue must be taken, to either secure resources or pursue education. This is where tapping into the larger networks is invaluable. North Dakota is a vast state and support can sometimes be hundreds of miles away. We live in a digital age, and so much can be shared through email and social media. With a little work, needs can be documented, assistance can be found, and progress can be underway. In addition, sharing the burdens of roadblocks opens the lines of communication and help develop truly viable plans.

This being an area I am experienced in, I know how difficult it can seem to figure out the next step. My mantra for capacity building is, “Focus on what you do well, and make small steps to make it better.” Keep in mind that “better” is a relative term and to fully get a sense of what is “better” for a community, it is imperative to get community member input. With true collaboration, expansion will come in time, like a blossoming flower. Again, please feel free to share some of your challenges or concerns for your community in the comments area below. Be sure to reach out and explore the resources below and consider what could benefit your community in dynamic ways.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

Purple Beans

Again, this is not a definitive list of resources for community projects in local foods. It is simply a starting point. Additional resources and support can be found at the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, the North Dakota Farmers Market & Growers Association, the Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture, the Northern Plains Sustainable Agricultural Society, or your local NSDU extension office or research center.

Review the 2012 Local Foods Directory- The 2013 directory is being prepared for the upcoming growing season. In the mean time, this is a great starting point to identify markets and producers in your area.

Start a Hunger Free North Dakota Garden Project- Grow a Hunger Free Garden and donate extra produce to area food banks to increase access to fresh healthy foods. Steps to start a community garden can be found here.

Find the Best Seeds for Your Region- North Dakota does not have the most forgiving climate when it comes to growing plants. We have a short growing season. The chances for frost continue last into the year (around May 20) and begin early in the fall (about September 10). The season can be critically dry or overly wet. Some varieties of crops will do better than others for our region. In fact, there is a seed farm right here in North Dakota that produces a variety of vigorous vegetable seeds. I highly recommend them at Prairie Road Organic Seed.

Start a Community Orchard-The North Dakota Dept of Ag put together a fantastic resource on creating a community orchard of fruit and nut trees.

Start a Farm-to-School Program- Build relationships between youth, schools, and area farmers and provide children access to local, healthy and nourishing foods. Learn more about this nationwide grass-roots movement to develop community support and awareness about local food systems.

Understand the Regulations for the Production and Sale of Poultry and Livestock- If you are interested in integrating the production of poultry and livestock into your local foods community, it is essential that you understand the North Dakota meat laws and regulations. ND Century Code §36-24 andND Administrative Code §7-13 require that meat or meat food products offered for sale must be safe and wholesome. To prevent contamination, meat must be prepared under sanitary conditions, and the equipment used must be suitable for the product being sold. Requirements differ depending on the type and degree of meat slaughtering/processing and sales of products involved. The different types of meat businesses include custom exempt, retail exempt, official slaughtering, official processing establishments, or combinations of these. This document provides information on the guidelines for opening a meat-processing business. 

Get Familiar with Farm to Market Strategies- This brochure provides an in depth look at the opportunities to sell farm grown produce or livestock, as well as any regulations or requirements to do so.  Get familiar with topics such as business licensing, sales tax collection and permitting, and food safety and health districts.

Find Grants for Sustainable Agriculture-The program for Sustainable Agriculture Education & Research is a great resource for organizations looking to build their capacity for sustainable action through professional development and program enhancement.

Explore Opportunities for Growing Specialty CropsThe North Dakota Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the 2013 Request for Proposals for the Specialty Crop Block Program. Applications are due May 24, 2013. Specialty crops are defined in law as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” This includes a vast array of products, ranging from apples and asparagus to sweet potatoes and spinach. Projects should benefit the specialty crop industry and/or the public rather than a single organization, institution, individual or commercial product. Single organizations, institutions, and individuals are eligible to participate as project partners.

Conduct a Variety Trail There are many varieties to choose from to grow each year. When we choose what we want to grow each year, we might look at variety traits such as the height of the plant, how many days to maturity, and its yield. If you live in an area with a short growing season, like North Dakota you’ll also want to be sure that the varieties you select to grow have early season vigor, grow quickly, mature early, and yield well. There are opportunities to conduct variety trails. This past year, Marv Baker of North Star Farms in Caprio, ND did just that. At North Star Farms, they planted and monitored 14 varieties of carrots and then did a taste testing to determine the right variety for their farm and their customers.

Explore Opportunities in Agri-Tourism-  Agri-tourism is one of the buzzwords of our day. Agritourism is the practice of inviting guests to visit and/or participate in normal farm or ranch activities. Farms and ranches participating in agritourism activities are most often working farms and ranches, and tourism activity is a secondary income for the family. Explore the opportunities to see if there is room for you to integrate agritourism into your local foods community!

Finding a Niche in a Local Foods Network

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Finding a Niche in a Local Foods Network

My mind is still processing so much from my experience at the 2013 Dakota Grown Farmers Market & Local Foods Conference that I attended on Friday April 11 in Bismarck. While the topics were interesting, I benefited most from the opportunity for networking. I saw so many wonderful friends and met amazing people doing admirable and ambitious work. I heard their stories. I shared mine.

And while I tried to do some live real-time blogging from the event, I found that I couldn’t very well function as a fly on the wall with the purpose of relaying what I heard in the sessions. I’m not a reporter, I’m a storyteller. And while I’m not very good at making up stories (even for my kids), I do have a knack for picking up on interesting patterns through social connections. I can interpret and present those complex relationships in thought provoking ways.

In fact, the whole reason I started this blog in November 2012 was to share a story– my story of recovery and growth. But my story is never just mine alone. There are many characters involved. Characters who have been influential in my process of creating myself as an independent entrepreneur with specialized knowledge related to sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and community development as well as skills in art and writing. It took a lot for me to get to this point, as it does for anyone trying to find their niche.

The past year has been a dynamic one for me. I could certainly share the details of losing a parent, becoming aware of my own unhealthy patterns, and resigning from my position in college-level administration, but really the exciting parts began when I made the choice to lead my life with consciousness. I wanted to live my life through my passions– food, art, nature. I wanted to grow and flourish each day.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”   ~Rumi

After leaving my job, I took several months off and focused on working on myself and my health. Each morning, my boys and I would go outside, let the chickens out, and work in the garden. I worked on living in the moment, appreciating each and everyone. I worked on nourishing myself by putting energy into the things that would most greatly benefit me and my family.

I learned to accept and be still, just like our retired hunting dog did when we got chickens.

I learned to accept and be still, just like our retired hunting dog did when we got chickens.

As I got stronger, I wanted to share my passion with others in the world. But I was still new in town. I didn’t know many others that understood the amazing experiences I had while observing the flock, collecting eggs, harvesting eggplants, or pickling cucumbers. Finally, I got brave. I made up batches of yellow tomato jam, apple butter, and jalapeno jelly. I harvested fresh herbs and sunflowers, then wrapped them and priced them. I went to the Sheyenne Farmers Market as a vendor.

Sheyenne is a tiny little town, north of where I live in New Rockford. The other vendors there included a older couple who sold their surplus of produce, melons, and the most amazing raspberries, two teenage sisters selling the bounty from their garden and the baked goods of their kitchen, one woman selling farm fresh eggs, and another selling cookies and jams. I was surprised to find I fit! I was welcomed and considered a part of the group. We had a wonderful time and made a good number of sales. I was hooked. Next year, I will plan on being a vendor there, every week I can.

This acceptance I received at the Sheyenne Farmers Market gave me the courage to make the next steps- to start building my connections and marketing my skills in grant writing and consulting. I was slowly getting my energy back. I was healing from intense grief. I was recovering from exhaustion and burn-out. I was getting back on my feet.

I built a relationship with the local librarian and started going to the monthly bookclubs. Again too, I was welcomed and accepted, even if I was 20-30 years younger than most of the other members. I began building a visual framework for a business plan, an exciting creative endeavor guided by the Right-Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee. Again, I got brave. I made an appointment to share by business ideas with the executive director of the New Rockford Area Betterment Corporation.I was terrified, but knew I needed to take the step. And what a wonderful step it was. I not only left with encouragement, I left with a new friend and ally in my endeavors. With her encouragement, I started this blog. It was November 2012. Winter was on its way and my mind was to be far from my garden for sometime. But, I was able to awaken and nurture my writing skills and my long lost artistic interests and talents. By January, I began a project with the Dakota Prairie Regional Center for the Arts in establishing a space for artist consignment and retail. I managed the project and with a good group of dedicated volunteers. We opened the Upstage Gallery on April 5, 2013.

Artworks on display at DPRCA Upstage Gallery. This is the first long-term project I've been involved in since I left my day job in July 2012.

Artworks on display at DPRCA Upstage Gallery. This is the first long-term project I’ve been involved in since I left my day job in July 2012.

In the meantime, I had gotten brave again. I wanted to build my larger networks. I planned to attend the Dakota Grown Conference. I asked if they’d like to have a blogger there to cover the event. When I arrived, I was greeted by familiar faces from years before. Hugs were given, along with updates on personal and professional projects. This was my third time attending the conference. But I was a different person than last time. I was no longer the Vice President of Land Grant Programs. I was Rachel Brazil, an independent professional.

Being true to myself, I found that I’m likely to find others who understand and support my personal and professional journey. I was in awe. So many people had so many stories related to food, agriculture, and activism throughout the state. The local foods network in North Dakota is vibrant and vital, in so many ways. There are farmers and growers, producing food for the market. There are professionals in the non-profit and educational sectors with abundant resources. There are consumers, dedicated to building their own networks in which they can gain access to local foods. Many fall into more than one of these category, as they should. Because after all, we are all consumers. And we are all active through our daily and life choices. Where ever you might be in this network now, I encourage you to read the brief bios and summaries below, browse the links provided below. Share your goals in terms of your involvement with local foods, make contacts, and make steps to where you want to go.

As for me, I’ll continue building my business as an independent consultant and grant writer, who also grows a big garden, raises chickens, and ducks, sells at the community farmers market, as well as draws, paints, and loves photography. Some day I’d like to expand, buy land, have goats and a couple pigs, have a green house and grow greens year around, and invite guests for a stay at a Bistro Farm Bed & Breakfast. Someday. But, how about you? Feel free to leave comments!

The list below is by no means a definitive list. It is a overview of many of the people I met, talked to, or listened to at the 2013 Dakota Grown Farmers Market & Local Foods Conference. Additional information, resources, and grower information can be found through the North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture Local Foods Initiative.

Resources for new, existing, and potential growers-

Northern Plains Sustainable Ag- This grassroots educational organization helps Northern Plains farmers convert their farms to organic systems, increase the region’s land grant research in organic and sustainable agriculture, protect the integrity of the organic label, promote healthy trade relationships in the organic industry, and develop local food systems.

Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture- The Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture is located at Dakota College at Bottineau and assists small to mid-size farmers and gardeners produce organic and specialty vegetables for sale. They provide technical assistance in marketing, business strategies and production for all types of vegetables.

NDSU Extension Services-  Within each county are extension personnel with the purpose to extend education to North Dakota residents of all ages and walks of life. They offer a special emphasis on strengthening agriculture and developing the potential of youth, adults and communities.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program- There is an increasing effort to make fresh local foods available to all people. A few farmers markets in North Dakota accept SNAP Benefits from their customers, but there is an opportunity for many more. Including assistance to cover the cost of the equipment.

FARRMS- FARRMS was founded in 2000 to address specific educational needs of organic producers and processors and to promote sustainable rural development in the Medina community and beyond. FARRMS empowers people to dream and realize those dreams creating thriving, exciting, diverse, and sustainable rural communities. They establish links between people, good food, living farms and the environment through hands-on educational experiences. They model sustainability by acting with appreciation and respect for the environment, society, and just economics. FARRMS builds a better world through powerful, creative actions.

Growers and Producers

North Star Farms Caprio, ND– Specializing in certified organic produce and community supported agriculture. North Star Farms is run by Marv and Ilene Baker who are both involved with the North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association and help begin the North Prairie Farmers Market in Minot.

Riverbound Farms Mandan, ND– A certified organic vegetable farm south of Mandan that grows ten acres of more than 40 different crops. The farm is run by Brian and Angie McGinness. Brian spoke on a panel about getting specialty crops to market.

Roving Donkey Farm Bismarck, ND– This small farm specializes in a variety of greens year around. It is run by Lori Martin, with the help of her three year old daughter. She spoke on a panel about building customer relationships.

Morning Joy Farm Mercer, ND–  Jon and Annie Carlson started Morning Joy Farms began in 2008, by growing and selling vegetables at a local farmers market.  The next year, they began a vegetable CSA and continued to sell at the market.  Pastured poultry and eggs were added to the CSA in 2010 and pastured turkeys in 2011.  The demand for their pastured chicken, turkeys and eggs was so strong that the decision was made to devote the farm to grass-based meat production.  In 2012, pastured pork and grass-fed lamb were added to the Morning Joy Farm product line.

Garden Dwellers Farm, Esmond, ND– Holly and Barry Mawby grow and sell a variety of herbs. They also offer a variety of learning opportunities on their farm.

There are many many more around, some have been operating for years. Others are just getting started. I encourage you to do what you can to build relationships with small scale farmers such as these listed above. Truly the best way to get involved in the local foods movement is to know your farmer and know your food.

Consumers and Concerned Citizens-

I certainly fall into this category, as do many of the people I listed above. There are others though too, at work on the ground and on the internet. They are building this movement from the ground up in their own communities. They are starting farmers markets in tiny towns. They are going to the state legislature with expressing their support for maintaining cow shares as a legal route to have access to raw milk. They are educating the public on food choices. They are creating food cooperatives. They are creating their stories everyday. They are making their own way by making food choices for themselves and their families that are sustainable and healthy. They each have a growing niche in this network that I am proud to be a part of.

Heidi Demars and Rachel Brazil talking food, education, and community development. Meeting like-minded folks was by far the highlight of my experience at the conference

Heidi Demars and Rachel Brazil talking food, education, and community development. Meeting like-minded folks was by far the highlight of my experience at the conference