Category Archives: Farming and Sustainability

Shopping The Farmers Market Safely During COVID-19 + Seasonal Dishes Created With My Bounty From The Mill City Farmers Market

“If you ate today, thank a farmer” ~ Author Unknown

Farmers are the chief essential officers and caretakers of our food supply and they should be celebrated as such. During this pandemic, adaptability and nimbleness have become essential to their survival, and ours. The fallout from COVID-19 has illuminated the critical nature of acquainting ourselves with exactly where our food comes from and how to access it.  Our support for those who grow and source it is imperative.  Farmers markets are categorized as essential grocery providers and have historically been a place for community to gather.  They are the conduit to a healthy diet and now more than ever, they are one of the vital connections that link consumers to their local food chain.

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Tattersall Distilling: Leading The Way In Sustainable Spirits

“If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed.  The vision pulls you” – Steve Jobs

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When we think about sustainability in the food and beverage realm, spirits haven’t typically been at the forefront of what comes to mind.  Until now.  Back in January, I attended the launch event for a USDA certified, Non-GMO organic vodka at Tattersall Distilling in Northeast Minneapolis. From seed to bottle, their vision and commitment to the creation of this ethereal spirit via the use of organic grains is something to be celebrated.  Following that event, I had the opportunity to meet with Co-Founder and Chief Officer, Jon Kreidler for a tour and discussion.  I am thrilled to be able to share the narrative of this organic vodka journey, as well as the various ways that Tattersall Distilling is making sustainable spirit production a central part of their mission.

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Bushel Boy Farms: A Minnesota Story Of Sustainable Agricultural Innovation

“Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people” ~ Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Bushel Boy Farms is at the forefront of innovative indoor agriculture and has been “extending Minnesota’s growing season” for the past 30 years.  Jay Johnson launched this business in Owatonna, Minnesota in 1990. Mr. Johnson began growing high quality tomatoes in his backyard and offering them to locals.  As the demand for his distinctive tomatoes grew, he started selling them via food stands and to grocery stores in town. Bushel Boy amassed a large following and began building green houses in order to expand the thriving business.  In 2018, Bushel Boy Farms was acquired by another Minnesota company, Shakopee-based Rahr Corporation. Rahr has provided the support to expand the assortment within the tomato category, but also look beyond tomatoes. Their drive to build off the rich history of growing premium quality tomatoes, along with the dedication to continue to innovate, has led to perhaps the most exciting 18 months in the company’s history.  What follows is the story of how Bushel Boy Farms came to be one of the most well known and respected produce companies in MN.  

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Chef Danielle Leoni: Global Sustainability Activist and Conduit for Change

“For my whole life, all I’ve wanted is to do good” ~ Chef Danielle Leoni

On a recent trip to Arizona, Executive Chef and Co-owner of The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Danielle Leoni gave me the gift of her time, which happens to be in short supply these days.  We conversed about what launched her path as a chef activist and restaurant owner, as well as the innumerable innovative impacts that she has been making in the world of food.  In particular, her support of local agriculture, school nutrition issues, responsible sourcing of sustainable seafood and her newest business venture, Big Marble Organic Ginger Beer. She exemplifies what it means to have a full plate.   Continue reading Chef Danielle Leoni: Global Sustainability Activist and Conduit for Change

The Liberian Agricultural Project

“I do think this next century, hopefully, will be about a more global view.  Where you don’t just think, yes my country is doing well, but you think about the world at large”   ~Bill Gates

I embrace the opportunity to share stories of local people who are inspiring global change.  I made John Paye’s acquaintance while touring the HAFA Farm in Vermillion, MN in the Fall of 2018.  I was in the initial stages of gathering information for my farm to fork sustainability series.  My articles feature farmers and the restaurateurs/chefs/businesses that source from them.   John was there to gain knowledge regarding how to give life to a project similar to the one HAFA has created in Minnesota.  John’s farm is in Bong County, Liberia which is located on the West African Coast. I recently met with John again to learn about the progress of The Liberian Agricultural Project .  I hope you are as moved by his work as I am.

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Sustainable Travel: 3 Days at CASA MÃE In Lagos, Portugal

“Putting tourism on a sustainable path is a major challenge, but one that also presents a significant opportunity”  ~ Klaus Töpfer

We find travel to be exciting and alluring and John & I derive an indescribable amount of positive energy from immersing ourselves in other cultures. In our daily life, we try  try to live by the adage, “take only memories, leave only footprints.”  This is why the ability to combine our adventures in Lagos, Portugal with a stay at a hotel that shares our passion for sustainability was remarkable in so many ways.

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Farm to Fork Stories: Meet Your Farmer, Tony Root

We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist.”   ~ Wendell Berry

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Farmer Tony Root (Anthony Schaden is his family name).  If you’ve dined at any of the 9 marvelous restaurants within the Bartmann Group this summer, you’ve more than likely experienced the outcome of Tony’s endeavors.  Tony is the farmer in charge of planting, growing and harvesting the bountiful produce exclusively for this restaurant group.  Kim Bartmann leases a 1 acre plot at Riverbend Farm* in Delano, MN and Tony skillfully tends to all of it.  Tony works with the chef’s to coordinate the distribution of the produce to all of these establishments during the summer/fall months.  Kim Bartmann and her team have created a true farm-to-table framework that has been scaled to meet their demand.  Continue reading Farm to Fork Stories: Meet Your Farmer, Tony Root

The Tiny Diner Permaculture Garden: A Sustainable Urban Oasis In Minneapolis

“We will continue to create a new world – seed by seed, person by person, community by community – until this planet is embraced in a circle of resurgent life and resurgent love”  ~ Vandana Shiva (Indian Scholar, Environmental Activist, Food Sovereignty Advocate)

The permaculture garden project at the Tiny Diner is 6 years old.  From the vast array of edible plants, to rain water re-use, to the pollinator gardens and solar panels, the Tiny Diner garden is the quintessential example of the concept of resurgent life.  The meaning of resurgent is “to rise again” and every season the Tiny Diner garden does so with fervor.  It is used to generate energy, nourish customers, share knowledge and build community in the most eco-friendly and sustainable ways possible.

This urban permaculture garden was Kim Bartmann’s vision. Kim is a chef & restaurateur, a positive change agent and a sustainability leader in every sense of the word.  She is a two time James Beard Award semi-finalist and self described “instigator”. She has made significant and inspiring contributions in all areas of sustainablity within the restaurant industry and in the communities that her businesses are located in.  There are 9 restaurants in the Bartmann Group portfolio and all of them have sustainable measures built into their day to day operations.  The Tiny Diner is an amazing representation of the abundant returns that are possible in a small, urban garden space.

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Grape To Glass Sustainability Stories in Monterey County: Scheid Vineyards & District 7 Wines

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world”  ~ Howard Zinn

Farm to fork…Ocean to fork…and vineyard to glass.  We cast our votes in favor of the planet one bite, one sip at a time. Which is why I am thrilled to be able to share the sustainability story of Scheid Family Wines and District 7 Wines

District 7 Wines is just one of the many distinctive labels included in the Scheid Family Wines portfolio. The vineyards are located in Monterey County in California.

“Al Scheid first saw untapped potential in Monterey County in 1972 when the wine region was in its infancy. What started as a grape growing operation that sold 100% of its production to other wineries today has evolved into a grapes-to-glass family business that crafts authentic and elegant wines.  ~ Scheid Family Wines Website

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Farm to Fork Sustainability: The Story Of Skuna Bay Salmon

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water”  ~ Loren Eiseley

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Jeanine Siemens of Skuna Bay/Grieg Seafood.  Skuna Bay is owned by Grieg Seafood and is the premium seafood product that Grieg Seafood produces. I had the good fortune to meet Jeanine at the Women Chef’s and Restaurateurs conference, held in Minneapolis this past April.  I attended a panel discussion called: Skuna Bay From Farm To Table: The Complete Breakdown.  This was a fascinating and informational session where Jeanine talked about the important work that Skuna Bay is doing to impact the seafood world. Jeanine is dedicated to the craft of  raising farmed salmon.  She is a specialist in her field and was one of the first females to enter this profession.  Jeanine shared the Skuna Bay story and then partnered with Chef and butcher Erika Nakamura to demonstrate how to properly filet (break down sushi style) a gorgeous Skuna Bay salmon. 

 

Following a wonderful post-conference phone conversation with Jeanine, I also had the opportunity to talk with Dean Trethewey, production director of Grieg Seafoods.  Like Jeanine, he has been in the industry for a very long time, 25 years to be exact.  Dean worked on commercial boats prior to this role. In his role as production director he oversees all of the certifications and regulations for Skuna Bay.  He looks after all of the sea sites and supports the farmers to make sure they have all that they need to do the job of growing healthy salmon.  Dean noticed many years ago that the wild salmon industry was beginning to struggle and was excited about being a part of an aquaculture business that took pressure off of those wild stocks. 

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