Nora G. Hertel, St. Cloud Times
Published 2:02 p.m. CT Dec. 16, 2019 | Updated 4:48 p.m. CT Dec. 16, 2019
LITTLE FALLS — Agriculture stories this year focused on the affects of a trade war and the impact of climate change on farmers.
Arlene Jones has a different story to tell.
She's a farmer with 80 acres and the executive director of Sprout, a food hub in Little Falls that connects local farmers with markets in schools and restaurants and with consumers directly.
"The trade wars don't impact small, biodiverse farms," Jones said. "The trade wars are impacting the growers that have thousands and thousands of acres of mostly corn and soybeans that are sitting in grain elevators, because there's no market for them."
The small farmers who work with Sprout don't rely on the international market, Jones said. She co-founded Sprout after she found local buyers for her own and others' produce.
"Growers that practice variety over volume are less likely to have access to markets," Jones said — and they're less vulnerable to trade actions.
The nonprofit took root in 2012 and has grown in the last three years. Sprout is home to a rental kitchen for cooking classes and small food processors, and it's a monthly marketplace in the winter and hosts other food and artistic programs.
Their marketplace expanded from 20 vendors three years ago to 45 with a waiting list.
On Saturday morning the Sprout warehouse echoed with songs from the Cold Spring Area Maennerchor. Craft and food vendors displayed their wares. And the kitchen smelled like garlic as Central Minnesota farmers prepped for a cooking demonstration.
Sprout has used an arts grant over the last three years to beautify its space and highlight minority groups in the community. Staff applied for another grant and hope to get funding to tell farmers' stories and feature cooking demonstrations with their food.
"Consumers are continuing to demand the story behind their food," Jones said.
"I think it is the consumer conscience, (the) consciousness of really starting to care about the economic vitality of the communities that they live in," she said. "And you pair that with personal responsibility for our own well-being through food, and those are value propositions that no one's going to turn their back on."
And it's good for the environment
Kate Droske mixed sour cream into a skillet of ground beef for the filling of pierogis, Polish dumplings, at the start of Saturday's marketplace. She prepped to demonstrate her great-grandmother's recipe with her husband Tyler Carlson. The two run Early Boots Farm in Sauk Centre and raised the beef used in the recipe.
Jim and Audra Chamberlin of Island Lake Farm in Deerwood brought garlic, onions and potatoes for the demonstration.
All four farmers in Sprout's kitchen have used Sprout for freezer space or sold their produce through the nonprofit. They attended Saturday to represent the Sustainable Farming Association's Central Chapter.
"Agriculture done well heals," said Jim Chamberlin. "Agriculture done poorly degrades. Degrades our water. Degrades our soil. Degrades our health. Degrades our rural communities."
Sustainable agriculture is tied to the local food movement and supports soil health through practices like cover crops and rotational grazing.
Small farmers may be shielded from trade wars, but they're not protected from volatile weather and other challenges in farming, like finding a next generation of farmers.
Jones hopes with a new grant Sprout can better equip farmers, including Amish and Hispanic growers, to compete with behemoth producers.
The farms that Sprout works with aren't mechanized farms, Jones said. They're hand-planted, weeded and harvested.
"A farmer's hand touched that food," she said. "And we want you to know the story behind it."
Note: This story is part of an intermittent series at the St. Cloud Times about the future of agriculture in Minnesota.
Written By: Brainerd Dispatch
LITTLE FALLS – Local farmers will showcase their products at the upcoming Holiday Growers & Makers Marketplace from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 14 at Sprout in Little Falls.
The December market aims to create a cheerful holiday experience for the whole family through cooking demonstrations, tasty food samples, choir singing and shopping for handmade and homegrown food, art and gifts, it stated in a news release. The public is invited to attend the free event which also includes art activities for all ages through a traveling felting studio and community rug-making.
Entertainment at the market from 10 a.m. to noon will be The Cold Spring Area Maennerchor — German for Men’s Choir — celebrating over 80 years of bringing spirited singing to central Minnesota. The group of more than 15 singers will be dressed in German vests and hats performing a festive set with Christmas carols in German and English as well as a few German crowd favorites. Pillager Schools’ Chamber Singers will then take the stage from 1-3 p.m., singing a mix of a cappella vocal music and holiday carols.
There will be a cooking demonstration and food sampling at about noon in the Sprout kitchen, featuring central Minnesota farmers with the Sustainable Farming Association. SFA is a farmer-to-farmer network that promotes environmental stewardship, economic resilience and strong, diverse communities through education, demonstration and research. The cooking demonstration will be led by Tyler Carlson and Kate Droske of Early Boots Farm of Sauk Centre, who will prepare Pierogi featuring their own grass-fed beef, in addition to products from Ole Lake Farm of Aitkin and Island Lake Farm in Deerwood.
Pierogi, the national dish of Poland, are delicate, stuffed dumplings that date back to the 13th century. Pierogi is a staple holiday dish to celebrate Christmas, Easter, weddings, and more, often having a designated flavor for each holiday, a news release stated. The public is invited to gather in the kitchen to watch the demonstration and learn more about the SFA. SFA members are also invited to stay at Sprout for a social at 3 p.m., which will include a Local Fermentation potluck.
Market attendees are encouraged to come to the Market day hungry, to taste the samples and to dine at the Cabin Fever “pop-up restaurant” to enjoy lunch, craft brews and wine during the market, a news release stated.
Those inspired by the art at the market can have the opportunity to try their hand at two fiber art activities during the market. Facilitated by Liz Dwyer of Dancing the Land Farm, the community will help create a felt rug as an art installation for the Sprout Marketplace. Using wool from “good-felting sheep” she raises on her farm in Clearwater, Dwyer lets the natural wool dictate the color pallet with shades of white, brown, gray and black. After many years of learning and teaching felting, Dwyer travelled to Kyrgyzstan to study a very specific, traditional Kyrgyz style of rug-making.
“There I was steeped in felt, the sounds of sheep, the dizzying heights of the high mountain pastures, the sounds of nomad horse games, the taste of vodka, and apricots, and lamb stew, and endless cups of black tea and milk. I felted until my hands were raw, and my eyes crossed. And I learned a ton,” Dwyer stated.
As one of three Western women who have been taught this art by traditional Kyrgyz artists, Dwyer has the rare permission to keep making and teaching the art. At the market, she needs the many hands of market goers to contribute to the rug-making, as she states “Traditionally, felt-making is community making.”
Market attendees can learn other fiber art techniques at the Mobile Felting Studio by artist Lisa Jordan of Brainerd. As an ambassador for the fiber art form in the region, Jordan has introduced the art to hundreds of students through various workshops and demonstrations. At the mobile studio, Jordan sets up a “sensory feast” of raw fleeces with their sheepy scent and greasy feel, lofty wool batting, unusual looking wool tools and bowls of tiny animals made of wool to pique curiosity, a news release stated. Participants can try many aspects of processing and felting from washing fleece to needle-felting.
The Mobile Felting Studio by artist Lisa Jordan (Brainerd, Minn.) will be set up at the Sprout Market, where participants can learn about many stages of fiber and ways of felting.
The community is invited to shop the Sprout Growers & Makers Marketplace vendors selling local food and art in 2020 on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on January 25, February 29, March 28, October 31, November 14, December 12. During these markets, through visual and performing art, culinary demonstrations, Sprout showcases community assets and talents of a variety of cultures across the region. In the months of April through September, Sprout hosts cooking classes, educational workshops, MINCED: The Finer Version of Chopped cooking competition on May 8, 2020, and Summer Harvest Dinner on July 31, 2020, utilizing food to tell stories and connect to one another.
Due to a partnership with Hunger Solutions Minnesota, families and individuals eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can also double their dollar at the Sprout Growers & Makers Marketplace and the Sprout Mobile Market. Shoppers with SNAP can swipe their EBT card at the market to receive an additional dollar for every dollar spent up to $10 in “Market Bucks.” SNAP is a federal food assistance program. Benefits are placed on an electronic benefits transfer card (EBT) similar to a debit card. To find out if you qualify for SNAP, call the Minnesota Food HelpLine at 1-888-711-1151 or visit mnfoodhelpline.org for more information.
The À la cARTe Initiative is funded by the McKnight Foundation, Otto Bremer Trust, Lakewood Health System, and Mardag Foundation. The project is coordinated by Sprout MN, Region Five Development Commission and Five Wings Arts Council.
Interested shoppers, growers, artists, chefs, and educators who want to learn more, visit www.SproutMN.com and follow the Sprout Growers & Makers Marketplace on Facebook.
By: Brainerd Dispatch | Nov 13th 2019 - 12pm.
LITTLE FALLS -- Homegrown, handmade food and art become available each winter month at the Sprout markets in Little Falls, but in November and December, the Holiday spirit is in full swing. With more than 40 farmers, artisans and artists displaying their work, the market becomes a one stop gift shop for the whole family.
The Growers and Makers Holiday Markets will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, and Dec. 14 at Sprout. Sprout Growers and Makers Marketplace highlights regional arts through performances, cooking demonstrations and free art activities at each monthly market.
The November performance at 10 a.m. will feature St. Cloud musician, Nathan Neuman on accordion. While primarily polka, Neuman also plays old-time music, waltzes, two-step and country.
There will be free art activities for all ages at “The Happy Little Art Cart” with artist Tressa Hills. The mobile art studio was named after Bob Ross, American painter, art instructor, and television host of “The Joy of Painting” who famously called painting mistakes “happy little accidents,” a news release stated. Hills carried on this mindset of turning “mistakes” beautiful by hosting a painting party with her community to paint the outside mural on the studio.
Tressa is one of four artists engaged in Sprout’s À la cARTe Initiative that brings art experiences on the road to increase art access in rural Minnesota. The other artists include Lisa Jordan of Brainerd, Maria Ervasti of Staples and Heidi Jeub of Little Falls, will each have their mobile art studio at one of Sprout’s indoor winter markets throughout the season.
The community is invited to attend the market and enjoy free samples during the cooking demonstration which will showcase the culinary talents of Chef Mateo Mackbee of Model Citizen the Restaurant in New London. Mackbee holds the 2019 Master Chef award from the cooking competition MINCED: The Finer Version of Chopped. Sprout hosts MINCED annually, pitting three area chefs against each other and the timer to prepare a dish to impress the judges. Mackbee won over the judges in the dessert round with an Ethiopian pancake, bananas foster and berry sauce topping. Chef Jenna Brower Von Siebolds also be working in the Sprout kitchen the week of the market to host a Friendsgiving Cooking Class. The cooking class will run from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday and will use locally sourced ingredients from Sprout Food Hub like Butternut Squash and Sweet Potatoes to create traditional Thanksgiving favorites with a twist. Cooking class tickets are $30 per person and can be purchased at www.sproutmn.com/kitchen#class.
Market attendees are encouraged to come to the event hungry, to taste the samples and to dine at the Cabin Fever “pop-up restaurant” that will have lunch, craft brews and wine available during the market. Local food and art producers interested in participating in the market can become a vendor by visiting www.sproutmn.com/vendors.
As host for the Rural Arts and Culture Summit, Grand Rapids shared its successes and struggles with visitors from 25 states.
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – In a classroom inside a defunct, historic elementary school, a few dozen “students” peppered the morning’s teachers — three arts leaders — with questions. For two days, attendees of the Rural Arts and Culture Summit had seen firsthand how this northern Minnesota city incorporated the arts into its city government and its public spaces.
How, exactly, did that happen? Could they do it, too?
“It took six years. It didn’t happen overnight,” said Ed Zabinski, who was on the Grand Rapids City Council when it created an Arts and Culture Commission. “If you’re watching from a distance, it’s like watching paint dry. It’s painful. But it is important, because in the process they made sure the people who had negative things to say had that opportunity.
“They checked all the boxes, touched all the bases.”
In early October, about 350 people from 25 states gathered in this Mississippi River city of about 11,000 to talk about how the arts can boost small communities. Hosting the three-day, multivenue conference gave the city, better known for its paper mill, the chance to share its successes and struggles in the arts. It honored the old — KAXE, the longest-running rural public radio station in the country. It showed off the new — a handful of public art pieces scattered across the city.
Public art, including this temporary sculpture of colorful fungi on a bridge spanning the Mississippi River, has been popping up around Grand Rapids this year, thanks to the city’s Arts and Culture Commission. At left is Sonja Merrild, commission chair, with artist Nicole Camene. Photo by Michele Anderson.
In past years, Springboard for the Arts hosted this biennial conference on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Morris. But Springboard, a nonprofit that connects artists and communities, wanted to see what the event could look and feel like in a new spot, said Michele Anderson, the organization’s rural program director.
Grand Rapids, with its state-of-the-art performance venue and its downtown art gallery, its high-profile indigenous arts community and its new city commission, seemed like an ideal spot, she said. The city is also honest about the area’s challenges, including an economy historically dependent on mining and forestry.
“The transitions the region is facing are really significant,” Anderson said. “They’re showing how to look those challenges right in the face.”
On a new pedestrian bridge spanning the Mississippi, flat, colorful fungi sprout.
Artist Nicole Camene affixed the final mushroom, sculpted with wood, cardboard and yarn, to the slender railing just as a tour group of conference attendees approached.
“Public-space art is kind of like my passion, where I feel most connected to people and place,” Camene said.
The Minneapolis artist attended a workshop in Grand Rapids, learning about grants they were offering to create public art projects. Camene had been reading about the symbiotic relationship between trees and fungi. After digging into the Blandin Paper Co.’s efforts around sustainability, she thought mushrooms might make an apt metaphor for balancing consumption and protection of the area’s resources.
“It’s complicated,” she said. “We need toilet paper and things to write on. But at the same time, we can try to find a balance.”
The temporary fungi join four new permanent sculptures that have popped up in Grand Rapids this year. There are two new murals, too, and two pieces of sidewalk poetry.
The flurry of public art is rooted in the work of the Arts and Culture Commission, formed in 2013. The group drew up a plan for arts in the city. It launched an artist residency program, offering makers studio space in the Old Central School downtown. It persuaded the City Council to earmark 1.5% of funding for public-works projects for public art.
During a panel on rural prosperity, experts shared stories and ideas. From left, Pam Breaux, president and CEO for National Assembly of State Art Agencies in Washington, D.C.; Susan DuPlessis, community arts development director for South Carolina Arts Commission; Em Johnson, executive director of Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama, Calif.; Michele Anderson, rural program director of Springboard for the Arts in Fergus Falls, Minn. Photo by Holly J. Diestler.
They knew little about how to pick and place public art, said Sonja Merrild, the commission’s chairwoman and director of grants for the Blandin Foundation, which plays a key role in community development here.
“We were in over our heads,” she said. A small group photographed a building where they thought a mural might look nice, a street corner where a sculpture might work. “This is where we think art would look pretty,” as she put it. Then they hired Forecast Public Art, a St. Paul nonprofit, to help create a process for selecting, paying for and placing artworks, Merrild said. “They make the process really defensible.”
Summit attendees seemed to appreciate the city leaders’ honesty, Merrild said later. Plus, “because Grand Rapids is pretty far up here in the woods, I sensed some surprise that we could have an arts community that was as significant, frankly, as it is.”
‘It is who we are’
The summit dug into plenty of numbers. The economic impact of the arts, the return on investment. But it started with ceremony.
On Friday morning, Gary Charwood of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe said a blessing and lit some sage, inviting the hundreds of people gathered in the Reif Performing Arts Center to “feel free to come and smudge if you choose to.”
They did, waving the smoke toward their faces and over their heads. Light, sweet smoke filled the auditorium.
During the opening plenary, the speakers introduced themselves by describing the sights and sounds that reminded them of home. Musician Annie Humphrey described a scent. Growing up on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation just west of Grand Rapids, “all I wanted to do was leave,” she said. But while in the Marine Corps, stationed in Japan, she received a package from her father, a man unlikely to write letters, much less send packages. “I opened the box up,” Humphrey said, “and I saw what it was and I walked away to be by myself.”
Inside the little cardboard box was wild rice. She stuck her face inside and breathed.
“Nothing smells like wild rice,” she said. It made her realize that “I can’t live anywhere else.”
Humphrey, one of many Native American artists onstage at this year’s summit, spoke plainly about the racism she’s experienced in Grand Rapids. The coolness she encountered at the store. The rude comments her niece heard at a coffee shop where she worked.
“The feeling and the energy in this town is quite strange,” Humphrey said. “I’m not sure what can be done about it. It’s a huge problem. Where do you start?”
Other panelists shared similar struggles. In Duluth, considered an artsy town, the work of indigenous artists has been invisible, said Moira Villiard, arts and cultural program coordinator for the American Indian Community Housing Organization.
But that’s changing. She pointed to the massive red mural downtown of an Ojibwe jingle dress dancer and water protector, a bandanna covering her face, completed in 2017. It is “one of the only depictions of persons of color by a person of color,” said Villiard, who recently received a grant from Forecast Public Art to design four community street murals.
Villiard cautioned arts advocates to consider the language they use around arts-making in small towns. Specifically, “creative place-making,” a buzzword in this crowd.
“Place-making — as if a place isn’t already something,” Villiard said. People shouldn’t be “creating a new history when you haven’t addressed the history that’s already there.
“If you don’t think there’s a story of the place, you’re wrong.”
Packing the gallery
On Friday evening, attendees milled around downtown Grand Rapids for First Friday, a monthly event marked by arts and food trucks.
The air was chilly, but people watched as a stocking-capped painter captured the stately Old Central School on his canvas. They ducked into shops where artists displayed their wares. They packed the MacRostie Art Center, sipping wine, perusing jewelry and checking out “Beyond Borders,” an exhibit by Native American artists.
Many lingered before a pair of red paintings. In one, titled “For My Sisters,” an Ojibwe jingle dancer raises a feather fan and a protective arm. Behind her, red shadows appear — an army of women, dancing in formation.
Artist Hillary Kempenich of Grand Forks, N.D., doesn’t usually depict her Native subjects in traditional regalia. “I try to show us in our modern form,” she said. “But for this, there’s a story that needed to be told about uplifting women.” The jingle dress dancers have been called forward to work on the problem of missing and murdered indigenous women, she said. “We can heal ourselves — heal the world, as well.”
Kempenich, who’s from the Turtle Mountain reservation, came to the conference hoping to find direction in how to help Grand Forks build a “better, sustainable arts community.”
“We don’t have spaces like this,” she said, gesturing at the gallery. The North Dakota Museum of Art is “bringing art into the space from around the world, which is super-important. But we also need to be supporting the artists and creating a creative economy in Grand Forks.
“So what’s happening in Minnesota has been really inspiring.”
LITTLE FALLS -- Students from three different central Minnesota schools will be featured artists at the indoor marketplace set from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 26 at Sprout in Little Falls.
Sprout Growers and Makers Marketplace highlights cultural arts through performances and cooking demonstrations at each monthly market. The October market will highlight talented students in both music and culinary arts, a news release stated. The market will also reveal a new art installation made by a young artist, as well as have free art activities for all ages.
Sprout Growers & Makers Marketplace season includes six monthly markets from October through March. The first of the season this month will gather a variety of food producers, artisans and artists who make their homegrown, handmade products available for community members to purchase. The market takes the form of a mini monthly festival, offering entertainment through performances and cooking demonstrations. The October performance is organized by Todd Peterson, Little Falls High School band teacher, and includes a mix of students and teachers in a first-of-its-kind jazz ensemble. The six member jazz combo includes Peterson; Joel Pohland, band director at Pierz Healy High School; and Carl Mathwig, Pierz Pioneer Elementary band teacher; as well as a student from each of the schools. Playing jazz standards from the Big Band and Swing eras, plus Latin and modern jazz, the group will perform three sets during the market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Following the band performance, there will be a cooking demonstration at 1 p.m. in the Sprout kitchen, with samples available for market attendees. Students from Sauk Rapids-Rice High School’s ProStart Program will demonstrate a butternut squash-apple bruschetta, using ingredients sourced locally from Sprout’s Food Hub. Mary Levinski, the instructor for the program states, “This is a great recipe, we tried it out and the students loved it, even though they typically do not like squash.”
Sauk Rapids-Rice High School is one of 50 schools in Minnesota that offers the ProStart Program, a national two year culinary training program that provides real-life experience opportunities, culinary techniques and management skills to high school students. Market attendees are encouraged to come to the event hungry, to taste the samples and to dine at the Cabin Fever “pop-up restaurant” that will have lunch, craft brews, and wine available during the market. Local food and art producers interested in participating in the market can become a vendor by visiting www.sproutmn.com/vendors.
Another feature of the market is a new art installation by Andreas Nordrum, a young artist from Laporte, who created a life size Migizi, Ojibwe for “Eagle” out of red willow and cedar wood. The willow was woven to create the tail feathers, and the Migizi’s head was hand carved out of cedar wood. The majestic piece now hangs from the rafters of Sprout’s facility.
Due to a partnership with Hunger Solutions Minnesota, families and individuals eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can also double their dollar at the Sprout Growers & Makers Marketplace and the Sprout Mobile Market. Shoppers with SNAP can swipe their electronic benefit transfer card at the market to receive an additional dollar for every dollar spent up to $10 in “Market Bucks.” SNAP is a federal food assistance program. Benefits are placed on an EBT similar to a debit card. To find out if you qualify for SNAP, call the Minnesota Food HelpLine at 888-711-1151 or visit mnfoodhelpline.org for more information.
The activities are funded through a grant awarded to the Region Five Development Commission by ArtPlace America’s National Creative Placemaking Fund.
Sprout, a non-profit based in Little Falls that aims to connect and strengthen the local food system, has launched a new grocery store on wheels, the Mobile Market.
“Sprout has been doing CSAs, community sustainable agriculture, for a while now, but this mobile market was more like a portable grocery store that we could also bring around with us so people have more access to fruits and vegetables,” said Dawn Espe, Region 5 Development Commission planner.
The Sprout Mobile Market as well as the art cart hits the road every other Tuesday. Today, they stopped in Staples at the Sourcewell headquarters before traveling up to Pine River.
Sprout launched the Mobile Market in order to increase access to fresh local foods in rural areas.
“We were just recognizing that there’s parts in the region that maybe didn’t have the access to the fresh fruits and vegetables that other people did,” explained Espe. “So we’re trying to make sure that everybody has a great quality of life around the region and that kind of access.”
Traveling with the Mobile Market is Sprout’s À la cARTe Initiative, a cohort of four artists that have come together to build a mobile art studio.
“A lot of times, people don’t necessarily have access to those types of experiences outside of a larger city. The initiative is to have more arts experiences in our rural communities,” said Maria Ervasti, Sprout À la cARTe artist.
The Mobile Market and the À la cARTe Initiative are coordinated by Sprout, the Region 5 Development Commission, and the Five Wings Arts Council.
When is dinner more than just dinner? When stories are told. And connections made.
That's the premise of a new documentary, which focuses on the stories of immigrants and other minorities living in the small towns and rural areas of central Minnesota. "Who's At Your Table?" brings together people of widely varying experiences to share a family-style meal and tell their stories—where they came from; how their cultures shaped them; and how they find life and acceptance in Minnesota.
It's the extension of a TEDxGullLake Talk delivered in 2015 by Arlene Jones, a Brainerd farmer and founder of Sprout Growers and Makers Market in Little Falls. She cohosts the dinner with Martin Jennings, a grants administrator and member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. Dinner guests include two Somali refugees, a Liberian refugee and entrepreneur, three former Amish members, a mother of seven multicultural children, and a chamber of commerce director in a small town finding new growth and conflict with the influx of first-generation Americans. Most of the dinner guests met each other for the first time at the gathering.
When to watch
What: "Who's At Your Table?"—television documentary.
When: 9 p.m. Monday, June 24, repeating 8 p.m. Thursday, June 27.
Where: Lakeland Public Broadcasting.
"The face of central Minnesota is changing," narrator Jennifer Smith of Brainerd said at the outset of "Who's At Your Table?" "There is more color to who we are. More depth to our traditions. More stories about from where we came."
With that introduction, the guests begin telling their own origin stories. Abdi Daisane, a Somali immigrant who now runs a preschool in St. Cloud, discusses growing up in a refugee camp and sharing what limited food was available. Fortuna Alexander, a Liberian immigrant, tells how she became an entrepreneur to finance an orphanage in a country ravaged by civil war and Ebola. Business owners and former Amish members Enos and Mary Schwartzentruber explain what it's like moving from one culture into another without ever leaving town.
The hour-long storytelling and discussion is more about cultural understanding than conflict, Jones pointed out in a news release.
"Food was the motivator," she stated. "The heritage behind the food was what we used as the platform to bring all these people together. To share a meal as you would with your family and begin to tell our stories about what it is like to live in central Minnesota to possibly be an immigrant and to possibly be someone who is here who is different, who has had a different struggle."
The documentary will premiere on Lakeland Public Broadcasting, beginning 9 p.m. June 24 and repeating 8 p.m. June 27. It was created by Resilient Living MN, a production arm of Happy Dancing Turtle in Pine River, which also organized the TEDxGullLake conference. Region Five Development Commission and ArtPlace provided funding, along with assistance from Sprout and Lakeland Public Broadcasting.
The "Who's At Your Table?" dinner represented a rare opportunity for people of differing cultures to come together, tell their stories and listen to others, said co-host Jennings. "Hopefully, this work and this conversation will help others think a little more differently about communities that they typically don't see or think about," he said.
By Sheila McCoy, Morrison County Record
Zero waste living. That’s what Little Falls native Stephanie (Chatfield) Wall strives for. Now living in Seattle, Wash. with her husband Zach, and their son, Wesley, Wall plan to return to Little Falls to share her passion.
The Zero Waste Living workshop will be held Wednesday, June 5, at 7 p.m., at Sprout, 609 13th Ave. NE, Door 8, in Little Falls. The event is co-hosted by Purple Carrot Market, Sprout and the Little Falls Farmers Market.
Stephanie (Chatfield) Wall shops with zero waste living in mind. Instead of purchasing yogurt in plastic containers, she brings along mason jars and gets many of her dry and wet goods in the bulk section or at Farmers Markets.
The concept of zero waste living is to examine habits and practices to find ways waste can be minimized.
“What I have learned since I started is that you can’t go back. You start thinking of all the ways you reduce waste. It’s inspiring and it’s fun,” she said.
Wall said although she grew up with her parents, Tom Chatfield and Joelle Zylka, instilling valuable conservation skills, it was ultimately a blog by Bea Johnson that inspired her in 2010.
“I’m not sure how I stumbled across that blog, but I was drawn to it because of her beautiful kitchen,” she said. “When I started reading her blog about how much trash we produce, it really got me thinking about my own waste.”
Wall said she was fascinated by the fact that Johnson, who had a family of four, had been able to minimize their waste to 1 liter of landfill waste per year.
“Now they’re down to a half a liter,” she said.
Wall said it’s easier to get started by just taking it room-by-room. For her, the kitchen was the starting point.
Instead of using plastic bags when she went shopping, she brought along reusable cloth bags.
Rather than buying packages of certain foods, she opted for filling up mason jars she brought in the bulk section of the store.
“That was one way I started reducing my personal waste. Then it just snowballed from there,” she said.
Other ways to minimize waste are to use bamboo toothbrushes, wool dryer balls, cotton towels, natural loofahs and kitchen scrubbers.
Using reusable water bottles, to-go coffee tumblers and utensils helps eliminate plastic water bottles, disposable coffee cups and plastic cutlery.
It is never too early to instill zero waste living in the younger generation. Pictured is Wesley, the son of Stephanie Wall, after a shopping trip to the bulk section.
Wall said reducing waste doesn’t just have a positive effect on the environment. It also produces a simplified life and has also saved her time and money as she is more mindful of what she accumulates.
By shopping locally, interacting with growers at the farmers market and other stores, she has gained various relationships, as many have become friends.
Wall is one of four co-founders of a grass roots community called “Seattle Zero Waste.” At first, the four started getting together over food and drink to talk about sustainability and zero waste living. About a year later, they started holding monthly meet-ups.
“We only had two people come the first time, but we kept putting out our invitation on our personal Instagram accounts for people to meet us,” she said.
As time went by, more and more people attended the meet-ups.
“We empower and inspire people to reduce their waste through meaningful relationships and collaboration,” she said.
The group continued to grow and started a group on Facebook, which now has nearly 1,800 members.
Wall believes the more people start to think about the waste they produce, the more potential it has to change policy.
She finds it challenging to see the amount of the trash that is produced worldwide.
“Not in a judgmental way, but seeing how much trash is produced, makes me think about the challenge of how do we move our society to a circular economy instead of a linear economy. Circular meaning products that are thought through in a way where they don’t go to a landfill, but they are either reused or can be composted,” Wall said.
Wall encourages people to come to the workshop to learn more about ways waste can be eliminated.
With three chefs, three courses and three mystery ingredients in each, only one could walk away with the title, “Master chef.” That’s what Minced, “The finer version of Chopped,” was about, May 10, when three chefs competed against each other at Sprout in Little Falls. It was the second year the event was held.
Each chef came with a different culinary background. This year’s winner, Matéo Mackbee, with 13 years of experience, found his roots of the culinary art in primarily Creole and Cajun dishes — New Orleans style.
“My grandfather, Renard Morril, was a chef on a ship from New Orleans to Africa. My summers were spent in New Orleans, watching him cook for us,” he said
Although Mackbee was passionate about food for as long as he can remember and showed an interest early on, he avoided pursuing a career in it.
“Food is something I have always been passionate about. One of my earliest childhood memories is walking home from kindergarten. Normally kids watch cartoons, but I would watch ‘Yan Can Cook’ on PBS,” he said. “The passion was there inside of me, but I ran away from it for a long time.”
But when he lost his job in IT in the stock market crash in 2008, Mackbee decided it was time for a change.
“When I lost my job in the crash, I wanted to try to find something I could do that would make me feel whole inside. So I went into cooking and never looked back,” he said.
Mackbee said he enrolled in a culinary art school shortly after.
Also competing in the final round was Jenna Brower Von Siebolds, who works as a chef at the “Prairie Bay Grill” in Baxter and with six years, she had the least amount of experience compared to the others.
Although she didn’t take home the master chef title, Brower Von Siebolds was awarded the “People’s Choice Award.”
The other chef, Thomas Kavanaugh, represented the ProStart program at Pillager High School. Despite his solid efforts, he was eliminated after the second round.
The secret ingredients the chefs had to work with were challenging. As the theme for the event was east African cuisine, the secret ingredients were obtained from Somali grocery stores in St. Cloud and did not disappoint.
In the first round for the appetizer, the chefs had to figure out how to include yellow potatoes, golden raisins and Somali coffee spice mix.
The secret ingredients for round two, the entrée, were goat meat, chick peas and pitted dates. When the judges shared their opinion of the chefs’ creations, Minced’s celebrity guest and judge, Kara Carlisle from the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis, said she had eaten the goat meat despite being a vegetarian. After all, it looked so savory, she said.
The final round not only brought the judges dessert, but also the secret ingredients of black tea, guava juice drink and bananas.
While the chefs were given 30 minutes to complete the entrée, only 20 minutes were allowed for the appetizer and dessert rounds.
Despite the risk of the ice cream not hardening enough, Brower Von Siebolds amazingly pulled it off. Mackbee, on the other hand, impressed the judges with a recipe of an Ethiopian pancake with bananas foster topping and a berry sauce.
Although all of the chefs felt the pressure to finish each dish within the allotted time, Mackbee said he embraces competition.
"I’m an athlete at heart. I played soccer and basketball. Competing has always been a big thing for me,” he said.
Mackbee said the biggest challenge for him was being unfamiliar with the kitchen and not knowing where different things were, along with running back and forth.
Being named “Master Chef” was thrilling for Mackbee. But what made him even agree to compete was all Sprout stands for.
“I love this organization and everything that is going on in here,” he said.
By Pioneer Journal Staff on May 18, 2019 at 4:13 p.m.
Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) was awarded $92,500 from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) through the (2018 Cycle II) Support Our Troops (SOT) license plate fund grant program. The MDVA SOT grant program offers a competitive grant process which allows organizations to apply for funding. These grants, ranging from $1,000 to $100,000, are focused on supporting and improving the lives of veterans and their families.
R5DC will use the funds to support a program for 50 veterans residing in the counties of Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd or Wadena. Participating veterans will receive a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) food package twice per month, for one year at no cost. Cooking demonstrations and classes will be offered monthly by local food experts, chefs and nutrition educators.
The goal of the VetCSA is to improve the overall quality of life for veterans and their families. This initiative delivers healthy foods and gives additional knowledge and skills on how to prepare them. Building a healthy lifestyle creates a positive effect on physical and mental health. The VetCSA brings veterans, families, growers and communities together, with food coming from Sprout MN and supporting regional growers and ranchers.
For details on MDVA's Support Our Troops License Plate program found on the MDVA Website at the following link: https://mn.gov/mdva/resources/supporttroopslicenseplates.jsp