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.