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2017 Field to Fork Webinars Begin in February

Free webinars will be held every Wednesday from Feb. 22 to April 26.

Vegetables that grow well in North Dakota, food safety and wine making are among the topics for this year’s Field to Fork webinars.

The North Dakota State University Extension Service launched the Field to Fork campaign in 2016 to increase people’s knowledge of growing, transporting, processing and preserving fruits and vegetables safely.

The Field to Fork campaign will continue in 2017 with the first of 10 Wednesday Weekly Webinars set for Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. Central time. All webinars will be held from 2 to 3 p.m.

The webinars are free of charge. This project is made possible through funding from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

Webinar topics and dates are:

  • Food Safety: From Field to Fork – Feb. 22
  • Recommended Vegetable Varieties for North Dakota - March 1
  • What Regulations Apply When Preparing Food for the Public? - March 8
  • U.S. Food Law: Aligning the Pieces of the Regulatory Puzzle - March 15
  • Introduction to Home Wine Making - March 22
  • Herbs: From Growing to Packing - March 29
  • Will the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Guidelines Affect Your Business? - April 5
  • Update on Spotted Wing Drosophila (Fruit Fly) in North Dakota - April 12
  • How to Can Low- and High-acid Foods - April 19
  • Introducing Youth to Gardening - April 26

 

The webinars will be held on Blackboard Collaborate. A link to register for the webinars can be found on the Field to Fork website (https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/fieldtofork). Archived webinars from 2016 also can be viewed on the website.

Presenters will be NDSU personnel and special guests.

 

For more information, visit NDSU Extension’s Field to Fork website or contact Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist, at 701 231-7187 or julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu.

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Field to Fork Webinar Dates Set

FREE webinars will be held every Wednesday from February 24 to April 27.

The North Dakota State University Extension Service is launching a webinar series Feb. 24 to provide information about growing, transporting, processing and preserving specialty-crop fruits and vegetables safely.

The “Field to Fork Wednesday Weekly Webinars” will begin Feb. 24. They’ll be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Central Standard Time through April 27.

The webinars are free of charge.

Topics that will be covered are:

  • Feb. 24: How the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act will affect you
  • March 2: Using high tunnels to extend the growing season
  • March 9: 10 steps to a fantastic garden and an introduction to square-foot gardening
  • March 16: How to grow berries in North Dakota and highlights from NDSU’s Williston Research Extension Center
  • March 23: Manure, greenhouses and food safety
  • March 30: How small businesses can avoid being the best-kept secret
  • April 6: Safe food handling during processing and selling local foods
  • April 13: Facts and myths about food preservation
  • April 20: Food safety inspections and audit requirements for producers
  • April 27: What to know about food labels, ingredients and allergens

Presenters will be NDSU personnel and special guests. The webinars will be held on Blackboard Collaborate. The Field to Fork website (https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/fieldtofork) has a link to register for the webinars.

This project is made possible with funding from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

For more information, visit NDSU Extension’s new, comprehensive Field to Fork website or contact Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist, at (701) 231-7187 or julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu

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Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) 2015

By: Lori & Kevin Martin Lori is a Leadership for Local Foods Participant. She and her husband Kevin attended the 2015 MOSES conference. Together they own and operate Roving Donkey Farm, a family owned vegetable farm located north of Bismarck.

Walking tractors, time management, vermicomposting, and productive packing houses - oh my!  Attending the MOSES Organic Farming Conference is a must for anyone involved in producing or consuming local food, interest in local food policy, or just a general interest in the health of the planet.  Located in La Crosse, WI every February, this is the largest organic farming conference of its kind in the United States.  There are tracks to educate attendees on field and specialty crops, soil and farming systems, livestock, marketing and education, and environmental issues.

What I really enjoy about this conference is commiserating with like-minded folks for several days and getting charged up for the season ahead.  The communal meal environment is a great way to meet people from all over the Midwest, sometimes the world, and hear about what they are doing and how they are succeeding, as well as the challenges they face.

Attending with my husband allowed us to take in many more workshops and share what we learned.  We attended classes on walking tractors, time and productivity management, identifying and controlling vegetable diseases organically, making and selling items from your home kitchen, having a productive packing house, vermicomposting, solar power on your farm and how to maximize profit in a high tunnel.  Several key takeaways from these workshops were:

  • Walking tractors are not for everyone, and the need to accommodate smaller statured folks in terms of power and size has not yet been addressed.  We would love to have one on our farm, as we are 100% human powered, but it may be overkill.
  • A great idea for managing regular tasks on the farm is to create checklists (with pictures when applicable).  This will allow employees and interns to fill in or pick up new tasks with little to no training.  Documentation is king!
  • Downy mildew in basil is becoming a real problem in the US.  In our northern climate it is not able to overwinter, but seed sources are still important to consider.
  • One would think vermicomposting and organic disease management would be boring workshops to attend, but it’s all in the presentation folks.  I have heard both presenters at previous conferences and they are amazing!  If you ever see Erin Silva or John Biernbaum on an agenda, go see them!
  • Navigating your state’s cottage food law (or local health district regulations in the case of ND) is vital when planning to produce items for sale from your home kitchen.  Presentation is just as important as quality of the product.
  • There were so many gleanings from the productive packing shed workshop, an entire post could be written on that.  Even for the small producer, there are some great DIY options for having a great packing shed.  These include:
    • Color coding tools and containers
    • Mini pallet jack using a hand truck
    • Rain gear for cleaning root vegetables
    • Posted schedules for cleaning tasks – daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally
    • During design phase, plan for all utilities to be installed outside the walls so any changes are easy to make and have all water drain outside
    • Vermicomposting on a large scale is being studied in several locations across the country and some successes are being reported.  It is a labor-intensive process in that the best results come from raw materials being pre-composted before adding worms.
    • While there is still a lot of room to grow in the field of solar energy, it can be a viable option for powering all, or at least a portion, of your operation.  Additionally, several grant and/or tax credit options exist to help get you started.  A proper evaluation of your usage is key, and finding local installers can be difficult in some areas, but who wouldn’t want to use free, continuous energy?
    • Adam Montri is clearly a ‘numbers’ guy.  When laying out his planting plan for the year, especially in the high tunnel, he breaks his earning potential down to $ / square foot / day, even if that number is $0.002.  By letting his dollar per square foot goal be a main driving force behind his year-round planting plan, he has laid out a sound financial plan that will increase the chance of success year after year.

Given that MOSES is at the end of February, most changes or new processes we plan to implement on our farm are already decided. However, the one item we are using is a system of binder clipped index cards to keep notes and scheduling items in the field.  Previously a large metal clipboard was carried around and ended up being ignored by mid-season.  Hopefully this system will not meet the same fate!

We have touched briefly on the topics we found interesting and useful at the MOSES conference this year.  If anyone would be interested in more detailed information on any of the items, we would gladly answer any questions.  Make plans to attend MOSES next February and we will see you there!

To learn more about Roving Donkey Farm check out their Facebook page.

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Farmer’s Market Buying Club of Central North Dakota

The initiative is a unique collaboration between seven growers and producers to aggregate their products to provide buyers in New Rockford and Carrington an excellent assortment of local goods, as well as a simple buying option.

The Farmer’s Market Buying Club of Central North Dakota is about to embark on its first season. This club is very unique, as it is part farmers market, part buying club. The initiative is a unique collaboration between seven growers and producers to aggregate their products to provide buyers in New Rockford and Carrington an excellent assortment of local goods, as well as a simple buying option.

Rachel Brazil, a Leadership for Local Foods Participant, believes this model will increase access to local food in North Dakota, not only because they are working to meet the needs of consumers, but are trying to make this as easy as possible for the producers. 

“The biggest element is how it came to be. We don’t have a regular farmer’s market, and we realized that a lot of people who were growing local food in our area are mothers of young children or busy professionals. They don’t have time to set up and sit at a farmer’s market. So with this model, the producers put their products online, the customers place their order, and the producer brings the orders to the drop place. We sort out the orders and get it to the customers. This is a whole new way of doing farmer’s markets.”

The Buyer’s Club currently has 35 customers on board who will receive a variety of local products including bison, poultry, eggs, produce, and baked goods. Considering the size of the two small communities, Brazil is very happy with the number of customers this first year.

The only downside Brazil sees, at this time, is not having the face-to-face contact between producers and customers that you attain with a traditional farmer’s market. One way they are going to address that is to feature producer profiles with pictures of the farm on the Buying Club’s website and Facebook page.

“We still want to build those relationships, even if they are not face-to-face,” says Brazil


The first product delivery is scheduled for July 1, and Brazil is excited to see how it goes. Please check back on the blog later this summer for a follow-up story on the Buying Club’s experience, and to see the farm photos.

To learn more check out their website:

http://fmbccnd.weebly.com/

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UTTC Winter Market

Winter Market Logo
 
Winter Market Logo
United Tribes Winder Market Logo
The Winter Market sells a variety of local produce, canned foods, baked goods, jewelry, clothing, artwork, pottery, hula-hoops, dog treats, plants, soaps, natural products, and more!

Winter Market at United Tribes Technical College

The long, cold winter months in North Dakota leave many anxious for spring; especially those who love to grow and eat local food. However, purchasing and eating local food doesn’t have to be exclusive to summer and fall in North Dakota!

The folks at United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) in Bismarck just completed the second season of the Winter Market, a unique market that is dedicated to selling locally grown foods and craft items once a month throughout the winter (November through April).  The Winter Market sells a variety of local produce, canned foods, baked goods, jewelry, clothing, artwork, pottery, hula-hoops, dog treats, plants, soaps, natural products, and more! They also strive to provide family-friendly activities to make the market not only a shopping experience, but a fun, engaging event for the entire family.

The market utilized funding from ND SARE Leadership for Local Foods Program for advertising, logo development, and market signage. They hired a graphic designer to create the Winter Market logo, with the goal of incorporating three aspects into the logo: shopping locally, food, and a tribal quality (as UTTC is the community event host).

The market had a fairly consistent flow of customers throughout the season, with a core group of regular market attendees, as well as new shoppers each month who were interested in checking out the community event.

The second season of the Winter Market was a great success and enjoyed by the Bismarck-Mandan community and beyond. Through event surveys, attendees indicated that they really appreciated the opportunity to attend a local goods market throughout the winter, and also the variety of products and activities available.  They look forward to their third season, offering the Bismarck-Mandan community an opportunity to shop for and eat local food all year long!

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The Cross-pollination Tour

Cross Pollination group
 
Cross Pollination group
Just like cross-pollination creates stronger plants; the exchanging of ideas and knowledge creates stronger local food systems and healthier, brighter communities.

On March 20 and 21, 2015, eleven North Dakota local food leaders set out on a local food education trip to learn about light processing and what it takes to build a thriving local food system. Funded by the NC-SARE Leadership for Local Foods project, the trip was dubbed “The Cross-Pollination Tour.” Like bees carrying pollen from plant to plant, this group travelled across North Dakota to Montana carrying their various experiences in local food systems (as well as a gift basket of North Dakota-made treats), and returned loaded with the pollen of ideas they’ll use to expand local foods across the state.

This two day trip began with a tour of Stone Mill, Inc. a specialty seed and grain cleaning plant in Richardton, ND, followed by lunch with faculty from Dickinson State University’s Agriculture and Technical studies program at Sticks N’ Twigs, an organic café in Dickinson. Following lunch the participants made their way to Glendive to the Farm to Table Co-op.

Farm-to-Table is a multi-faceted nonprofit started in 1998, dedicated to building a sustainable local food system for eastern Montana. Today they have a local food store, a demonstration farm, commercial kitchen, community garden, and two brands (Western Trails Foods and Prairie Home Cuisine). They also own the Prairie Development Center, a building that provides income through the lease of office space to other businesses, and they launched a producer co-op, which is not yet aggregating product, but they are selling shares. Additionally, they have completed a feasibility study and hope to create a local food restaurant and micro-brewery along the river.

The NC-SARE Leadership for Local Foods participants enjoyed a presentation and tour of the Farm to Table Co-op facilities, and also appreciated a wonderful meal prepared by Farm to Table Co-op farmers and members. The van rides to each location included an activity to help the groups learn about NC-SARE Leadership for Local Foods participants, and the trips back were used to reflect and share the most important things learned.

Here are some of the lesson’s learned from the Cross-Pollination Tour participants:

“A light processing facility can be set up in a relatively small space. Starting hubs, centers, etc. should start out with dry goods or nonperishable items to build the infrastructure necessary to support the growth into perishable items. And you need to have an anchor product or business year round to keep you afloat.” – Holly Mawby

“As a producer I am thinking about encouraging others to make steps to grow their businesses. Also in getting serious about thinking beyond farmers market as a valuable income source.”

“Building distribution capacity around shelf stable products has changed a lot about how I see business growing. ” – Rachel Brazil

“A business incubator for local food would benefit producers. An Ag-marketing co-op could make my operation more profitable.” – Glen Philbrick

“Visions can be exciting - generating interest - the plan must include steps which contain visual tangible results to keep the interest. (The importance of knowing the ending and writing for the evaluation.)” – Irene Graves

“Farm to Table put the most energy into creating a solid plan, by hiring the best people to write their feasibility study. They executed the plan on their own, slower timeline, piecing together the equipment they needed from donations and salvage and piecing together their funding from various sources.”

“It takes all kinds to make a food system work: producers, planners and developers, consumers, funders. They have people who support their vision enough to purchase preferred shares at $500 each.”

“You need the right people; those who are passionate about the project. Their staff are a mix of paid staff, Experience Works, (Americorps and VISTA in the past), and volunteers.  They do some hand cleaning of the beans, too. “ – Stephanie Blumhagen

Cross-pollination Tour Participants: (aka the "Local Food Bees")
Sue Balcom - FARRMS
Stephanie Blumhagen - Dakota College at Bottineau
Rachel Brazil - Cooperative Enterprise Development Corporation
Jackson Brazil - Rachel's son, junior entrepreneur
Trisha Feiring - NRCS Beach Field Office
Irene Graves - McLean County Extension
Bonnie Helm - McHenry County Jobs Development Authority
Holly Rose Mawby - Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture
Morris Nelson - Van Driver
Mirek Petrovic - Slavic Heritage Farm
Glen Philbrick - Hiddendale Farm
Toby Stroh - Dickinson State University
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Heart of Dakota Local Foods Education Wagon

Wherever Joshua and Robby go, people take notice. This beautiful pair of ponies, one black and the other white, are trained therapy animals, bringing comfort and happiness to individuals in need of healing. When hitched to their wagon, some might say they resemble a 19th century medicine wagon, traveling place to place selling “magic elixirs” to cure ailments. While this pair isn’t peddling any products, many might argue Robby and Joshua’s presence is a magic elixir for the soul.  

When Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” he knew what he was talking about. Many of the today’s ailments are diet-related health problems, caused by people consuming too many energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods, and too few nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables.

Because Joshua and Robby recognize the importance of eating right and staying healthy, they’ve added a new aspect to their health promotion campaign: this handsome pair are the ambassadors for the Heart of Dakota Local Foods Education Wagon.

Throughout 2014 Joshua, Robby and Irene Graves (their owner, and participate in the ND SARE Leadership for Local Foods Program) traveled across North Dakota to share the good news about local food. They attended festivals and county fairs providing information about why eating locally and supporting local foods is important, completing surveys to further understand the local food scene in the areas, and making connections for individuals to purchase local foods.

Irene and the dynamic duo will be back on the road in 2015, and have developed a Facebook page to follow their happenings. https://www.facebook.com/heartofdakotalocalfoods

They hope to meet many new folks, and continue sharing the benefits of eating locally grown foods for the consumer, grower, and community!

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Town Square Farmer's Market Now Accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Molly Soeby, Family & Consumer Science Agent for Grand Forks County Extension, and Community Health Action Response Team “Take Action” Chair joined the Leadership for Local Foods program in 2013 with the goal of getting Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) dollars accepted at the Town Square Farmer’s Market in Grand Forks.

SNAP offers nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals, and is the largest hunger safety net in the country. There are numerous benefits to allowing SNAP participants to spend their dollars at farmers markets, including increased access to healthy, locally grown foods, and keeping more dollars in the local community.

The Town Square/SNAP initiative began through a diverse community partnership under the “Take Action” umbrella. This group’s been working to allow SNAP use at the farmers market for a number of years, but without the buy-in and participation of the market vendors, they had little success.

There are many steps to implement SNAP acceptance at a farmers market including obtaining an FNS number (USDA certification), identifying a non-profit to sponsor, covering the cost of the point-of-sale machine (SNAP dollars operate like a credit card and many farmers markets operate on cash only), staffing needs to operate the EBT machine, and the costs associated with bookkeeping, start-up, transaction fees, and recruiting vendors to accept the SNAP dollars.

The “Take Action” group was able to complete nearly all of these important logistical pieces, but they were missing one crucial element – buy in from the market vendors. Shortly after the first Local Foods Leadership Training, Molly connected with Caryl Lester, manager of the Town Square Farmer’s Market, who was in full support of the market accepting SNAP and was able to bring all the vendors on board.

Through grant dollars received in the Local Foods Leadership Training, Town Square was able to cover the cost of hiring a summer employee to run the EBT machine. The market operated SNAP with a token system, allowing SNAP participants to purchase tokens to be exchanged for fresh produce, and vendors to be immediately reimbursed for their products. Also, through connections made in the Local Foods Leadership Training, Molly connected with members of the BisMarket Farmers Market, as they successfully began accepting SNAP the previous year. This connection provided guidance and mentorship to Molly and the TownSquare/SNAP team throughout the process.

The Town Square Farmers Market is gearing up for the 2015 market and its second season accepting SNAP benefits. They have many inspiring ideas for the coming year, and one of the key goals, according to Molly, is marketing the EBT capabilities to those in the SNAP program and to see an increase in the use of EBT SNAP at the market.

The Take Action coalition hopes to continue strong, collaborative effort to promote better health, support the local farmers, and ease poverty in the community.

 

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Leadership For Local Foods

Local food is of growing interest all across North Dakota!

Local food is of growing interest all across North Dakota, and it’s not only producers and consumers who are taking notice, but many other entities like restaurants, supermarkets, marketing professionals, schools, and universities. To help bridge some of these relationships, and provide training, guidance, and support to local food leaders, the North Dakota State University Extension Service, through grant funding from North Central Regional – Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (NCR-SARE), provided nearly 20 “teams” an opportunity to participate in the Leadership for Local Foods program – a three year project providing in-person trainings along with financial support to build capacity, education, and marketing for local and regional food.

The project began in the fall of 2013 with a variety of interesting ideas from teams all across the state. To date, three trainings have been held and participants have enjoyed the opportunity to learn about many areas of local foods including:

  • How to Build Food Capacity at the Local and Regional Level
  • Food Safety & GAP Training
  • Local Food Distribution
  • Farm to Grocer, School & Restaurant
  • Telling Your Story - Marketing, Storytelling, & Social Media
  • Making it a Sustainable Business
  • Food Coops & Food Hubs
  • Finding the Resources & Funding

The projects will wrap up in fall of 2015, and this blog will be highlighting some of the success and work that has been accomplished to date. We hope you enjoy reading about these great people and the work they are doing to increase North Dakota’s capacity for local food.

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Celebrate North Dakota Farm to School Week Sept. 14-20

This year Governor Dalrymple proclaims Sept. 14-20 as North Dakota Farm to School Week, and it’s not too early to begin planning your activities.

Whether its holding an apple day, touring the school garden for science or holding a Student Iron Chef competition, we need you to share your ideas and support for farm to school.

Schools should be on the watch for an envelope the week of August 15 for some easy ideas to get you started. We encourage you to return the enclosed card by Sept. 1, to be entered into a drawing for a large gift basket of goodies from farm-based businesses including North Dakota producers. Items include cookbooks, water bottles, tee shirts, posters, cutting boards and more. For a complete list of donors please visit www.ndfarmtoschool.org.

Be sure and involve your PTAs and other parent groups as volunteers for Farm to School Week. And, don’t forget October is National Farm to School Month and Food Day is October 24. Visit www.farmtoschool.org for more ideas and activities.

If you need advice or have questions about farm to school week, do not hesitate to contact Sue Balcom at sbalcom@farrms.org or visit www.ndfarmtoschool.org for recipes and downloadable posters for celebrating agriculture in North Dakota.

Some of the goodies in our prize package include:

  • The Founding Fathers Cookbook and two water bottles from the ND Farmers Union
  • A tee shirt and pad-folio from the Farm Bureau
  • A squash cookbook from Dr. Abby Gold and NDSU Extension
  • Oklahoma’s Farm to School Cookbook with recipes created specifically for school lunches.
  • A $50 gift certificate for meat or fiber from Morning Joy Farm, Mercer
  • Jar of honey vanilla peach butter from Roving Donkey Farm, Bismarck
  • Lip balms, a body butter, and a goat milk soap from Feral Farm, Rolette
  • Two full sets of ND Harvest of the Month posters and 3 Veggication posters
  • ND Legendary pleather tote
  • Glass cutting board from NDAREC
  • Cookbook, tablet and pen from Northharvest Bean
  • There will be a second and third prize drawing also.

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Demand for local food in rural communities is growing. Sustainable local food systems need to have strong community support to build and maintain the infrastructure needed to bring food from farm to fork. This website provides resources to support rural communities just beginning to build their community food systems as well as those whose local food systems are already strong. Resources are intended for farmers and producers, community organizations, and Extension Educators but may interest anyone in community and local foods. While this website was a partnership between Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, most resources are applicable for any rural community.

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