Author Archives: Kristin Liepold

Minnesota strawberry season is underway

Pick-Your-Own strawberry fields are in full swing across the state. Minnesota producers, especially in southern and central regions, are in the heart of the picking seasons and will be wrapping up within the next week or two.

Some northern berry farms, such as Ter-Lee Gardens, will open their season within the first week of July. Like many Minnesota Grown strawberry farms, Ter-Lee Gardens offers both pre-picked and pick-your-own berries. Katherine Brozek of Hilltop Harvest LLC in Redwood Falls offers some berry picking advice.

“Picking strawberries is a great family activity,” said Brozek. “Remember to dress comfortably for the weather and wear sunscreen.” Growers also recommend calling ahead or checking the Facebook page of your local strawberry farm for availability, hours of operation, and prime picking times.

Strawberries should be eaten within three days of picking for optimum freshness and washed just before consuming. For longer preservation, wash the berries, remove their stems, and freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. After freezing, place the strawberries in Ziploc bags.

The Minnesota Grown directory includes 80 strawberry farms, 31 blueberry farms, and 41 summer raspberry farms, along with apple orchards, farmers markets, garden centers, and other places to buy directly from farmers. Search the directory by region or product to find a berry farm in your area. Order a free printed copy of the directory online or by calling 651-201-6469.

Minnesota strawberry fields now in bloom

Season will begin mid- to late June

St. Paul, MN: Minnesota strawberry producers have reported that fields are blooming. Growers anticipate that the 2017 season will begin mid- to late June for central and southern Minnesota, while farms in northern Minnesota expect to open in early July.

Julie Townsend of Dassel Hillside Berry Farm has already determined an opening day for the central Minnesota pre-picked/pick-your-own operation.

“We did not have frost and the strawberries are blooming,” said Townsend. “We are expecting to open the week of June 11.”

Thaddeus McCamant, specialty crop management instructor at Central Lakes College, notes that cool spring conditions have slowed ripening and extended the season for many Minnesota growers. Mild temperatures and adequate moisture this spring will likely improve the color, size, and taste of this year’s crop.

Ter-Lee Gardens in northwestern Minnesota will likely open their season the first week in July. Like many Minnesota Grown strawberry farms, Ter-Lee Gardens offers both pre-picked and pick-your-own berries. Katherine Brozek of Hilltop Harvest LLC in Redwood Falls offers some berry picking advice.

“Picking strawberries is a great family activity,” said Brozek. “Remember to dress comfortably for the weather and wear sunscreen.” Growers also recommend calling ahead or checking the Facebook page of your local strawberry farm for availability, hours of operation, and prime picking times.

Strawberries should be eaten within three days of picking for optimum freshness and washed just before consuming. For longer preservation, wash the berries, remove their stems, and freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. After freezing, place the strawberries in Ziploc bags.

The Minnesota Grown directory includes 80 strawberry farms, 31 blueberry farms, and 41 summer raspberry farms, along with apple orchards, farmers markets, garden centers, and other places to buy directly from farmers. Search the directory by region or product to find a berry farm in your area. Order a free printed copy of the directory online at www.minnesotagrown.com or by calling 651-201-6469.

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Contact

Alauna Yust, MDA Communications
651-201-6629
alauna.yust@state.mn.us

June Pick of the Month Newsletter has been released

Sweet Strawberries are in Season

We spoke with strawberry producers across the state about the upcoming season, asked for some preservation and freezing tips, and even got a delicious Strawberry Shortcake Bars recipe. “Strawberry picking is a family activity,” said Katherine Brozek of Hilltop Harvest Strawberry Farm in Redwood Falls. “We love to watch young kids learn where their food comes from.” Click here to learn more about the 2017 berry season.

Don’t Be a Bird Brain!

Good food safety practices are important for all foods, including locally grown and organic foods. Minnesota Grown member Jane Jewett of Willow Sedge Farm shared some of her insights on food safety. Given the hard work farmers are doing to sell high-quality, safe food, it’s important that customers help keep food safe in transport and at home. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends four simple steps for food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. Read the full article on food safety here.

Shop Local at the Farmers’ Market

We’re all about local at Minnesota Grown. This month, we’re celebrating one of our favorite ways to shop lots of Minnesota Grown members in one stop: farmers’ markets! June is opening month for many summer farmers’ markets. Strawberries bloom and ripen, fresh flowers and herbs abound, and products like jams and jellies, honey, meat, and eggs are available and easy to find. Click here to learn more about Minnesota farmers’ markets.

Member Spotlight: Redhead Creamery, LLC

We are not moo-staken… June is National Dairy Month! To celebrate, we talked with Alise Sjostrom from Redhead Creamery, LLC. After Alise spent time learning the trade in Vermont and Wisconsin, she and her husband Lucas moved back home to Minnesota, joining her parents to launch Redhead Creamery. In 2013/2014, the family built a cheese plant on their dairy farm in Brooten and the business has continued to grow. Today, Redhead Creamery sells cheese in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, and will soon be selling in Illinois. Check out their full interview here.

 

May Pick of the Month newsletter has been released

Pairing meats with Minnesota Wines

We asked Scott Ellenbecker of Round Lake Vineyards & Winery to offer some insight on pairing entrees with Minnesota made wines. “Everything in wine is balance,” he explained. “Think about flavor ad balance. No food, spice, or ingredient should dominate another.” Click here for ideas for pairing your favorite proteins with Minnesota made wines.

Member Spotlight: Helstrom Farms

It is National Beef Month! The Minnesota Grown Directory has 108 beef producers! We talked with Jason Helstrom about his grass-fed beef farm and their positive impact on the environment. “Through proper management, we can reverse our carbon footprint and improve the environment,” he said. Click here to read his full interview.

Guest Blog: The Sip on Local Wine

We invited Lauren Voigt from Minnesota Uncorked to discuss the Minnesota wine industry and its impact on the economy. Click here for Lauren’s full blog post.

Local Gardening Tips

Spring is here, which means it is time to spruce up your outdoor space! Minnesota Grown members and nursery centers have plenty of options to help with your gardening needs. We talked with Bachman’s Floral, Home and Garden and the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association for their insight on bedding plants. Click here for the full article.

 

April Pick of the Month Newsletter

Minnesota Grown directories have arrived

Minnesota Grown directories are here! With more than 1,000 farms, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, and farmers’ markets, this is the largest-ever Minnesota Grown directory. Visit the Minnesota Grown website to order your free copy today.

Celebrating conservation with Mighty Axe Hops

With National Beer Month and Earth Day both falling in April, we thought it was the perfect time to check in with Eric Sannerud of  Mighty Axe Hops. Sannerud is one of seven Minnesota Grown members producing local hops. He’s also a Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) certified farmer. Click here for more information about Sannerud’s involvement with MAWQCP. To read the in-depth interview with Eric Sannerud, check out the March Pick of the Month Member Spotlight. Find a hops grower near you by searching “Hops for Brewing” in your Minnesota Grown directory.

Sign up for a CSA today

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms offer a great way to connect with a local farmer. Sign up for a CSA share and have fresh, locally-grown produce available throughout the growing season. Lots of CSA farms are gearing up for summer and may have limited shares available. Find a CSA near you in the 2017 Minnesota Grown directory.

An Interview with Aaron Brand

Brand Farms started out as a dairy farm, but has expanded to include nearly 2,500 laying hens and a 12-acre apple orchard. Last year, Brand Farms washed, packaged, and sold nearly 13,000 dozen eggs at farmers markets south of the Twin Cities. They also sell wholesale to HyVee. We visited owner and operator Aaron Brand to learn more about his family’s operation. You can read Aaron’s full interview here.

Minnesota Grown announces Retailer of the Year winners

 ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Grown program announced the winners of its annual Retailer of the Year contest today in conjunction with the Minnesota Grocers Association. Assistant Commissioner Andrea Vaubel presented awards at the annual Minnesota Grocers Association luncheon in Bloomington. Four regional winners and the annual People’s Choice award were announced.

“Grocers make it possible for Minnesotans to buy fresh, locally-grown produce and agricultural products,” said Assistant Commissioner Vaubel. “Each of the winning retailers has shown commitment to promoting Minnesota grown and raised foods, and we’re happy to commend their efforts today.”

The four regional Minnesota Grown Retailer of the Year winners are:

·         Super One Foods, Baxter – Northwest

·         Chris’ Food Center, Sandstone – Northeast

·         Kowalski’s Market, Woodbury – Twin Cities

·         Lunds and Byerlys, St. Cloud – West Central

An additional People’s Choice award for the best display was also presented based on a combination of fan voting on the Minnesota Grown Facebook page and judges’ evaluation for use of the Minnesota Grown logo.

Festival Foods in Bloomington won the People’s Choice Award for Best Display.

In addition to a commemorative plaque, winners received the exclusive rights to use the Minnesota Grown Retailer of the Year logo in their ads and displays for the next year.

The Minnesota Grown Directory has arrived!

The 2017 Minnesota Grown Directory has arrived. The newest version boasts 1,031 member listings of local food and products from Minnesota producers. These listings include apple orchards, farmers markets, honey producers, berry patches, wineries, livestock producers, locally raised plants and more.

The directories are distributed in boxes of 75. Online, please specify number of directories you would like versus number of boxes. Regardless of number requested, you can order your copy online or send an email to Kristin at Kristin.liepold@state.mn.us with your name, address and quantity.

The directory is also available online. This feature makes it easy to find farms via product, city, zip code, or the interactive map.

Now accepting pre-orders for the 2017 Minnesota Grown Directory

Minnesota Grown is now accepting pre-orders for the 2017 Minnesota Grown Directory. The newest version boasts 1,031 member listings of local food and products from Minnesota producers. These listings include apple orchards, farmers markets, honey producers, berry patches, wineries, livestock producers, locally raised plants and more.

The Directory remains organized by regions, so consumers can find local producers in their area quickly and easily. One can search for a specific product or farm through the product index or alphabetical index located in the back. The Directory also includes recipes and regionally inspired restaurants, featured by Minnesota Cooks. Minnesota Cooks is an education outreach program of Minnesota Farmers Union that celebrates Minnesota’s dedicated family farmers and the talented local foods-minded chefs and restaurant owners.

The directories are distributed in boxes of 75. Once they are back from the printer in early April, we will ship them to you for free within a few business days. You can order your copy online or send an email to Kristin at Kristin.liepold@state.mn.us with your name, address and quantity.

The directory is also available online. This feature makes it easy to find farms via product, city, zip code, or the interactive map.

Minnesota Grown February Pick of the Month Newsletter

Buy Local Meat for the Home Freezer
Tired of getting home after a long day and not knowing what to make for dinner? Having a freezer full of locally grown meat can help solve your dilemma! We explored the option of buying meat from local producers. We can help first-time buyers in our three-part series to buy local meat. Read part one here and learn what questions you should ask.  After you are comfortable about what to say, read part two and learn about the different cuts available.

Cooking Tips for the Heart
February is American Heart Month. It’s important to eat heart-healthy and increasing your servings of local fruits and vegetables is a great place to start! We talked with a few of our members to get cooking tips. Read them here. 

Keep Warm with Locally Raised Fibers
There are many reasons why an article of clothing made from natural fibers may be the right choice to add to your wardrobe. Natural fibers like wool, alpaca and mohair products retain warmth, wick away moisture and are fire resistant. Read about more here and learn more about raising alpacas in our interview with member Hollyhock Creations here.

Minnesota Wild Rice

Minnesota is one of the world’s largest producers of cultivated wild rice. We produce 5-10 million pounds annually! There are lots of ways to incorporate wild rice into your appetizers, breads, soups, entrees and more. Check out this tasty recipe for Wild Rice Teriyaki Steak Salad. You can use Minnesota Grown steak too! To learn more about wild rice from the Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council, click here.

Get the Most from your CSA
Get the most from your CSA! Participating in a CSA is a great adventure. You get the chance to eat fresh produce that’s sourced locally and supports your local economy! You also get to take home some of the more uncommon vegetables like celeriac that you may have never tried before. Unlike grocery stores where you have access to the same produce year-round, the food in your CSA share is season-dependent, meaning you probably won’t get tomatoes in June or asparagus in August. You’ll begin to learn when foods are in season and receive a variety of produce that changes weekly!

Strawberries – Are you Ready?

 

Strawberry season starts early for parts of Minnesota

Pick-your-own, pre-picked available early June

Minnesota strawberries are ahead of schedule and the season is shaping up nicely. Many growers in Southern Minnesota and the metro area have reported fields full of blossoms and are now seeing reddening berries. Some have picked their first light harvest of the season, while others expect to open for pick-your-own/pre-picked sales as early as the first two weeks in June.

Farmers across the state expect a good crop this year. The mild winter coupled with adequate moisture in the spring helps make sizeable and delicious strawberries. Although some farms lost early blossoms to the mid-May freeze and may see slightly smaller crop quantities, the quality of this season’s crop was not affected. Many farms weathered the freeze with little to no adverse effects on crops.

Typically, seasonal availability begins in the south and moves northward 10-14 days later. Many farmers agree that the season will likely extend longer than usual, wrapping up around mid- to late July. Mild temperatures in the 70s and low 80s extend the season and allow berries to ripen at a steady pace, while excessive heat can cause the berries to ripen more quickly and shorten the season.

As always, it is important to call your local berry farm before your visit. Crops can vary greatly and differ from farm to farm depending on the varieties planted, soil type, and the number of customers picking.

Minnesota Grown Program spokesperson Jessica Miles says berry picking is a great educational family activity.

“Picking is lots of fun and it’s an easy way to get children to the farm so they can see where food comes from. The early season is great timing with school being let out soon,” says Miles. “To make sure your picking day is a success, remember to wear comfortable clothes and shoes and don’t forget your hat and sunscreen.”

Miles says the printed Minnesota Grown Directory and website provide ideas for picking, eating, and storing locally-grown strawberries. Consumers can easily find their nearest berry farm by visiting www.minnesotagrown.com and searching by city or zip code.  The 2016 Minnesota Grown Directory includes 76 strawberry farms, 31 blueberry farms, and 40 summer raspberry farms along with orchards, farmers markets, garden centers, and other ways to buy directly from growers. Consumers can order their free printed copy of the Directory online at www.minnesotagrown.com or by calling 1-888-TOURISM (1-888-868-7476).