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A Local Sweet Treat

 

It’s maple syrup season in Minnesota! Stu Peterson of Camp Aquila Pure Maple Syrup gave us insight into Minnesota’s maple syrup industry, how maple sap is collected and made into syrup, and shared his favorite uses of the sugary treat.

Camp Aquila Pure Maple Syrup

Before Camp Aquila was purchased by Stu and Corinne Peterson in 1983, it was a boys’ summer camp.  The camp’s owner wanted to ensure that whoever he sold the land to would not “cut it up and develop it.” When they purchased the land, they invited the DNR to develop a forest stewardship plan because 60-70% of the land was heavily wooded, and they determined it would be a great opportunity for a sugar bush (a maple sugaring operation). The thought of tapping their own maple trees really appealed to Stu and Corinne and after the idea ruminated for some years, they tapped their first 50 maple trees in 2000. They stayed at 50 taps until they built their own dedicated sugar house, purchased a commercial evaporator, and got a license for production. Today, Camp Aquila Pure Maple Syrup taps around 1,300 maples annually and sell most of their syrup wholesale to stores in Minnesota.

The Science of Sap and Syrup

Stu gave us a lesson on the basics of sap collection and syrup. Maple sap is collected in spring when nights get below freezing and days are warm. These freeze-thaw cycles cause the sap to “run” and makes it easy to collect. Because sap flow is so dependent on temperature, maple syrup production begins in the southern part of the state and moves north as the season progresses. It continues to flow as tree buds begin to form, and then begins to slow. However, the chemistry of the sap begins to change when the tree buds and produces a syrup with an off-flavor that is less valuable on the market. When maple sap first begins to run, the syrup produced tends to be much lighter and darkens as the season continues. This change in color also indicates a change in taste. Lighter syrup will have a more delicate, subtle flavor and as it darkens, flavors deepen and become stronger.

Sap is the only ingredient in pure maple syrup. After it’s collected, all the water is evaporated until only the sugary syrup is left. Typically, it takes around 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. Camp Aquila can usually collect anywhere from five to seven gallons of sap per tree during the season. The amount they collect varies tremendously on the weather. During their least productive year, Camp Aquila collected an average of two gallons per tree, and their best year yielded an average of 10 gallons per tree. Camp Aquila uses a nonpermanent gravity system to collect their sap.

Larger commercial operations will use a vacuum to extract sap from their trees, doubling the amount of sap they collect. Vacuum systems don’t technically suck sap from the trees, but lowers the pressure in the tubing and encourages sap flow. They are no more damaging to the tree than a gravity system. A main cause of excessive harm to a tree while sugaring is too many taps. Camp Aquila and most other producers adhere to the standard of a single tap in each tree per year and two if the tree is large. Four to five taps in a tree was previously used as the standard, but is now considered to be harmful.

Minnesota Maple Syrup

Maple syrup can only be produced in a specific region in North America and nowhere else in the world. Minnesota is lucky to be one of 19 states in the U.S. and 3 Canadian provinces that can produce maple syrup. The state is not included in the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service’s annual maple survey, so it’s difficult to report hard numbers on how many producers are in Minnesota, the number of maples tapped, and how much maple syrup is made. Stu speculates there are probably around 125,000 or more taps in Minnesota producing roughly 35,000 gallons of syrup including hobbyists and professionals. With a gallon of pure maple syrup retailing for around $75, it’s a two to three million dollar industry.

Based on these numbers, describes Minnesota maple syrup as a boutique industry. Commercial operations tend to be smaller and maintain an average of 2,500-3,500 taps or fewer like Camp Aquila. Additionally, there are many hobbyists making maple syrup just for themselves and do not sell it. The largest maple sugaring operations in the state (there only a couple) maintain around 25,000 taps—comparatively smaller than maple states to the east. The largest commercial operations tend to exist in the more eastern states like Vermont and New York. In some cases, a sugar bush in Vermont taps more trees than all the producers in Minnesota combined.

Minnesota maple syrup has a peculiar advantage to the maple syrup produced in other states. The sugar content of Minnesota maple sap tends to be higher than other states; though no one is quite sure why. Most maple states out east tend to collect sap with a 2% sugar content, while Minnesota producers like Camp Aquila Pure Maple Syrup consistently collect sap with a 3% sugar content. This higher sugar content decreases the amount of sap it takes to make a gallon of syrup.

New Grading System

The U.S. and Canada have adopted a new grading system for maple syrup to better differentiate flavors. Previously, maple syrup was graded: Grade A light amber, Grade A medium amber, Grade A dark amber, Grade B, and Substandard Grade. Grade B was popular for cooking and baking because of its deep, rich flavor and was raised to Grade A in the new grading system. All maple syrup is now considered Grade A and is still differentiated by color and flavor.

Grade A golden color is described as having a delicate taste, equivalent to the previous Grade A light amber. Grade A amber color is said to have a rich taste, Grade A dark color has a robust flavor and Grade A very dark has a strong flavor.

This infographic from Anderson’s Maple Syrup shows how the old grading system translates into the new grades.

Enjoying your Minnesota maple syrup

Maple syrup is more than a simple pancake topping and can be added to many recipes as a sweetener while adding its signature flavor. Stu gave us lots of ideas for using maple syrup in everyday meals. For breakfast, Stu replaces refined brown sugar with his maple syrup as a sweetener in oatmeal. In addition to maple syrup, he enjoys adding dried cherries or cranberries, a dash of cinnamon, banana slices, and a small pat of real butter to his oatmeal.

He also adds it to his “secret sauce” he uses for a glaze when grilling or drizzles over an entrée and says it’s particularly delicious with burgers, pork and salmon. We were fortunate enough to be let in on Stu’s secret recipe: one part Camp Aquila Pure Maple Syrup, one part honey mustard (his favorite brand is Space Aliens), and one third Masterpiece Original Barbeque sauce. For sweet a side dish enhancement, Stu suggests topping your sweet potatoes or squash with maple syrup, pepper, and butter.

For dessert, try a Camp Aquila sundae. It includes a scoop of fresh French vanilla ice cream sprinkled with cinnamon, a couple table spoons of Camp Aquila Pure Maple Syrup, and top with whip cream, chopped nuts, and a cherry.

Looking for more recipes or information on Minnesota maple syrup production? Visit the Minnesota Maple Syrup Producers’ Association.

 Minnesota Grown Directory

The Minnesota Grown Directory has information on over thirty maple syrup producers in Minnesota. These members are a great resource for consumers to learn more about maple syrup and to buy local!

 

Member Spotlight: Mighty Axe Hops

We talked with Eric Sannerud and Ben Boo of Mighty Axe Hops for the March Minnesota Grown member spotlight. Going into the fifth season, they have expanded from 25 test plot plants to 80,000 plants for the 2017 season. Named after the Minnesota icon Paul Bunyon, Mighty Axe Hops has two locations: Ham Lake and Foley.

Minnesota Grown: What is your background in the industry?
Mighty Axe Hops: We started in 2013 with 25 plant test plots.  The next year, 2014, we grew 200 plants. Then, 1100 in season three, 40,000 last year and 80,000 this year.

MG: How many pounds of hops does it take to brew one barrel of beer?
MAH: One acre of hops is about 1500 pounds. It takes 1.5 pounds of hops for one barrel of beer, depending on the brewer. There are 32 gallons per barrel.

MG: How do you maintain water efficiently?
MAH: We are environmentally intentional with our practices. Our Ham Lake location is Agricultural Water Quality certified. We have a drip system on the hops to avoid waste. We use cover crop on 90% of the field. Hops take up a lot of water but cannot sit in water. They evolved on river banks with flowing water. The ambient humidity causes Downy Mildew.

MG: What is the hops to beer process?
MAH: Throughout the months of August and September, we will harvest the hops. The challenge is that you are harvesting a flower that needs to be dried or brewed within 12-24 hours to avoid spoilage. A tractor with a bine cart will drive through the field and will cut strings of hops, vines and leaves out of field and will be put into a wagon. It will then be backed up to the picking facilities and the pile of strings will be dropped off. People grab the strings (with the vines on it) and put them on the picking and sorting machines. Once they are sorted, conveyor belts will take the hops to the dryer, where they will be dried down to 10% moisture. Then, the hops get conditioned and cooled off, packed into a bale, and put into the freezer. Once all the harvesting is over, all bales are taken out of the freezer and pelletized.

MG: What is the benefit of pelleted hops?
MAH: All orders from the brewery depend on the type of beer being brewed. We sell wet, baled and pelleted with varying sizes of orders and varieties. The benefit of pelleted hops would be the brewing process. It is easier for the brewer to extract the flavors and chemically mix it with their own ingredients. It is also easier to store and transport.

MG: Which local breweries order your hops?
MAH: We sell to Fulton, Fair State, Bad Weather, Dangerous Man, and Lupulin Brewing Company. These are all Minnesota breweries!

MG: How has the Minnesota Hops Growers Association helped farmers who want to start growing hops?
MAH: I (Ben) am on the Minnesota Hops Growers Association Board. Farmers start on a small scale. The Minnesota hops industry is growing because of dedicated local farmers. The MHGA has helped the members through educational seminars about certain industry topics pertaining to health, equipment and economics.

MG: Why should you purchase local beer?
MAH: Right now, most hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest and Germany. The Midwest is growing in production. Although we have the same varieties, we can extract a different taste. If you buy local, you have a social connection to the beer. It also helps the local economy with 90% of money spent staying in Minnesota. The ingredients are local and it feels cool to purchase from a local farmer.

We would like to thank Mighty Axe Hops for talking with us for the March Member Spotlight. The Minnesota Grown Directory has information about other local farmers who sell hops.

Think Local this St. Patrick’s Day

Green beer may be a St. Patrick’s Day staple, but it all starts with the hops! The Minnesota Grown Directory currently has seven members who grow hops for brewing and sell to local breweries.  We talked with member John Dotseth from Six Fingers Farms in Beaver Township to learn about growing hops.

Six Fingers Farm supplies hops to small breweries and home brewers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas and New York State. He could supply the hops to brew a ten-gallon batch or enough to supply a fifteen-barrel brew house! Since there is a smaller production in Minnesota, they supply brewers with fresh whole cone hops with a moisture of 68% as a seasonal harvest brew. Otherwise, they offer a 9% moisture, dried whole cone and pelletized hops for specialty brews.

The soil conditions to grow hops on their farm are a mixture of clay, sand and gravel. Different varieties need specific soil conditions such as loamy, wet, or dry soil. This year, Six Fingers Farm is running tests to identify the ideal soil for northern conditions, especially with the moisture coming from Lake Superior. “Hops love water, but they hate being wet,” Dotseth told Minnesota Grown. “We have to watch the humidity and fog.”

Minnesota hops farmers must protect their crop from Downy Mildew. Dotseth says that their farm uses organic practices. They also utilize cover crops to recycle the organic matter in the soil.

It takes four to five years for hops to fully mature. They are an annual and will produce for fifteen to twenty years with good production. The harvesting season for hops is August to September. Smaller farms pick the crop by hand. Inspired by German engineering, larger farms have a stripping wheel or machine to efficiently harvest the crop.

There are many hops varieties available and they all provide a different taste profile for beer. HopsYard 46 has operated a commercial hop yard in Moose Lake since 2013. They have the varieties Cascade, Chinook, Brewers Gold, Spalter Select, and Nugget.

“The culture for brewing has changed,” said Six Finger Farms. “Some want hoppy flavor with high alpha acid; others want a less bitter like the Saaz variety.” Analytics are available to determine the alpha and beta acids in the hops and are sent to the brewers so they can balance their brewing process.

Local breweries are a great way to support agriculture! Minnesota has such diversity in products available for consumers. “I love Minnesota Grown,” said Dotseth. “It is a great resource for consumers.” University of Minnesota and Minnesota Hops Growers Association also have some information about research in the Minnesota hops industry. Remember, St. Patrick’s Day is on March 17; enjoy your green beer at a local brewery!

Buying Local Meat for Your Home Freezer-Part 3

We have reached part three of our series “Buying Local Meat for Your Home Freezer.” To start, we discussed the conversation to have with your local famer. Next, we dove into the cuts of meat available to meet your family’s needs. In this issue, we will discuss the proper way to store your locally purchased meat. Minnesota Grown members have some tips to keep your meat fresh while storing it at home.

Willow Sedge Farm raises grass-fed Hereford beef, grass-fed lamb and pastured pork in Palisade, Minnesota.  They suggest keeping temperatures below zero degrees and not allowing temperatures to fluctuate. If there is a power outage or accidental unplugging of the freezer, meat that partially thaws but still has ice crystals on it can be re-frozen, but then should be used soon after. If meat thaws completely but is still cold, cook first and then re-freeze it. If meat thaws completely and gets above 41 degrees F, throw it away.

Little Boom Farm is located in Maple Lake and raises beef, chickens and deer. They suggested taking the meat out of the butcher paper and vacuum shrink-wrapping it, regardless of the size of the cut, before putting it in the freezer. This will preserve the color and taste. It will also protect it from unwanted aromas from the freezer. If white butcher wrap is being used, Willow Sedge Farms recommends that it should be the heavy duty kind that is glossy on the innermost side.

Want more resources on how to properly store meat? There are limitations to how long meat should be stored. University of Minnesota Extension, the Minnesota Department of Health and the FDA have more information on storing meat, fish and eggs in the freezer. For specific freezing and food safety articles, check out USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service information.

We have wrapped up the three-part series on buying local meat! We would like to thank all members who raise livestock and those who have contributed to this series. Use the Minnesota Grown Directory to browse the 120+ members who raise beef, pork, or lamb at a farm near you.

Getting 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. At Tangletown, they like to push the limits of what they offer. There’s plenty of the staple crops making up the basis of their shares (carrots, corn, potatoes, greens), but they also like to provide a couple items you may not normally try. Exposing yourself to foods you may not have otherwise eaten is a part of the fun! 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!

Photo courtesy of Tangletown
Photo courtesy of Tangletown

CSAs aren’t only about the food. Being a part of the CSA directly connects you to those providing your food. The unique relationships CSAs offer can be a terrific resource for getting the most out of your experience. Get to know your grower! Share your feedback on what you liked and didn’t like in your share, ask them about their favorite recipes, or schedule a farm visit to see how your food is grown. Ask other members picking up their shares for cooking recommendations or their go-to CSA-sourced meals. Many find their interactions with growers and other members to be just as rewarding as the food they take home.

Photo courtesy of Tangletown
Photo courtesy of Tangletown

Picking Your Share

CSAs are as diverse as the shares they offer. Each CSA offers different produce, drop-off locations, and growing practices. Many also offer different sizes. The most common are full shares that typically feed a family of four and half shares that feed two. Some CSAs also offer a micro share that can be perfect for one person or those new to CSAs. If you’re unsure of which size is right for you, Dean suggests starting small and working your way up. This prevents you from getting too overwhelmed and gives you a good introduction to CSAs with minimal commitment. Ask your grower if they offer share upgrades. You may be able to upgrade to a larger share if you find yourself wanting more produce in the middle of the season.

Decide what you want from your CSA and take the time to get to know ones you’re interested in before purchasing a share. You can get insight into their growing practices, learn what to look forward to getting in your share, and find out if they have a convenient drop site. Knowing what to expect from your CSA will prevent you from getting overwhelmed or disappointed with your share.

Extending the CSA Season

CSA produce isn’t just for the summer season. With proper storage, you can continue eating food from your CSA through the winter! It’s easier than you thought, too. Keep your greens fresh by sealing them in a plastic bag and freezing. Better yet, if you have lots of produce you won’t eat right away, chop them up and freeze them together as ready-made soup mixes. Premade bags of vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes, and greens can easily be combined with broth and spices for a great soup in the winter.

 

Dean likes to challenge his CSA members to extend their CSA season by learning new canning and preserving skills. Don’t worry, you won’t need to be stuck in your kitchen all weekend. There are quick, convenient recipes that allow you to make great products effortlessly in just one evening. Take a look at www.foodinjars.com/recipe-index for a massive list of recipes that will give you tons of options for preserving your fruits and vegetables. Try making quick pickles, sauces, sauerkraut, or other kitchen-processed foods so you can enjoy local produce all year long!

Photo courtesy of Tangletown
Photo courtesy of Tangletown

Dean's Words of Wisdom

“CSAs are not for everybody, but I think for the vast majority of people that go into it with the right mindset and the desire to actually make something great out of it, it can be wonderful.” If you aren’t interested in preparing your own food or eating lots of different produce, your CSA membership could end up feeling like a chore. Dean often stresses the importance of viewing your CSA share as a challenge to try new things. Try making a cold summer soup recipe, canning homemade salsa, or eating that vegetable you hated as a kid. Taking these small steps will build your confidence and show you that it’s easier to do than you may have thought. Soon, you’ll find yourself with a whole new set of cooking skills and an appreciation for foods you may have never imagined enjoying!

When Scott Endres and Dean Engelmann started Tangletown Gardens in 2003, it was a garden center offering annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs grown on their farm. After couple of years, they became interested in offering fresh produce grown on their farm and began supplying ingredients for Wise Acre Eatery and selling CSA memberships. Today, their CSA is wildly popular, expanding to an average of 650-750 shares sold annually.

Tangletown Gardens

Maintaining a sustainable, resilient farm is at the forefront of Tangletown Gardens’ production system. To do this, Scott and Dean created a farm model that focuses on the symbiotic relationships between their crops and livestock. According to Dean, “in order to be a biological farm in the way that we are, we need plant and animals interacting in a symbiotic relationship. The plant life ultimately feeds the animals and the animals ultimately provide nutrients to the next set of plant life. It’s a really beautiful system.”

Scott
staff in field

Meet the Farmers

Scott Endres and Dean Engelmann

 from

Tangletown Gardens

 Minneapolis, MN

Maintaining a sustainable, resilient farm is at the forefront of Tangletown Gardens’ production system. To do this, Scott and Dean created a farm model that focuses on the symbiotic relationships between their crops and livestock.

“In order to be a biological farm in the way that we are, we need plant and animals interacting in a symbiotic relationship. The plant life ultimately feeds the animals and the animals ultimately provide nutrients to the next set of plant life. It’s a really beautiful system.”

Keep Warm with Locally Raised Fibers

Minnesota Grown Pick of the Month – January/February 2017

Clothing made from wool, alpaca and mohair are excellent temperature regulators. These fibers are excellent insulators, trapping still air within the fibers and keeping it close to the body while still allowing your skin to breathe. Because of their natural oils, they can repel small amounts of liquid such as light rain or snow. Wool also keeps 80% of its insulation value even if saturated with liquid, keeping you “warm while wet.”

Clothes made from these fibers are also comfortable and durable. It does not wrinkle easily, and is resistant to wear and tear while being lightweight and versatile. These fibers can withstand bending nearly 20,000 times without breaking. Compare this to cotton, which can bend 3,000 times before breaking, or rayon, which can bend only 75 times before breaking!

Additionally, purchasing and wearing clothing made from natural fibers reduces waste since they are 100% biodegradable. Natural fiber clothing is an eco-friendly and sustainable option. Animals like sheep, alpaca and llama are frequently sheared as a way to keep them healthy and happy in the summer months.

We enjoyed talking with member Hollyhock Creations in this month’s member spotlight. Read our interview here.

Yarn

Icelandic Sheep Yarn Courtesy of Lydia’s Flock

Purchasing local fibers and supporting Minnesota farm families who raise sheep, alpacas, llamas, etc. is a great way to help your local economy. If you are ready to make a fashionable, economic and eco-friendly clothing choice choose natural fibers from a Minnesota Grown wool, alpaca or mohair producer for your next wardrobe choice!

Thank you to the American Sheep Industry Association for providing us with much of this information and for their work in supporting American sheep farmers.

Cooking Tips for the Heart

Minnesota Grown Pick of the Month – January/February 2017

The American Heart Association suggests eating 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day to lower blood pressure. Minnesota Grown members have some insight on cooking tips to add variety to meal time without adding salt, sugar or saturated fats. Locally grown fruit and vegetable producers can be found on the Minnesota Grown Directory.

Minnesota Grown member Warnke Farm, located in Big Lake, suggests adding color to your meal with a variety of fruits and vegetables. In order to reduce sodium consumption, they suggest adding sodium-free seasonings. They make a chipotle seasoning that can be used on all vegetables!

Fruits and vegetables contain natural sugars. Located in Stanchfield, Jake’s Apple Shack suggests purchasing “tree-fresh, tree-ripe” apples. Locally grown apples, especially varieties such as SweeTango, are picked at the ideal time to optimize flavor and sweetness. Jake shared that he makes applesauce for his diabetic neighbor, without adding any sugar!

Roasting is a healthy way to prepare vegetables. Located in Bird Island, Minnesota, family owned Lundstrum’s Vegetables suggests baking vegetables at 350 degrees for one hour or until they can be cut with a fork. They enjoy roasting fall root crops such as onions, garlic, squash and much more!  Flavor up the locally grown produce with olive oil and seasoning salt.

For more heart healthy eating ideas, visit The American Heart Association’s website.

Make the Cut – Part 2

 

Minnesota Grown Pick of the Month – January/February 2017

In part one of the series, we discussed the conversation to have with your local farmer when buying meat. Now it is time to learn about the different options available. Cuts can vary in tenderness, flavor and cooking technique. We talked with Minnesota Grown members Pettit Pastures and Heiden Century Farms to offer some insight in buying beef. Pettit Pastures, located in Milaca, Minnesota, is a certified grass-fed beef farm that focuses on environmentally friendly practices. Heiden Century Farms is located in Rushford, Minnesota, where they raise Angus beef.

There are a variety of cuts of beef available for the consumer to choose. Minnesota Grown member Jake Pettit from Pettit Pastures shared that sirloin, rib eye and T-bone steaks are most common cuts in beef. His favorite cut of meat is the flank steak because of the flavor and tastefulness it can provide for a steak sandwich. Heiden Century Farms, LLC suggests that ground meat is the most versatile for consumers to purchase. They added that a roast added to a broth or gravy and cooked with low heat for a long period of time can increase tenderness.

There are many varieties of cuts available to meet your family’s needs. Check out the three charts provided that depict the cuts of beef, pork and lamb. The Minnesota Grown Directory can provide insight on the 120 members who provide beef, pork or lamb to their customers. Tune in next month to learn about storing meat in your home freezer.

Yarn

Member Spotlight: Hollyhock Alpaca Creations

Pick of the Month Newsletter - January 2017

Winter reminds us of our need for warm, durable fiber products. Hats, gloves, scarves, socks and insoles – they cover us from head to toe!

Why not make those local fibers? Minnesota Grown has over twenty producers who produce local fibers/textiles and animal products. We talked with Minnesota members Hollyhock Alpaca Creations about alpacas and their products.

Member Spotlight: Hollyhock Alpaca Creations

Grasston, Minnesota

Minnesota Grown: Tell us about your background with Alpacas.

Hollyhock Alpaca Creations: In 2002, we bought two bred Alpacas. We started by spinning and knitting the fiber. We also sold raw fiber. In 2015, we sold the animals to solely focus on the products. We now buy fiber from other farms to create our products. In 2016, after 10 years, we decided to take a break from farmer's markets, so we changed that to fiber festivals.  We sell our products at craft sales, farmers markets in Minnesota and online.

MG: What are the benefits of Alpaca Fiber products compared to wool?

Hollyhock: It is softer, warmer and it is a natural fiber. Compared to wool, it is less itchy, therefore people with sensitive skin can wear our products.

MG: Does it hold its quality, color and shape? Does it shrink?

Hollyhock: Alpaca Fiber has a wicking attribute, therefore you will stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.   It comes in many natural colors from white to black and all shades of brown, plus it is easy to dye.  Although it does hold its shape, alpacas are being bred to increase crimp frequency which will give the yarn better memory. Since it is a dense fiber, larger garments like sweater should use a thinner yarn to reduce stretching.  Like all natural fibers, it will shrink if exposed to hot water, soap and agitation. We shrink some products like hats and mittens on purpose, called Wet Felting, to pull the fiber together and ensure interlocking.  This results in a product that is nearly windproof.

MG: What products do you offer to Minnesotans?

Hollyhock: We offer socks, mittens, hats and baby blankets. My favorite product is the shoe insoles. Our Walk With Me Natural Fiber Insoles are perfect for those days with extended walking and standing! Made with 50% Alpaca and 50% wool, it can be worn with any shoe. Our website has more information about our products.

MG: What is your favorite memory with your business?

Hollyhock: I demonstrate spinning every year at Albany Pioneers Day in Albany, Minnesota. There is generally a group of school kids who come with a list of questions. I love to see the epiphany on their faces when they discover that it is not an easy process going from animal to clothing rack.

Thank you Hollyhock farms for sharing about your products. For more information about their products or to place an order, visit their website. Looking for an Alpaca Farm or products in your area? There are more producers listed in the Minnesota Grown Directory.

Join a Community Supported Agriculture Farm!

Pick of the Month Newsletter – January 2017

Would you like fresh, healthy and local food directly from the farm? Would you like a personal relationship with a local farmer? Check out the Minnesota Grown Directory to find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm near you! A CSA farm sells subscriptions or memberships to consumers who pay upfront for a share of fresh produce. The cost of a membership can vary depending on the product. This Minnesota Grown produce can be delivered or picked up once per week for an indicated amount of time.

Most CSA farms have a limited number of shares or memberships to sell. They are usually sold in winter and early spring! James Bauman of Farm Fresh CSA in Delano, Minnesota told us that joining CSA farms in January is ideal because it ensures a spot for a subscription later in the year!

Joining a CSA has many benefits! While providing a source to try new local foods, CSA farms promote adventurous cooking! Try a new recipe to spice up a weeknight meal! There is a shared risk to CSA farms. The producer can only supply what is produced, therefore weather can be a factor in amount of product available. Be sure to keep in contact with the farmer to see how the crop is progressing!

Still have questions or want to know what to expect when you join a farm? Check out the Minnesota Grown CSA page or the video below!