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Recipe: Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Rhubarb time is here! Looking for a new way to enjoy this spring favorite? This simple recipe shared by Carmen at Peter’s Pumpkins & Carmen’s Corn is a great one to try. Find fresh rhubarb at your local farmers market or contact one of our rhubarb growers.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow or white cake mix and listed ingredients
  • 6 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 cups miniature marshmallows
 Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. Spread the chopped rhubarb in an even layer on the bottom of greased 9×13 inch pan.
  3. Sprinkle sugar evenly over rhubarb. Sprinkle marshmallows over rhubarb and sugar.
  4. Prepare cake mix according to package instructions. Pour over rhubarb and marshmallows in pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto serving dish so that rhubarb is on top.

Grillin’ Up Local

Hot Disch farm yak steak prepared with rice and roasted veggies on a wooden carving board

Locally raised meat paired with nutritious vegetables, seasoned to perfection, and seared to a sizzle is the perfect depiction of grilling season. We talked with Minnesota Grown members Tony Kornder of Kornder Farms in Belle Plaine and Michael Jorgenson of Vangård Family Farm in Clinton about grillin’ up local meat and vegetables.

First, it is important to know the safe cooking temperatures and degrees of doneness for meat. To check the temperature, remember to insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and away from direct heat. The Minnesota Department of Health offers a printable chart of safe cooking temperatures for meat and eggs. For example, a safe cooking temperature for ground meat is 160˚ and poultry is 165˚.  Steaks, chops, and roasts must be a minimum of 145˚ but their degree of doneness can increase with longer grilling duration.

When it comes to cooking methods, it is important to consider the thickness of the meat and how the animal was fed. “We have two different ways we grill our two-inch cut ribeye,” said Kornder as he explained techniques for his thick-cut corn-fed beef. “One option is to sear it on the grill for a minute on each side and then bake it in the oven until the desired temperature. Alternatively, we could grill the meat until our desired temperature (or a few degrees before), let it rest for nine minutes, raise the temperature of the grill to high, and sear the steak to let it sizzle as it goes on your plate.”  Grass-fed beef is a little different for grilling because it is leaner than corn-fed beef. Jorgenson suggests to “give it a quick sear, one minute on each side, followed by a low and slow roast on the grill” until you reach your desired temperature.

Every grill is different, whether that be gas versus charcoal or its heat distribution across the grate. “It is most important to know your grill,” said Kornder. “You can always throw your meat back onto the grill if it is not done.” Once it is done, it is best to let your meat rest for a few minutes to prevent the juices from flowing out when you initially cut the meat. The rest time will vary depending on the thickness of the meat.

Grilled vegetables such as asparagus, onion, tomatoes, or peppers offer a colorful addition to your summer meal. First, moisten your vegetables and season to your liking. Next, place them on your grill (you may need to use tin foil to prevent small cut vegetables from falling through) and finally grill until soft and roasted. If you would like to get the kids involved in meal prep, kabobs are an easy and fun option. University of Minnesota Extension’s cutting board safety guidelines includes more food safety tips for cleaning and cutting vegetables.

Seasonings enhance the subtle flavor of white meats. Martin County Magic is a savory blend that is ideal for pork, chicken, and vegetables. Jorgenson recommended cayenne pepper on any meat to add a spicy spin. Although he emphasized a good steak doesn’t need seasoning, Kornder mentioned that olive oil and black pepper is a favorite for his family.

We are grillin’ up local foods this summer, will you? Minnesota Grown farmer members have plenty of in-season produce available. Additionally, we have local farmers who raise beef, pork, lamb, and poultry who sell directly to the customer. Thank you Tony Kornder and Michael Jorgenson for sharing your grilling techniques and seasoning favorites. Happy grilling!

 

Photo Courtesy of Hot Disch Farm.

Meet a Farmer: Sean and Jeff of HD Beef Works

Rolling down the gravel road, a sense of calm settles over you. It’s mid-April right after a major snowstorm, so the trees haven’t quite started budding, but it’s easy to imagine how the rolling hills and pockets of forest will be verdant and picturesque come May.

HD Beef Works is located 40 miles south of Minneapolis in Northfield. They specialize in grass-fed beef from start to finish and also offer pasture-raised pork and organically-raised chickens. Minnesota Grown had the opportunity to sit down with owners Jeff Docken and Sean Hebel, a father-in-law and son-in-law duo, to learn more about their third generation farm and philosophy.

Jeff and Sean beside their farm sign
Sean and Jeff, HD Beef Works in Northfield

Over the years, HD Beef Works has grown and changed. It all started in 1972 when Jeff’s late father purchased this farm just a mile down the road from his previous farm so he could have more space for his herd of dairy cattle. This allowed him to double his acreage from 80 acres to 160 acres. Jeff, his father, and father-in-law milked cows on the farm until 1993 and cut and baled hay for their herd and as a cash crop. Shortly after this Jeff decided to raise beef cattle while continuing to grow his own hay. In 1996 the farm made the change to 100% grass-fed at the suggestion of a physician who was a friend of the family. This change was very well received, especially amongst health-conscious customers. As Jeff shares, “Our grass-fed beef is sought out by chemo patients and body builders”. All of the grass and hay for the cattle is grown right on the farm.

In 2012 Jeff’s son-in-law, Sean, joined the operation full time. He is very passionate about the farm and caring for his animals. After Sean and Jeff began managing the farm together, they wanted to diversify and offer more for their customers with pasture-raised pork and organically-raised chickens. Currently HD Beef Works raises about 200 cows and calves on their 160-acre farm plus additional 140 acres of rented neighboring pastures. The herd consists of Angus and Angus cross-breeds. Jeff and Sean have observed that their cross-bred cattle are more vigorous and that the Scottish Highland crosses are especially suited for Minnesota’s climate – content in the cold of winter or the heat of summer. The farm focuses on sustainability through pasture rotation and organic methods. Their land is not treated with pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides, and the cattle are non-GMO and raised without the use of antibiotics.

The beef is processed in a state inspected facility, where it is butchered, dry-aged for 14 days, divided into individual cuts, vacuum packed, and frozen. The dry-aging process increases the tenderness of the meat by releasing tenderizing enzymes as well as relaxing the muscles as it hangs. Meat can be cut traditionally or per the specifications of the customer. Another factor effecting tenderness may be the growing conditions. Sean and Jeff believe that their beef has exceptional taste and tenderness because their animals are raised in a free-range, low stress environment.  They also shared that grass-fed beef is higher in Omega 3’s and is naturally 85-90% lean.

HD Beef Works sells to both individual customers and local restaurants. Their grass-fed burgers can be found on the menus of area restaurants, including Tavern Restaurant (Northfield), Depot Bar & Grill (Faribault), Bourbon Butcher (Farmington), and The Ole Store Restaurant (Northfield). Jeff and Sean understand that families come in all sizes (and so do their freezers!). For this reason, they offer a variety of purchase options including traditional quarter, half, and full as well as family packs and individual cuts. Orders can be picked up at the farm store where beef and pork cuts are in the freezer ready to go.

Thank you to Jeff and Sean for welcoming us out to the farm and sharing HD Beef Work's story.

Farmers Markets Open

Child choosing products at the market, looking at carrots and peppers
yellow flowers and purple flower lining.

Despite a delayed spring, farmers are ready for their local farmers markets to kick-off. We talked with Minnesota Grown members Lisa Phillips from Blue Skye Farms in Good Thunder, Lisa Smith from Prairies Past in Pipestone, Rory Butkiewicz from Moose Lake Area Farmers Market, Nancy Celler from St Paul Farmers Market, and Jessica Joyce from Rochester Downtown Farmers Market about their growing season, what to look for at the farmers market, and how markets are finding creative ideas to engage kids in healthy eating.

Minnesota farmers markets are opening throughout May. Despite weather delaying the start, our growing season is on track to fill the markets with a variety of fresh produce. “The weather will not slow [vegetable production] down,” Phillips of Blue Sky Farms reassured us. “It will just delay the start. We started our loose-leaf lettuce and radishes in the greenhouse…everything is growing.” Although Minnesota’s late spring may have postponed transplanting for farmers, most vegetable plants were started in the greenhouse or in basements. Smith of Prairies Past farm advises that every year is different and that Minnesota “will get warmer temperatures and the crops will catch up.”

What’s at the market now? St Paul Farmers Market and Rochester Farmers Market shared that shoppers can look forward to asparagus, rhubarb, baked goods, starter plants, lettuce, tomatoes, Swiss chard, and mushrooms. Be sure to look for unique finds like locally grown lavender and lavender oil at St Paul’s Farmers Market and hazelnuts at Rochester’s. Additionally, you’ll find a variety of locally raised meat including beef, pork, chicken and even bison, elk, and shrimp. Check with your local farmers market about their opening date and which products are in season.

Farmers markets are a great opportunity to meet the farmer who grew your food. “We encourage you to try new foods and ask for preparation tips or recipes,” said Phillips. The vendors are excellent resources to learn about the food available to buy. “We encourage people to ask questions about farming practices,” said Butkiewicz, Market Manager at Moose Lake Area Farmers Market. “Some people may be confused about qualifications for certifications such as organic.” Additionally, it is a great place to learn about the different factors such as weather and disease that may impact production and how farmers overcome these challenges.

Along with the learning opportunities, a farmers market is a fun experience for the whole family. They are a great opportunity to help your kids try new vegetables and learn how to select produce for optimum ripeness. “I think kids are more likely to eat something if they got to choose it from the vendor,” said Smith. Many Minnesota markets have a Power of Produce Club program, which allows kids to buy produce at the market with special tokens, participate in activities, and engage with the vendors to learn about the produce.

We encourage you to explore a new farmers market and try something new! Thank you Lisa Phillips, Lisa Smith, Rory Butkiewicz, Nancy Cellar, and Jessica Joyce for your insights and advice when visiting one of Minnesota Grown’s 180 member markets.

Table at the market of trays of tomatoes including yellow and red cherry tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes

Photos courtesy of Maple Grove Farmers Market (top) and Annandale Farmers Market (bottom).

Local and Sustainable

With Earth Day approaching on April 22nd, it’s a perfect time to share a few approaches that our members take to sustain our environment. Their efforts and farming practices promote water quality, energy savings, carbon emission reduction, and soil improvements.

 

Minnesota Water Quality Certification

The Minnesota Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) deems producers responsible to abide by certain water quality rules or laws and allows them to obtain financial assistance to implement new practices into their farm.

In 2016, Mighty Axe Hops became MAWQCP certified for their efforts to help improve the quality of Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, and streams. For Sannerud, environmentally conscious practices comes naturally, and certification was a logical step. “It’s a badge to show our customers that we care about preserving water quality,” said Sannerud. “We have a drip system on the hops to avoid waste. We want our operation to yield a great product, and we’re doing that without taking a toll on the environment.” Currently there are currently 550 statewide producers who currently hold this certification, with over 340,000 acres certified.

 

Solar Energy

Solar panels produce electricity to power electronic equipment such as fans, pumps, or lights using the sun’s energy. Growers integrate solar energy for their greenhouses to reduce carbon emissions while providing a reliable source of power. Depending on size of the greenhouse, solar panels are placed either on the roof or mounted on the ground.

Mighty Axe team in front of rows of hops
Mighty Axe Hops, Foley
Solar panels beside greenhouse
Grandpa G's, Pillager

 

Shayne Johnson of Grampa G’s farm utilizes solar panels on his greenhouse. “Over the last four years, we have utilized two solar panels to heat the ground of our greenhouse, which had enabled us to begin production a month earlier every year,” he informed us. “Environmentally, we have probably reduced the cost of burning propane and other fuels by 75-80%.  Utilizing the sun's energy to heat the earth below our vegetables maintains constant ground temperatures, which helps regulate the greenhouse environment.”

You can learn more about solar industry installation from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.  Additionally, the Minnesota Commence Department provides information and statistics on the solar industry as a whole.

 

Composting

Composting is a microbial process that is used as organic soil amendments. Composting is made from organic materials such as foods, grass clippings, or leaves. The benefits of composting are to improve soil health, physical properties, and nutrient availability, while maintaining soil temperatures, pH, and moisture. Heidi Heiland of Heidi’s GrowHaus emphasized to use “copious amounts of compost that is chemical-free (or recognize the additives)” to your garden bed. “Your compost choice will vary based on your soil type and your budget,” she explained. “We [Heidi’s GrowHaus] offer a compost liquid tea that can be spread through a water bucket or a spray-on hose. Sold by the growler, this tea has living anaerobic organisms and does not have a shelf life. However, we hope that you can see troubled soil-type areas, transplanted plants, or shrubs respond to this cost-effective compost method and flourish.”

Interested in composting at home? The University of Minnesota offers design resources  for backyard composting.

 

Rotational Grazing

Through proper grazing management, producers can improve soil conditions and increase grazing time. We talked with Andrew from Pastures A Plenty Co & Farm about their rotational grazing program for their beef operation. “Rotational grazing allows the grass to grow much taller before it gets eaten down. It has extended our grazing program,” he noted. “In the summer, we have found that the microbes in the soil are much stronger, breaking down organic matter and increasing yield. The nutrients [in the soil] become more readily available.”

 

Conservation awards

Minnesota Grown members Homeplace Beef Organic Farm, Pettit Pastures, and Roots Return Heritage Farm were recognized for their conservation efforts. Every year the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation District (MASWCD) honors an individual or conservation organization with the “Outstanding Conservationist” award.  Selected by the MASWCD, this award recognizes the recipient for their work and accomplishments implementing conservation practices. Click the following links to read the full description of their efforts: Homeplace Beef Organic Farm, Pettit Pastures, and Roots Return Heritage Farm.

Earth Day is a great time to learn about your farmer’s sustainability practices. Thank you to all of our Minnesota Grown member farmers who initiate environmental conservation.

Cows on pasture, rainbow in the background
Pettit Pastures, Milaca

Recipe: Roasted Rabbit

Roasted whole rabbit with thyme

Did you know? In European cooking, rabbit is generally eaten more often than chicken. Domestic rabbit is a white meat, similar in appearance and taste to chicken. Rabbit meat is a great source of calcium and phosphorus. If you’re new to preparing rabbit, this simple recipe from Faber Farms & Rabbitry in Sturgeon Lake is a good place to start!

Faber Farms’ farm stand is a great way to buy local food right from the source and get to know your local farmers. The farm stand is open every Saturday from 11am to 2pm between mid/late June through mid/late October. The stand will be loaded with produce and meats grown and raised right on the farm such as chicken and duck eggs, whole rabbits, whole chickens, pork, summer squash, green beans, kale, tomatoes, herbs, and more!

Roasted Rabbit

INGREDIENTS

1 (2 1/4 lb) rabbit

salt

pepper

4 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp finely diced fresh rosemary

1 tsp coriander seed, crushed

1/4 tsp chili powder

 

DIRECTIONS

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Spread rabbit out as flat as possible and place it on a prepared pan.

Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Combine oil, garlic, rosemary, coriander, and chili powder in a small bowl.

Rub mixture over both sides of rabbit.

Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 475°F.

Uncover rabbit and roast until tender and cooked through, 30-35 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Faber Farms & Rabbitry

Springtime Planting: How Greenhouses Grow and Landscaping Advice for Your Yard

Tray of flower seedlings
Photo Courtesy of Minnesota Grown Member, Olympic Trail Greenhouse

Spring is in the air! Over the past few months, greenhouses across the state have been planning for the gardening season. We talked with Minnesota Grown member Floyd Broman from Broman’s Greenhouse LLC in Rogers about greenhouse technology, production, and advice for landscaping with garden plants.

Greenhouse Grown

During the months leading up to spring, many greenhouses produce fast-growing bedding plants to be used in colorful, temporary, and seasonal displays in the springtime, including plants for use in pots and other containers to be positioned on patios, terraces, or decking. Plants in landscaping are typically neat, dwarf habit plants that uniformly flower. Greenhouse managers work year-round to ensure their products’ readiness when customers are itching to get outside to plant.

The controlled environment of a greenhouse is ideal for any growth stage as plants can be moved outdoors for the warmer months and then returned to shelter during the winter months. “A greenhouse needs to have systematic ventilation, watering, and heating,” explained Broman. “There are thermostats to control temperatures. It will stay 65˚ F during the growing season, but can be up to 80˚ F during plant the germination stage.” Greenhouses are generally made of glass or plastic, and heated with the visible sunlight. Earlier production allows growers to prepare for the planting season and ensure healthy, transplant-ready plants each spring.

Planting for a landscape or garden

Bedding plants are split up by season. In spring bedding, biennials or hardy perennials flourish. Oftentimes, tulips are paired up with forget-me-nots, wallflowers, winter pansies, or polyanthus. Annuals that are used in summer bedding are grown in greenhouses during the spring and are acclimated to outdoor conditions before planting around the last frosts.

Summer bedding plant varieties are begonia, sweet peas, busy lizzie, geranium, antirrhinum, lobelia, petunia, rudbeckia, Californian poppy, and cosmos. Since they are acknowledged for their height, scent, and color, these are great options to spruce up your landscape.

The ideal characteristics for bedding plants are strong color themes with a simple design to render the most effective display in your landscape. Balancing different heights can be an effective method to create more informal and impromptu arrangements. As the season progresses and the temperatures increase, it is helpful to mark out the design of your bed in the soil using sand when transplanting them outdoors. “Research shade to sun requirements for your plants,” Broman shared. “Watering will depend on wind, temperature, size of container [a small pot may demand more water compared to a planter or landscape], and the weather. If the conditions are good to dry your clothes outside, your plants will need to be watered.”

Additionally, some greenhouses may offer fun classes and workshops. Celebrate spring by planting succulents or terrariums with friends or families. Potted plants or gift certificates to a garden center could also be a wonderful gift (hint: Mother’s Day is approaching). The options are endless and always best when Minnesota Grown!

Thank you Floyd Broman for speaking with us! Search our online Directory today to find a greenhouse or garden center near you. Minnesota Grown boasts over 78 producers of bedding plants. For more help with landscape design, visit our friends at the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association. Happy planting!

 

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Grown Member, Olympic Trail Greenhouse

Tina’s Travels: A Roadtrip, Local Foods, and Fun

When Minnesotans hear about Embarrass, we think of the “Ice Box of the Nation.” Besides having some of the coldest temperatures in the U.S., Embarrass and the surrounding area is home to many friendly, resilient, and ingenious people. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Embarrass to meet a few Minnesota Grown farmers and visit local sites.

Most people will likely approach Embarrass from the south and depending on your interests and time, there are several great stops along the way to stretch your legs. If you’re coming from the Cities, an architectural site in Cloquet right on the main road north is the Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station. It’s a futuristic and utopian design well-worth a moment’s visit and a few photos. Driving from Duluth or like to wander a bit? Eveleth has the World's Largest Freestanding Hockey Stick and Puck which is because The State of Hockey (Minnesota) is also home to the nearby United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

You can still eat healthy on a road trip, Kunnari’s Farm Market and Natural Harvest Food Co-op in Virginia are two places worth considering. Both offer great local food to take to your cabin or home, as well as nutritious and healthy food to grab-and-go or dine-in. Speaking of healthy and fun, consider stopping in Peterson’s Berry Farm to pick-your-own berries or call ahead for pre-picked berries to-go!

 

Janna of Fat Chicken Farm
View from inside the hoophouse
Heirloom tomatoes from the hoophouse

The name of Fat Chicken Farm alone was enough to entice this wanderer to visit. Curious, I decided to contact the small, diversified farm. Janna is a woman who does her farming using only her hands, a shovel, and an occasional infusion of nature’s fertilizer (manure). She doesn’t own a tractor or a tiller – simply grows good food for good people. Whether you are picking up a CSA basket or buying produce at the Tower, Ely, or Virginia Farmers Markets from her, all you buy from Janna has been cultivated by her personally. Farming for Janna is definitely a labor of love through intensive planting and intercropping. Contact Janna to learn more about her three types of CSA shares, including the new slim share for people who want fresh produce every week.

 

Northern Delicious CSA share
Creek view at the farm
View of the land at Northern Delicious

Another fabulous farm, Northern Delicious CSA is up the road a bit near Babbitt. After meandering the backroads and a farm road where a curious fellow helped me right my way, I had the pleasure to meet Van and Ellen on their farm. Although we had a short visit, it’s clear they enjoy what they do. They grow all of their vegetables, fruits, and herbs without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Northern Delicious’ CSA offers bountiful weekly CSA shares, as well as produce at the Ely Farmers Market and local restaurants, like Insula Restaurant and Burntside Lodge near Ely. Contact Van and Ellen to learn more about their shares and where their products may be on the menu.

Did you know one Embarrass farm offers pastured pork, beef, chicken, eggs, and… furniture? Bear Creek Acres is 10-year Minnesota Grown member raising their livestock in fresh air and sunshine. Besides buying directly from the farm, their pork is sold at Natural Harvest Food Co-op, and the nearby Trapline C-store. More recently, their ground pork has been served at the Hive Coffee and Bakeshop in Aurora. Contact Shannon and Mary Ann to learn more about buying direct.

Depending on where you are staying or live, there are many options to relax. A personal favorite of mine is the Soudan Mine Tours and Park. It is the oldest and deepest mine in Minnesota. The park, various mine buildings, small museum, and the film are nothing compared to the adventure that awaits underground! On my trip underground, I had the good fortune to meet someone whose family had worked in the mines for decades. The “Cadillac of Mines” might have been the best there was, but the conditions were not luxurious by any means.

When the timing’s right, you might be lucky enough to visit the Virginia Market Square Farmers Market or the Ely Farmers Market. Year-round outdoor fun is available at various parks and recreation areas including Giants Ridge, the Mesabi Bike Trail, and Lake Vermillion. If history, architecture, or Sisu heritage are your jam, check out the several homesteads and more built by early Finnish immigrants. Several are on the National Register of Historic Places. Keep an eye out for local festivals and fairs – the Embarrass Region Fair is in August!

For a fun daytrip go to the International Wolf Center and North American Bear Center, both in Ely. When making a day of it, enjoy local foods at Insula Restaurant or the Wilderness Wood Fire pizza truck. Both use Minnesota Grown members’ produce and more.

If You Go

There are a number of hotels, lodges, and BnBs in the area, including in the towns of Babbitt, Biwabik, Ely, Virginia, and along the southern shores of Lake Vermillion (one of Minnesota’s Top 10 lakes). For local attractions and information, check out http://www.embarrass.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/MesabiIronRange/.

Embarrass MN map
Embarrass map zoomed in
Embarrass map

CSA Memberships Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Have you heard about CSAs? CSAs, or Community Supported Agriculture, are memberships with local farms. In exchange for a subscription fee at the beginning of the season, members can enjoy fresh produce all season long delivered to a convenient pick up location. Read on to learn more about CSA farms and how to choose the right one for your family.

We talked with Minnesota Grown member Lisa Baker of Baker’s Acres in Avon. Along with sharing information about her organic 15-acre family farm, she explained that a CSA membership can have local food benefits, along with support for the farmers and the community. “CSAs can help families get their kids to enjoy fruits and vegetables because they get to know their farmer and see where their food is grown,” shared Baker. “Plus, supporting small family farms keeps good land stewards in our communities.”

CSA box with green onion carrot cucumber lettuce and other vegetables
Loon Organics, Hutchinson

The basics

A CSA farm sells subscriptions or memberships to their CSA program. Members receive a share of produce, generally once per week, for 14-20+ weeks. CSA farms deliver your freshly picked produce share to a designated drop site, where you will pick it up and bring it home. Be sure to look for a CSA with a drop site that’s convenient for you.

 

All shapes

The variety of fresh produce provided in your CSA box will inspire your inner-chef. “It’s a journey through the seasons that’s unique to each farmer and customer. Box after box, the flavors, aromas and experiences of fresh, nutritious food are both a welcome challenge and adventure,” illustrated Baker. Many CSA farms include seasonal recipes to try. It’s a great opportunity to cook a new dish!

 

All sizes

Take time to look at the options. Each CSA farm is unique – some even include meat, canned goods, or flowers. The produce will vary depending on the week’s harvest. While a standard share will satisfy a family of four, many farms offer half shares or even mini shares. If you are uncertain which size of share to purchase, we recommend asking for suggestions from the farmer, or starting with a small share and upgrade as time passes.

CSA shares are limited – sign up early to reserve your spot. Whether you are a long time CSA member, or joining for the first time, we encourage you to learn more and check out the 86 CSA farms in the Minnesota Grown Directory. Thank you to Lisa Baker for sharing your insights about CSA farms.

CSA produce box containing green and red cabbage, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, beans, cilantro, and bell peppers.
Open Arms of Minnesota CSA, Minneapolis

Meet a Farmer: Craig of Hot Disch Farm

Driving along Minnesota’s highways people pass by a lot of farms. Most of them contain traditional farm animals such as cows, horses, pigs, and chickens. But there are a handful of farms in the state that raise yaks. Hot Disch Farm near Willmar is one of those farms. Since 2012, my wife and I, along with our two young sons, have raised these majestic animals on our small 10-acre farm.

It all started back in 2011 when we were raising beef cattle and buying all our feed. The price of feed was rising and we began to research grass-fed options. We considered grass-fed beef, bison, yak, and even water buffalo. In the fall of 2011, we toured a yak farm near Cold Spring and bought some meat. It was the flavor and health benefits of yak meat that sealed the deal. We brought our first yaks home on February 6, 2012.

Yaks have been in Minnesota since the mid-1990s. They are a good fit for Minnesota winters as they are built for the cold climate. Yaks originate from Tibet and other countries that contain the Himalayan Mountains. They are smaller than beef cattle. Therefore they eat less and we can stock more of them on our small farm. Another benefit to raising yaks is the wide variety of products we can sell in addition to meat. This includes fiber, yarn, leather, skulls, hides, meat, and live yaks.

 

Although smaller than our beef cattle, yaks are still pretty big! Our adult yak cows range between 700-1100 pounds. The males are larger with steers averaging 1000-1200 pounds at four years old when they can be processed for meat. Our bull will reach full size around eight years old and 1500 pounds. Cows can be bred at age two or three depending on their size and maturity. The gestation period of a yak is eight and a half months. Their calves are small and average 35 pounds at birth. For comparison, this is about half the weight of a beef calf. Yaks can live past 20 years old and yak cows calve until they are 25 years old.

It is really fun to raise yaks; it is especially fun to see the reaction of people when you tell them you’re a yak farmer! We love raising our boys on the farm and teaching them the value of hard work and responsibility. The boys also get to learn how to interact with customers as we sell all our meat from our mobile store and at farmers markets. Hot Disch Farm has also partnered with Edgewood Acres Yaks near Renville to produce and sell our yak meat. Edgewood Acres is owned by Erik and Marit Rheinheimer and their son. We love working together. Our boys enjoy playing together and working with the young yaks.

Thank you to our guest author Craig Dischinger for sharing Hot Disch Farms’ story and teaching us about yaks. If you have questions about yaks or would like to schedule a tour, please check out Hot Disch Farm, LLC or Edgewood Acres Yaks on Facebook and the Minnesota Grown website. We all love to yak about yaks!

Craig holding his first black and white yak calf in June 2012
Craig with his first yak calf in June 2012.
Jack and Gertrude, the star yak, as a small calf in July 2016.
Jack and Gertrude, the star yak, in July 2016.
Gertrude in September 2017
Gertrude in September 2017.
Elton the yak and son jack walking in the yard
Jack and Elton the yak.