On Sunday, I highly recommend taking the opportunity to witness, up-close and personal, the workings of the farm that supplies the Wise Acre Eatery (that's general manager Caroline Glawe, left, and chef Beth Fisher, right) with its produce, pork, beef and chicken. Co-owner Dean Englemann's beautiful and fascinating family farm, located about an hour west of the restaurant in Plato, Minn., is holding an open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Engelmann and his Tangletown Gardens co-owner Scott Endres are calling the event a "Farm Field Trip", and they're offering guided tours at the top of each hour. Visitors can also enjoy a picnic lunch for an additional $10. Those choosing the lunch option should RSVP to 612-822-4769, but those interested in just the farm tours can drop in without a reservation.
The farm is located at 11389 County Rd. 9, about a mile north of Hwy. 212 and just outside the town of Plato.
A word of advice: Wear sensible shoes, and take along some sunscreen.
Saturday July 30th is the time to get out of town and discover, first-hand, where your food comes from. Yep, it's the Eat Local Farm Tour, an open house at 11 Minnesota farms, sponsored by nine metro-area natural foods co-ops. It's free, it'll be fascinating and it's kid- (but not pet-) friendly. Some farms require reservations.
Big River Farm in Marine on St. Croix, a training ground for immigrant- and minority farmers to gain skills in creating their own organic and sustainable vegetable farming enterprises, is offering self-guided tours from 1 to 5 p.m., and a formal tour (limited to 25, pre-registration required) at 3 p.m.
Eichten's Farm, Market & Cafe in Center City is the place to observe a buffalo herd (and enjoy a buffalo burger) and sample cheeses made on the premises. Open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Want to participate in a crop mob? Riverbend Farm in Delano, a 30-acre spread which supplies fresh produce to many Twin Cities restaurants, is hosting one of the volunteer-to-work events, starting at 10 a.m. Numbers are limited to 20; find sign-up information here.
The three magic words associated with the Women's Environmental Institute in North Branch are "wood-fired pizza," available between 3 and 6 p.m., along with tours, music and miniature horse-cart rides for kids.
Ferndale Farm & Market in Cannon Falls will be offering free samples of its extraordinary turkey products (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and while that's a pretty great reason to stop by, visitors who drop in between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. can jump on a hay ride for a free tour of the Peterson family's fascinating free-range turkey farm.
Sweet-corn lovers will definitely want to check out Gardens of Eagan in Farmington, which is hosting a free corn boil at noon (while supplies last), along with self-guided tours of the farm's 100 cultivated acres (noon to 4 p.m.), a one-hour guided wagon tour (2 p.m., and limited to 25 people on a first-come, first-serve basis) and a kids' scavenger hunt (noon to 4 p.m.).
The fascinating sheep-cheese dairy that is Shepherd's Way Farms in Nerstrand is welcoming visitors from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (paired with sausage and cheese samples), with guided tours at noon and 2 p.m.
At Thousand Hills Cattle Co. in Cannon Falls, visitors will get a glimpse (from 1 to 2:30 p.m.) at farmer Jude Larson's grass-fed beef operation. Space is limited to 40 participants; call 1-507-263-4001 ext. 5 to reserve a spot.
Cedar Summit Dairy & Farm in New Prague (pictured above), one of the region's few farmstead creameries, is opening up its creamery to visitors from 9 a.m. to noon. A major Eat Local Farm Tour highlight is owner Dave Minar's guided tour of his pastures and bottling plant, at 11 a.m.
Explore East Henderson Farm in Henderson from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and see how farmer Josh Reinitz raises vegetables, chickens, steers, hogs and goats for natural foods co-ops, restaurants and CSA shareholders.
Living Land Farm in St. Peter is offering tours of its CSA-focused farm at the top of each hour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Farmers Adam Ellefson and Lupita Marchan invite visitors to bring along their own resuable cup for complimentary refreshments. Face painting for kids, too.
The best strawberries come from U-pick farms. At least they taste that way, a literal example of the whole fruits-of-your-labor thing. This spring's unseasonably cool and wet weather might suggest otherwise, but strawberry season will soon be upon us, and June is best celebrated at the U-pick farms surrounding the Twin Cities.
As promised in the 2011 Taste 50, here's a list of pick-your-own farms located within a short drive -- or, in some cases, a daytrip -- from the metro area.
One important tip: Be sure to call ahead for hours, directions, payment details and strawberry availability.
Anoka: Berry Hill Farm, 6510 185th Av. N.W., 763-753-5891
Champlin: Bauer Berry Farm, 10830 French Lake Rd., 763-421-4384
Clear Lake: Grayson’s Berryland, 6705 Country Rd. 8 SE., 320-743-3384
Delano: Apple Jack Orchards, 4875 37th St. SE., 763-972-6673
Elk River: Becks Elk River Greenhouse & Vegetable Farm, 15362 190th Av., 763-263-2631
Faribault: Straight River Farm, 3733 220th St. E., 507-334-2226
Forest Lake: The Berry Patch, 19221 Keystone Av. N., 651-433-3448
Hastings: Afton Apple Orchard, 14421 S. 90th St., 651-436-8385
Hastings: Sam Kedem Nursery Garden, 12414 191st St. E., 651-437-7516
Hastings: Wyatt’s Strawberries, 10370 180 St. E., 651- 437-8479
Hinckley: Ben's Berry Farm, 34921 Two Rivers Rd., 320-384-7232
Lakeville: Applewood Orchard, 22702 Hamburg Av., 952-985-5425
Marine on St. Croix: Natura Farms, 19060 Manning Trail N., 651-433-5850
Monticello: The Strawberry Basket, 12591 Aetna Ave NE., 763-878-2875
Northfield: Lorence’s Berry Farm, 28625 Foliage Av., 507-645-9749
Northfield: Silkey Gardens, E. 115th St., 507-645-4158
Rochester: Firefly Berries, 5542 23rd St. NE., 507-252-1309
St. Joseph: A&G Produce, 10448 345 St., 320-290-0907
Shafer: Pleasant Valley Orchard, 17325 Pleasant Valley Rd., 651-257-9159
South Haven: Fairhaven Farm, 13835 51st Av., 320-236-7685
Waconia: Klingelhutz Farm, 7940 Airport Rd., 952-442-2515
White Bear Lake: Pine Tree Apple Orchard, 450 Apple Orchard Rd., 651-429-7202
Eau Claire: Appledore Woods, W3865 Cty. Rd. HH, 715-834-5697
Glenwood City: Green Hill Farm, 3234 140th Av., 715-265-4004
Osceola: Demulling Farms, 466 240th St., 715-294-3742
Do you have a favorite strawberry U-pick farm that's not listed here? Add it in the comments section.
Lake Superior-caught smelt is the featured act in this season's first edition of Market Watch.
Bruce Wry (pictured above, in a photograph by my colleague Tom Wallace) and his son Bruce Wry Jr. were bundled up for the uncooperative weather and selling the small, silver-skinned fish last weekend at the 2011 opening day of the Minneapolis Farmers Market.
I have to admit that the sight of many tiny eyes appearing through plastic freezer bags was at first a bit disconcerting; that doesn't happen with asparagus, green onions and other late-spring farmers market staples. Father and son caught them near Ashland, Wis., and were selling them in 2- and 6-lb. bags.
Many smelt-loving Minnesotans get their annual taste of the oily, sardine-like fish at the smelt fries that take place at various fellowship halls around the state. But preparing them at home is a snap. An easy-to-prepare recipe, below, is a great way to make the most of this seasonal treat.
But first, here's a quick farmers market update:The St. Paul Farmers Market also debuted last weekend at its main downtown St. Paul location, and is operating on its standard Saturday-Sunday schedule. Opening this week: the Minneapolis Farmers Market's Nicollet Mall branch (Thursday), the St. Paul Farmers Market's Mary, Mother of the Church location in Burnsville (Thursday), the St. Paul Farmers Market's St. Thomas More location (Friday), the Midtown Farmers Market and Mill City Farmers Market (both Saturday) and the St. Paul Farmers Market's Roseville and Andover locations (Tuesday).
GREAT LAKES SMELT FRY
Note: From “The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining” by Cheryl and Bill Jamison (William Morrow, $24.95). “You may not associate frenzy with the Midwest, but you probably haven’t been there during a spring smelt run,” write the Jamisons in their James Beard award-winning cookbook. “When smelt head inland to spawn, otherwise sane people traipse out to the edge of the lake in the dark of night, when it’s likely to be bone-chillingly cold. Many of them just scoop the small silvery fish from the icy waters with a bucket and then pan-sizzle the fish whole, removing the bones with the head after it’s cooked. We like them best with the simplest of cornmeal coatings, served on paper plates, which is the way you’ll find them at the region’s all-you-can-eat American Legion fries.”
2 ½ c. stone-ground cornmeal, preferably yellow
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
At least 1 gallon peanut or other vegetable oil for deep-frying
50 smelt, about 2 oz. each (about 4 lbs. total)
Tartar sauce (see recipe)
In a shallow bowl or dish, combine cornmeal, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. In a large stockpot or other sturdy pot, warm at least 6 inches of oil to 350 degrees. Dredge fish with cornmeal mixture, a few at a time. Holding the fish by the tail, slip them head-first into the oil. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain a temperature of 350 degrees. Fry fish for about five minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Remove from oil and drain on a rack. Serve hot, with lemons and tartar sauce.
Makes about 1 ½ cups.
Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. From "The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining."
1 c. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. minced dill pickle
1 tbsp. minced pickled jalapeno
2 tsp. drained and rinsed small capers or minced large capers
2 tsp. freshly minced dill (or 1 tsp. dried dill)
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, dill pickle, jalapeno, capers, dill, lemon juice and mustard. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Tartar sauce can be prepared up to a day ahead, covered and refrigerated.
Thank goodness for the tent.
The Seward Co-op held its 10th-annual CSA Fair on Saturday. While the chilly, grey weather wasn't particularly cooperative, it helped that representatives from nearly 30 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms were bundled up and gathered inside a large, wind-protected tent, chatting up hundreds of potential farm-share customers.
Burning River Farm's Adrienne Logsdon was there, with some helpful advice for potential CSA-ers: Ask questions. What is the farm's irrigation situation? How long have they been in business? What are the delivery options? "Treat it like a job interview," she said. "After all, buying a CSA share is kind of like hiring someone to grow your food."
Burning River Farm, located in Frederic, Wis., is offering an 18-week share ("generally good for two veggie-loving adults or a family of four," explains its promotional materials) at prices that range from $525 (for a farm pick-up) to $685 (for home/office delivery); single shares ("good for one veggie-loving adult or two moderate veggie eaters") runs $450 to $610, depending upon delivery.
New this year: An egg share. Burning River farmer Mike Noreen is now raising 100 free-range chickens, and as an incentive on Saturday, Logsdon was handing out a dozen of the farm's beautiful eggs with each share purchase. Nice. Other good news: Noreen and Logsdon have added hoop houses to their operation, meaning that cherry tomatoes will be landing at the farm's Mill City Farmers Market stand right off the bat (opening date: May 7).
Those looking for evidence of the burgeoning local foods movement needed look no further than the elbow-to-elbow crowd inside the big white tent at E. Franklin and Riverside. The CSA Fair, which keeps growing with every iteration and is surely one of the forces behind the explosive growth in the number of of CSA shareholders -- and CSA farms -- in the Twin Cities, lives online, so if you couldn't make it Saturday, it's not too late. Go here for a list of the participating farms and their contact info. It's not a face-to-face encounter, but it's a helpful source and a good start.
And go here to access the Land Stewardship Project's thorough CSA Farm Directory.
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