Students design contest for a better bag

Maybe one way to get shoppers to bring their own bags to farmers markets is to make those bags really cool. Toward that end, high school students in Hennepin and Anoka counties are invited to show their artistic talents and come up with a design that will be showcased on thousands of reusable canvas bags given to shoppers at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. The market, in partnership with Country Financial, launched the "Grow Your Own Way" contest to reduce waste and promote recycling. The winning student will receive a $1,000 scholarship, and two runners-up will get $500 scholarships. For details and entry forms, visit www.CountryFarmers Deadline is 4 p.m. April 18.

Now we can all be Clampetts

For something completely different, the annual Moonshine Festival in Ohio's Hocking Hills recreation area (near Columbus) wants everyone to know that for the first time in the fest's 40 years, samples will be available. State law always has required organizers to dump all the moonshine produced for show on the town's antique stills. But the coincidental — heh — opening of the Straitsville Special Distillery on Memorial Day weekend enables the distribution of corn whiskey from a working still, a moonshine tradition so revered that mobster Al Capone once ran New Straitsville likker out of the area. To learn more, visit

Help others 'get milk'

Milk is one of the items most requested by clients at food banks around the country. Yet it's rarely donated. That's why Second Harvest Homeland has launched the Great American Milk Drive, a first-ever national program to help deliver milk to hungry families that need it most. You can participate online by visiting, or text message (text "Milk" to 27722), where a donation of $5 will buy much-needed milk. By entering your ZIP code, you can ensure that the milk is delivered from a farm to a local Feeding America food bank in your community.

Entrepreneurs: Ready, set, enter!

Compelling food ideas get a hearing in the 2014 Minnesota Cup competition, which from now until May 9 is seeking new business ideas from around the state. This year they've added a Food/Agriculture/Beverage division to six other categories. Entrants compete for $300,000 in prize money. The competition is free and aims to provide "an opportunity for entrepreneurs, inventors or small-business owners working on innovative new business concepts, or for those who have already started a business but are generating less than $1 million in yearly revenue, to help move to the next phase," according to a news release. Finalists from the past five years have gone on to raise nearly $75 million in capital to support the development of their business ideas.

This is no simple Kickstarter: Each entry must contain a description of the product or service, explanation of the market size or opportunity, a sales and marketing overview, brief operating plan and high-level financial projections and assumptions. After three rounds of judging, a finalist and runner-up will be announced for each division, with the finalist receiving a cash prize of $30,000 and the runner-up receiving $5,000, with the exception of the Student and Social divisions, which will be awarded $20,000. In addition, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation is providing $25,000 in seed funding to the top entry from that region of the state.

For more information on each category, and details on how to enter, visit