June 26: At this "crop mob" ("It's really 'crob mob lite,' because the work is easy," said Birchwood Cafe owner Tracy Singleton), volunteers donate their labor (staking tomato plants and other projects) at Riverbend Farm (www.rbfcsa.com) in Delano, Minn., with farmers Greg and Mary Reynolds providing a farm tour, tools and gloves and the restaurants providing lunch. Car-pool from Common Roots Cafe or the Birchwood Cafe, both in Minneapolis, at 9 a.m.; return at 4 p.m.
June 27: For the season's first Tour de Farm event, Corner Table chef Scott Pampuch and Salty Tart owner Michelle Gayer will prepare a five-course, sit-down dinner with beer and wine pairings (preceded by appetizers, beer and wine and a farm tour) on the 40-acre farm in Plato, Minn., that supplies Tangletown Gardens (www. tangletowngardens.com) in Minneapolis. Reservations: $150 per person; www.tourdefarmmn.com.
July 18: Another multi-course Tour de Farm extravaganza will showcase chefs Ben Pichler and Jim McIntosh of Grand Cafe as they find inspiration from the Minar family's Cedar Summit Farm (www.cedarsummit.com), a grass-fed farmstead dairy in New Prague. Reservations: $150; www.tourdefarmmn.com.
July 25: At Turnip Rock Farm (www.turniprock.com) in New Auburn, Wis., co-owners Josh Bryceson and Rama Hoffpauir will turn over their produce and pasture-raised pork to Sen Yai Sen Lek chef Joe Hatch-Surisook for a Thai meal. A bonfire and music will follow, and on-farm camping is available. Reservations: $45 for adults, $10 for ages 5 to 12, free for ages 4 and under; www.dinneronthefarm.com.
Aug. 8: Twin Cities shoppers and diners familiar with the Thousand Hills Cattle Co. (www.thousand hillscattleco.com) brand name can visit owner Todd Churchill's farm in Cannon Falls, Minn., and enjoy a grass-fed beef dinner prepared by Strip Club chef J.D. Fratzke. Reservations: $45 for adults, $10 for ages 5 to 12, free for ages 4 and under; www.dinneronthefarm.com.
Aug. 22: Tour de Farm goes informal with a bicycle-friendly picnic featuring Mike Phillips of the Craftsman, Jim Grell and Phillip Becht of the Modern Cafe and Tracy Singleton and Marshall Paulsen of the Birchwood Cafe at Riverbend Farm in Delano, Minn. Reservations: $50 for adults, $15 for ages 6 to 12, free for ages 5 and under; www.tourdefarmmn.com.
Sept 18: Celebrate the 2010 harvest at Featherstone Farm (www. featherstonefarm.com) in Rushford, Minn., with cooking demonstrations, kids' activities, farm tours, live music and a potluck meal. No reservations; $10.
Sept. 19: Another Tour de Farm picnic, this time at the historic Oliver H. Kelley Farm (www.mnhs.org) in Elk River, prepared by Craftsman chef Mike Phillips. Reservations: $50 for adults, $15 for ages 6 to 12, free for ages 5 and under; www.tourdefarmmn.com.
Oct. 2: Learn about an incubator program for immigrant organic farmers on Big River Farm in Marine on St. Croix, and enjoy an African- and Asian-inspired meal, sponsored by Slow Food Minnesota and the Minnesota Food Association. Details will become available at www.slowfoodmn.org.
Oct. 10: Tour de Farm heads north to Duluth to celebrate Lake Superior-caught herring roe (and other northern Minnesota delicacies) with New Scenic Cafe chef Scott Graden at a Duluth site to be announced. Reservations: $150, www.tourdefarmmn.com.Farm in the city
Can't make it to rural Minnesota or Wisconsin? Let the farmer(s) come to town. The next free installment of "Farmer Meet & Eat" at the Birchwood Cafe convenes June 26 from 1 to 3 p.m. and features Pat Ebnet of Wild Acres (www.wildacresmn.com) in Pequot Lakes, Minn. Ask Ebnet questions about his poultry farm and sample menu items that chef Marshall Paulsen creates using the farm's turkey.
Red Stag Supperclub in Minneapolis hosts monthly "Meet the Farmer" dinners, featuring presentations from the farmer and a four-course meal ($38 per person) prepared by chef Brian Hauke using ingredients raised on the featured farm. Gail and Maurice Smith of DragSmith Farms in Barron, Wis., are the guests on July 8, and on Aug. 5 it's Chad Forsberg of Footjoy Farm in Sparta, Wis.
Young urban farmers from the Youth Farm & Market Project (612-872-4226, www.youthfarm.net) will show off their hard work in a series of neighborhood festivals (5 to 8 p.m.) that include a free community meal, garden tours and performances, on Aug. 11 at Zion Lutheran Church (128 W. 33rd St., Mpls.), Aug. 12 at Powderhorn Park (400 15th Av. S., Mpls.) and Aug. 16 at La Puerta Abierta Church (92 E. Morton St., St. Paul).Local-food fairs
Not all summer fairs concentrate on deep-fried foods on a stick. On July 24 and 25, make a plan to visit the Kickapoo Country Fair, a celebration of organic, locally raised foods held at the headquarters of Organic Valley, the farmer-owned co-op in La Farge, Wis. (about three hours southeast of the Twin Cities).
The seventh annual fair (10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday) will feature food, cooking demonstrations, live music, workshops, a farmers market, author readings, kids' activities, exhibits, arts and crafts, a bike tour through the beautiful Kickapoo Valley and more. For more information, go to www.organicvalley.coop/kickapoo.
On Aug. 14, discover the glories of nearly 100 varieties of Minnesota-raised garlic at the fifth annual Minnesota Garlic Fest. Featured activities (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) include cooking demonstrations -- by chefs from Restaurant Alma, Lucia's Restaurant, Modern Cafe among others -- plus wine tastings, entertainment, kite flying, kids' activities and more, held on the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Minn. (about an hour west of the Twin Cities). For more information, go to www. sfa-mn.org/garlicfest.
Rick Nelson • 612-673-4757