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.