FEAST! Local Foods SCOOP: February 2020


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Got Local? | Eateries | Fresh & Tasty | Contest Fun! | Who's Fueling FEAST!?

FEBRUARY 2020  |  VOL. 2, NO. 8

Leap Year!

Did you know? Because there's a February 29th this year, the vernal equinox is 'early,' on March 19— just 4 weeks from today! The days are getting noticeably longer, the sun feels warmer (a bit), and we've got some local foods news to share: profiles on Sailor Mercy elderberry syrup and Main Street Farm, an update from NOSH in Winona (!), the winners from our recent survey, and more.

—FEAST! Local Foods Network newsletter team 


Got Local?

Meet Sailor Mercy!

Did you see Sailor Mercy at FEAST! 2019? Dani Dircks was there for the first time, and she really wowed us with her summery-feeling booth full of blooms. It’s no wonder she earned the 2019 award for Most Engaging Booth—her display instantly drew the eye, pulling you in to learn more about the power of nature in their elderberry syrup.

"I was so intrigued by herbalism,” she recalls of starting her venture just two and a half years ago. “I’m happiest in the garden and felt a calling to take the journey down this road of healing through herbs and flowers.” Dani’s team now includes a dozen other women, most of them mothers who blend the part time work with family time. They mash every berry by hand, and pick up their honey directly from their beekeeper with a smile and a handshake.

Having stepped into Sailor Mercy from her previous gig as a contractor, Dani knows a bit about entrepreneurship. She advises, “if you are reading this and have been playing with the idea of following a dream, I just want to encourage you to go for it, don't let being a mother stop you, don't let age stop you. I’m in my 40's and have never been more on top of my game, the life I’m living is finally my own. Your biggest obstacle will always be your own self doubt, so kick that to the curb and go live your best life.”

Pictured:  Dani Dircks at FEAST! 2019 with her Most Engaging Booth Award

Elderberry has been used as a natural remedy as far back as Hippocrates and Ancient Egypt. Sailor Mercy offers three preparations, including one that contains no honey, sweetened with maple syrup instead. Now in 49 regional retail locations in addition to Etsy and their own website, they’re on track to sell 2000 bottles in February alone and have shipped product to 40 states.

Sailor Mercy website

Wondering about the name?
It's all about the kids. Literally! Initially making elderberry syrup for one of her children who was ill, the company is actually named after two of her four kids.

Follow for updates, offers, etc:


NOSH Scratch Kitchen

NOSH is back! After about 7 months in transition from Lake City to the newly-renovated historic building in Winona, Greg Jaworski is refreshed and re-focused, ready to put his creative skills towards feeding people again. 

While the name has changed slightly—adding "Scratch Kitchen" to emphasize that everything is done in house—nothing about the fare will be different from what fans were used to finding at NOSH: delicious food for all tastes and diet needs. 

Greg says, "Winona has truly embraced us and it feels great."

He's looking forward to attending the Winona Farmers Market every Saturday, and expects to see many of the familiar vendors he knows from the Rochester Farmers Markets. 

Photography: Jennifer Sterling Design / jennifersterlingdesign.com



102 Walnut St, Winona, MN, 55987



Out of 47 respondents to our Art Experience Survey,
here are the winners:

Local foods tee:
   Kristen Martinek
   Patty Anstett
   Esther Liu
   Ribu Goyal


    Emily Doskey lives in Rochester and has selected Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery for her local foods dining gift certificate. 

Fresh & Tasty

Main Street Farm


Main Street Project's mission is to advance resilient local communities by equipping the next generation of diverse farmers with regenerative agricultural practices that are ecologically, economically, and socially just.

To do that, they have a 100-acre research and development farm located in Northfield, MN for their work with perennials, people, and chickens. The Farm operates as a subsidiary of the nonprofit Main Street Project, and is host to many programs including their land share and community gardens, agripreneur training, and research plots.

Pictured: A 2019 community orchard planting day at the Main Street Farm.

As a production farm they also produce products for retail and wholesale buyers including garlic, elderflower, chickens, and—starting in 2020, a variety of botanical herbs. The garlic is primarily sold through Just Foods Co-op in Northfield but bulk orders are available directly from Main Street Project starting in August 2020. Elderflowers can be ordered through the Midwest Elderberry Co-op, of which Main Street Project is a member, and chicken CSA shares can be purchased on their website year round.

With the addition of new crops and two full time dedicated staff, they're excited to expand the farm's potential in 2020. Updates can be found on their website, by joining their mailing list, and following them on social media.

Pictured: their well-mulched 1/4-acre garlic field just before harvest of the 9,000+ individual plants.


Main Street Project website

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The Minnesota Grape Growers Association works to heighten awareness of the MN grape & wine industry, and advance quality standards in MN grown grapes and wine.

Join them, with 12 wineries sampling and selling at Wine Fest, Saturday, Feb. 22, 5:30 to 8pm at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.  A silent auction of all things Minnesota food, fun and wine will benefit students entering the Minnesota grape and wine business. Tickets are $25 in advance at mngrapes.org or $30 at the door.  Must be 21 with ID. 

FEAST! and MGGA partner to support Minnesota Made wine thanks to our winery liasion, Randy Gutzmann! 
Farm to School Workshops are being held in communities across Minnesota this spring, thanks to the USDA Farm to School Grant program and partners including Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, the Minnesota Farmers Market Association, The Good Acre, the MN Schoolyard Garden Coalition, the Minnesota Department of Health, and Renewing the Countryside. 
In addition to school staff and administration, interested parents and PTO representatives are invited to register.


Who's Fueling FEAST!?

Renewing the Countryside (RTC)

Have you heard of RTC?
It's a nonprofit organization that is passionate about innovating to grow vibrant rural communities. That's why they (actually, we) are thrilled to be able to bring people together around local foods for the FEAST! Marketplace event, six years and counting. We are the part of the team that manages the planning and logistics for the FEAST! event because at its core, the event is to raise up our regional farms. (And we also write this newsletter!)

Other things we do? Farmland access (for beginning and non-traditional farmers), Farm to school & early careCreative financing/Slow MoneyWomen in Ag & Soil Sisters Farmers Market Aggregation Hub, Blazing Trails trainings, Artisan Grains, and more.

Follow us on social channels or sign up for the RTC newsletter to stay connected! 

Facebook  |  Twitter  Instagram

Pictured: the first of our FOUR local food gift basket winners at the 2019 FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace festival last December. Big thanks to our vendors for donating so generously to make these baskets deliciously full!

The FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace is a production of the FEAST! Local Foods Network, which is always open to new members. Founded by Renewing the Countryside (RTC) and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), both the Network and the Marketplace depend on collaboration with partner organizations and individuals.  
The Network supports local food growers and makers by boosting access to financing, peer networking, and sales opportunities. Have a subject we should cover? Hit 'reply' and let us know!
The FEAST! Local Foods Magazine Vol.1 & 2 are available online here.
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