Cannon River Winery
Nestled in the Cannon River’s Sogn Valley, Cannon River Winery is a treasure. They’ve brought their wines to the FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace for sampling and sales, so you might be familiar with them. But have you visited?
Their vineyard boasts 9,000 vines on 40 acres of rolling hills near Cannon Falls. Among the vines, their rustic 150-year-old timber frame barn is a scenic spot to gather together—when that’s possible.
The winery's event center can accommodate groups up to 250 in a vintage warehouse setting. Besides weddings and other private events, the vineyard hosts harvest experiences for those who want to volunteer (+ enjoy wine and food!), coming on weekends in September. This Sunday, Aug. 2, they're hosting a CReW Pick Up Picnic with live music.
Stay tuned to their website and social media (links below) for news on how they’ll host folks to pick grapes and have lunch at the vineyard amidst social distancing precautions.
These days, amidst COVID precautions, businesses focused on community are working to find ways to allow for safe social experiences.
The winery location in downtown Cannon Falls is just minutes from the vineyard. They opened for outdoor seating on June 1st, and then expanded seating to their parking lot to make it more possible for folks to congregate safely.
Considered essential during the forced closures, they offered bottle sales and had some fun with their “Feisty” line of wines.
A new restaurant in St Joseph, MN opened in May—a little surprising on many fronts, whether you consider the raging pandemic with its capacity limitations, or that they specialize in New Orleans-style cuisine. Mateo Mackbee opened Krewe with his girlfriend and partner, Erin Lucas, a baker who also opened a business in St Joseph—bakery Flour & Flower. We learned of them through this July 7th New York Times article and are excited to get to know them better as they grow their farm into a place to offer a bit of nature to students of color, through their nonprofit organization, Model Citizen.
24 College Ave N, St Joseph, MN 56374
NYT: Two Chefs Moved to Rural Minnesota to Expand on Their Mission of Racial Justice
The Growler: New London’s Model Citizen is poised to shape the future of Minnesota food
Andrea Ellen Reed for The New York Times
Know Your Farmer
Agua Gorda Cooperative
Each farm is unique, in what they grow, in the number of employees (or not), and also, in how they market—sell—what they produce. Weather and other factors typically affect sales. But 2020 is no typical year.
U of MN grad student Emily Reno embarked on a regional market analysis in February for Agua Gorda, a farming cooperative in Long Prairie, MN, at a time when wholesale markets were hit hard by the pandemic.
One of Emily’s conclusions from working with brothers Javier and Jose Garcia—two of the farm’s four workers—is that a language barrier can make traditional assistance resources unattainable. Farm owner Javier is part of the Shared Ground Co-op of farmers, which includes other Spanish speakers, but more resources in Spanish are needed to close the gap.
Agua Gorda, like all farms, seeks to find strong relationships with buyers. In their case, they have chosen wholesale markets for their tomatillos, jalapeños, cilantro, zucchini and other produce. That means instead of selling to individual customers at a farmers’ market, they seek to sell bulk amounts by the bin or truckload to buyers like schools, restaurants, or others that serve prepared food. They’ve seen disruption in those sales due to COVID, but it has also created opportunities for word of mouth cooperation at the regional level.
Farms trying to sell high quality, organic produce to large buyers must demonstrate the ripple effect of purchasing from a smaller producer—the economic benefits of keeping money in the community. Things like creating a website to share information about farming practices, job creation and giving back to the community all take time—difficult for a farmer to do on top of the actual work of farming.
Learn more from the links below, and keep an eye out for restaurants and cafeterias that buy from local farms!
Read the full article and get Emily's report
Photo credit: Agua Gorda Cooperative
Who's Fueling FEAST!?
Grow North MN is housed within the Holmes' Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, and serves as a “mobilizing connector, creative spark, resource aggregator, and ecosystem navigator” for food businesses in the Twin Cities and throughout Minnesota. This spring, just as the pandemic was hitting, a new Executive Director was taking the reins.
Allison Hohn is Minnesota born and raised, with a food science background that led to extensive product development work with Land O’ Lakes. She then received a degree in supply chain management and transitioned to Target. Her experiences throughout both organizations led to coaching and mentoring food businesses at their internal accelerators, and also for a consulting firm based in New York. Realizing how much she enjoyed helping food businesses scale up, she leapt at the opportunity to do that through Grow North.
Due to COVID, the third annual Food, Ag, Ideas Week will be held as a virtual event during the first two weeks of December this year, and Allison is actively engaging with partners to bring agricultural issues and innovation into the spotlight. For example, she says, “COVID has illustrated a lack of resiliency in the food supply chain and there is a lot of potential to unlock in the mid-size Ag community.”
Another new direction for this year’s FAIW is a planned virtual tradeshow dedicated to highlighting women and BIPOC-owned businesses. Learn more about FAIW as it is released and discover other educational offerings from their social links below, or from their website such as this webinar, available on demand: An Investor Viewpoint in 2020 with COVID-19: Pete Speranza (of the 301 Inc. venture arm of General Mills).
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Congratulations to Amber Herbrand, winner of our last contest!
Amber said her favorite article from Volume 2 of theFEAST! Local Foods Magazine was the chef profiles:
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