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January 2014 

Sustainable Farming Association - Central Chapter Newsletter


With a whirlwind of events starting January 25 in Browerville and continuing into March, as well as planning for a new annual signature event in Hewitt and recruiting committee members to reach our strategic goals, our Central Chapter is poised for a fantastic –and busy!– year. Here’s a quick summary of ways to get involved:
  • Annual Meeting – This Saturday in Browerville. Details below.
  • Annual Signature Event – Fermentation Fest in conjunction with Hewitt’s Barter Fest in September. 
  • Festival of Farms – A tour of farms in our region on the second weekend in July. Inquire about planning committee opportunities. 
  • Goals/Fundraising – Inquire about committee opportunities to help shape chapter priorities in our region.


An Interview with Board Member Kathy Connell
By Susan DiBlieck, SFA Central Chapter board member
Kathy Connell, Redfern Gardens 
Pictured above: Kathy Connell, harvesting peas in one of her hoop houses at Redfern Gardens near Sebeka

Susan: What brought you into farming?

Kathy: I started gardening as an eight-year-old. I became infatuated with growing things; I was amazed by the fact that a seed could turn into a corn plant. Because growing food skipped a generation, I learned on my own or from publications like Organic Gardening and Farming.  I had to stumble through and learn as I went.

Susan: How does the SFA Central Chapter contribute to the work you are doing?

Kathy: When I had a baby, her first food after nursing got me interested in agriculture again. I grew or raised most of the food for my family and later became an inspector for sustainable and organic farms. Other people in agriculture were struggling like me to learn about sustainable agriculture. I stumbled onto SFA and attended the annual meeting where I was elected to the board. Central Chapter at that time was very vigorous in teaching farmer-to-farmer.  

Susan: Share a memory from a SFA event:

Kathy: There are always new people coming to SFA events because interest in sustainable agriculture is growing. I hosted a sustainable living day at my farm, which was a milestone of the Central Chapter moving beyond dairy and grazing to focus on general sustainability. I gave tours of our earth berm house and demonstrated solar cooking and making raised beds.

Susan: What is your favorite farm chore?

Kathy: I love seeing the seeds germinating and then transplanting them out into the soil. I love seeing the plants grow and nurturing them. Observation is an important tool for a farmer.

Susan: How do you see your role within the community as a farmer?

Kathy: To teach.  My heart is still with that questioning as a first-time mother, wondering what I should feed my baby. Health is such an asset, and depends on what we eat. So I grow food for my community and try to sneak in teaching. I put on workshops for the community to learn how to grow food successfully. I will be putting on workshops here in Wadena through community education in the spring.

Susan: What advice do you give to young people who are coming into farming?

Kathy: Don’t be afraid to try. If you wait until you have a perfect plan, it will be too late. With growing things, there is always a change for example weather, disease resistance, and pests. Evaluate each situation and don’t be afraid to try something. The more experience you can get the better.

Interested in having your story shared? Contact a board member.


There are many, many upcoming events in the Central Chapter. Here’s a map!

Annual Meeting – Browerville – January 25 

Registration is open for our chapter’s annual meeting just one week away. The meeting is a time for all members and non-members in our area to connect. Come and listen to Glen Borgerding on soil health and farm profitability and Jerry Ford on how the Crow River Chapter created its signature annual event – the “Minnesota Garlic Fest” – as the Central Chapter plans for its own festival. Round table discussions will also result in action items to help fuel sustainable agriculture in our region. See the flyer below and register here.


Back to Basics – Pine River – Feb 1 

Happy Dancing Turtle will host its 8th annual Back to Basics event in Pine River on Saturday, Feb 1st. This year’s theme is "Hope for the Future" with the keynote presentation "Strong Roots: Growing the Future" to be given by Katy Smith, 2011 MN Teacher of the Year. Vendor booths, good food and over 24 breakout sessions. For more information visit Back to Basics.    


Annual Conference – St. Joseph – Feb 8

The SFA’s annual conference will be held in our chapter at the College of Saint Benedict again this year on Saturday, February 8, where we will be ready to meet and greet new chapter members. Find your chapter’s table and say hi! 


Crow Wing River Basin Forage Council’s winter meeting – Staples – February 18 


SFA’s Midwest Soil Health Summit – Alexandria – Feb 19-20


Reality Greenhouse Open House – Ashby – March 8

Explore the potential of deep winter greens and fodder production utilizing passive solar with underground heat storage. Cost: $10 SFA members, $12 non-members ($20/24 family). Watch our Facebook page and website for more details.

Organic Workshop – Verndale – March 21

8:30 a.m. registration at the Verndale Community Center 

Join us to learn about pest management, soil nutrients, succession planting, HH variety options, and water needs and application. Also – there will be booths and door prizes. Cost: $8 early-bird by March 15th ($6 for SFA members). $12 at the door ($10 SFA members). Watch our Facebook page and website for more details.

Local Foods College 2014

Local Foods College is a series of eight webinar sessions on Tuesdays from January 21 to March 11, 2014 at 6 p.m. Host sites include the Farm Market Café in Onamia. This is the third year for this series, and the 2014 series will provide options for participants to interact with one another. Learn more and register at: http://localfoods.umn.edu/college. 


Join the SFA Central Chapter to fuel sustainable agriculture efforts. As a member, you get discounted registration at events statewide, this chapter update newsletter as well as statewide communications, plus networked into the farmers and supporters in your region.

If you know of someone in your community who might like to get involved, send them our way! Memberships cost between $10 and $40, depending on whether you’re a student, individual or family. If your membership has lapsed, you can easily renew online here. Be sure to select “Central Chapter” when you register so that you get all of the communications specific to your region.


Approximately once per month, the chapter’s board of directors meets at a location that supports sustainable agriculture. Members are welcome to participate and bring ideas and questions. 


If you have feedback for educational programs, demonstrations or activities that you would like to share or learn more about, contact the Central Chapter at (218) 296-6732 or sfaofcentralminnesota@gmail.com.


The Central Chapter now has its own Facebook page, located here. Follow us to stay up to date on chapter activities. 


Thanks for reading our chapter newsletter!

- Lisa Baker 

Sustain MN

SFA is Working to Sustain Minnesota

You can be a part of it. Join or renew your membership to add to the farmer-to-farmer network and stay up to date on how you can be involved.

When you choose to support the Central Chapter of SFA, 100% of your membership dues go to support local chapter activities.


The Sustainable Farming Association of Central Minnesota is a non-profit organization that supports the development and enhancement of sustainable farming systems through innovation, demonstration, education, and farmer-to-farmer networking. The mission of this group is to promote the use of environmentally and economically sound agricultural practices and to ensure a healthy future for family farms and all of the people of central Minnesota.

Sustainable Farming Association - Central Chapter
36861 Co. Rd. 9, Avon, MN 56310
(218) 296-6732 • sfaofcentralminnesota@gmail.com

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