North Star Farm Tour
The Minnesota Grown Program is a statewide marketing partnership between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Minnesota producers of specialty crops and livestock. We are grateful for the generous 2019 sponsorship of our drawing, tour brochure, and “Minnesota Grown Socks” labels and educational posters, and a feature of the sock project at the Minnesota State Fair. Be sure to pick up a Minnesota Grown directory and fun marketing materials at any tour site, or visit www.minnesotagrown.com to join or find producers near you.
Land Stewardship Project
The Land Stewardship Project (LSP) is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1982 to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture and to develop healthy communities. LSP is dedicated to creating transformational change in our food and farming system. We are thrilled by this new partnership to connect our curious tour visitors with the important programs of LSP and afford a chance to participate in educational programs, demonstrations, and a chance to win cool LSP swag in the drawing. Check our farm listings for the five farms who will host LSP staff during tour weekend. Dreaming of owning a farm or making the most of the one you have? Enroll in our special offering of the popular, four-hour “Farm Dreams” class at beautiful Holly Ridge Farm (#18 on the map).
We celebrate Textile Center’s 25th Anniversary this year at every tour stop. Their welcome banner is a symbol of our partnership to honor textile traditions, promote excellence and innovation, and inspire widespread participation in fiber art. Pick up a brochure at our welcome table & join this lively community today! A visit to www.textilecenter.org is a rich menu of constantly changing classes, exhibitions, retail store features, new additions to their vast collection of library resources, state-of-the-art dye lab, news from 30 affiliated guilds, textile artist fellowship opportunities, and more. Numerous youth programs and camps benefit young textile enthusiasts in the metro area and elsewhere. The new Interlace program is geared to ignite the creative spirit of age 55+ beginning artists. The famously popular Garage Sales benefit people donating quality craft items as well as shoppers looking for a deal. Highlights of their first quarter-Century and exciting plans for the future will be onstage Mon. Oct. 21, 2019 at Profile Event Center in Minneapolis for the 25th Gala. North Star Farm Tour will be there with Minneapolis designers Tim and Thom Navarro (TIM+THOM) and Textile Center’s Dir. of Artistic Advancement Tracy Krumm to reveal our first-ever collaboration of farm-raised natural fiber to haute couture garments. Details and tickets on sale now at www.textilecentermn.org.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
As small producers, we owe a tremendous debt to the “Ag Department.” In 2018, North Star Farm Tour was awarded a three-year, $25,000 AGRI Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant. This grant supports innovative on-farm research and demonstrations and certainly fueled the development of North Star Farm Tour as a newly founded 501c3 organization. MDA funds projects that explore sustainable agriculture practices and systems that could make farming more profitable, resource efficient, and personally satisfying. Thirteen farms accepted block grants to experiment with three years of tours as we work to see if a 501c3 educational organization can help us all professionalize agri-tourism as a sustainable ag “product.” We are pledged to share what we learn during these three years. .
Minnesota Department of Health
This year when you visit North Star Farm Tour sites, you’ll see how seriously we take the MN Department of Health recommendations for safety on farms. We require our members to complete Safer FACEs (Farm Animal Contact Exhibits) training and comply with regulations for food licensing and safe food handling. Please pay attention to the welcome banner, the new handwashing stations, official signs, and brochures in multiple languages. Keep an eye on children and respect the rules of the people working at each farm who know their farm animals and pets best. It’s a biological fact that animals have different bacteria in their bodies than humans do, and we are following expert advice to prevent visitors from becoming sick. Thanks, MDH staff, for guiding our work on the North Star Farm Tour Farm Safety Project.
Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety & Health Center (UMASH ) at the University of Minnesota
UMASH also developed valued resources to promote health and safety on the farm, including educational videos and posters about the importance of handwashing and the Animals in Public Settings Best Practices Checklist. These resources all stem from a national guidance called “The Compendium” that details the potential health risks and includes recommendations on facility design, animal contact, and distribution of food among other suggestions. All of these resources can be found on the UMASH website, and if you’re reading this, you may benefit from tuning into this agritourism safety conversation just like we are.
Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation
The Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation is an organization separate from the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation that provides opportunities for supporters of agriculture to invest in people and programs focused on supporting active farmers and agriculturalists, better connecting agriculture to consumers and serving rural communities. MFBF is a perfect “fit” with our educational mission, and we’re grateful for the grant to support this year’s tour.
Farm Bureau Financial Services
We welcome a second year sponsorship from Darrell Ingvaldson and Farm Bureau Financial Services in Brownsdale, MN. If you need insurance for auto, home, life, business and farm or ranch, or a comprehensive financial plan to help you achieve your goals for the future, he and his team can customize coverage to fit all your specific needs. For your insurance, investment, or wealth management needs, call (507) 567-2296.
Zumbro River Fiber Arts Guild
Zumbro River Fiber Arts guild is a group of fiber enthusiasts from Southeastern Minnesota who meet the third Wednesday of each month at Oronoco Community Center, 115 2nd St. NW, Oronoco, MN, to knit, crochet, tat, bobbin lace, weave, spin, felt, dye, talk about and play with fiber. Just our kind of people! For a $20 annual membership you can borrow table looms, spinning wheels and a carder to experiment before you invest in equipment. Enjoy the extensive library with many crafting ideas. Visit the ZRFAG team with their equipment at Harvest Hill Acres, #12 on the map, on tour weekend.
Fluegel’s Farm, Garden & Pet
For over 90 years, Fluegel’s stores and elevators in Rosemount and Hastings stock or order virtually anything for farms, gardens, pets, and commercial customers. Urban customers with one bird feeder are just as welcome as big farm customers, and it’s a rare place that welcomes children just as warmly as the parents. It’s tradition to hold cats in the Cat Shack, shop for gifts, or take home a frozen pizza for dinner after loading the car with everything else you need for a weekend of projects. Fluegel’s is a return sponsor, and this year we welcome one of the family as a member. Co-owners Kim & Joe Mohrhauser live on The Farmer & The Rancher (#10 on the map) and will offer their Alpaca/Llama blend products for the first time with a Fluegel’s Pop-Up Store at Windswept Hill Farm (#8).
The heart of North Star Farm Tour’s Farm & Safety Project is the beautiful handwashing station we designed to comply with best practices for agritourism safety and health from UMASH, MDH and MDA. The most important part of effective handwashing is clean water, and we are grateful that Culligan is the regional leader in that field. All of us who live on farms with well water value the need for effective filtration, and Culligan is the industry leader in water analysis, treatment, and customer service. We reached out to the offices that serve many of our member farms at Culligan UltraPure in Northfield and Culligan Red Wing, and those stores stepped forward with major cash sponsorships that made the design and construction of these handwashing stations possible for the entire region. Culligan UltraPure of Northfield also donated 40 water bottles with handles. For the franchise closest to you contact www.culligan.com and search by zipcode.
Sustainable Food & Farming Program – Minnesota State College Southeast
The Sustainable Food and Farming program at MSC Southeast is a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree. Course work revolves around four main areas: general education, small business skills, agriculture technical science, and agriculture trade skills. In Sustainable Food and Farming, the “triple bottom line” of economic prosperity, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship are valued equally. Studies conclude with practical experience working on a farm or other agricultural/food production setting. This is education at its finest. We are lucky they said “yes” to our invitation to sponsor and set up camp at a farm site. Stay tuned!
University of Minnesota Extension Service – Dr. Travis Hoffman – Sheep Specialist for MN & ND
All shepherds in Minnesota and North Dakota are fortunate to know Dr. Travis Hoffman, the dual-appointed sheep expert for both states in the Extension Service. This South Dakota native grew up on a large Corriedale sheep ranch, and blends extensive, practical ranching experience with a keen academic mind for research, best practices, and economics. He is an in-demand expert at conferences and workshops. . This year look for valuable, free, research-based Extension information on the tour, but don’t expect to see Travis. He is getting married in Fargo, and we wish the newlyweds every happiness!
Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota
It’s often said that fiber binds all of humanity. Every culture used what was available in a common need for food, clothing, shelter, and practical objects, like baskets and blankets, dating back to the beginning of civilization. People of the Himalayan Mountain region of Tibet discovered the many benefits of living with yak centuries ago. The gentle, cooperative animals lived with families who relied on them for luxurious fiber, milk, meat, and transportation. Special animals are consecrated in the Buddhist tradition as a gift of longevity and health to the Dalai Lama. Visit Clear Spring Farm to meet Jericho, who was blessed 18 years ago at the TAFM annual festival in Minneapolis and was honored there in 2019 as the Guinness World Records “Longest Horns on a Yak” winner at 136.4 inches. Members of TAFM will be on hand to celebrate all things yak and Tibetan culture.
Menard’s of Red Wing
We believe so strongly in farm safety and health that we linked arms with state and regional agencies and designed the best handwashing station we’ve seen anywhere for our visitors. The sturdy, multi-purpose base required a big shopping list, and all of it was at Menard’s. We are deeply grateful to the General Manager, Steve Klebe, 1st Asst. Tony Strahota and in-store staff for assistance thinking through our design and pricing out the components (more than you might imagine). They helped us “Save Big Money” to launch our official Farm Safety & Health Project in style at all 20 member farms.
Assurance Feeds & Farmer’s Mill & Elevator in Castle Rock
The heart of Castle Rock, MN is the tall elevator that can be seen for miles. Two generations of the Auge family are working just inside the door at Farmer’s Mill & Elevator, where the office is the hub of a large operation serving the surrounding area with feed, bedding, fertilizer, crop and pasture management, and a full range of expert agronomy services. Also home to Assurance Feeds. They are generous supporters of youth agricultural programs and we are grateful for this sponsorship.
Rach-Al-Paca Fiber Processing
Rachel Boucher is a modern pioneer in the endangered field of fiber processing. She recognized a need for people with natural fiber of all kinds to need expertise with washing, carding, roving, spinning, and custom processing. She located equipment that is becoming increasingly hard to find and decoded how to make all the moving parts run. It’s mesmerizing to watch the mill in operation and see the transformation from raw fiber to finished product. It’s a value-add process that is priceless to area producers. Rach-Al-Paca is also known for its own sheep and alpaca fiber, meat goats and competition-worthy guinea pigs. She raised money for North Star Farm Tour as her Facebook Birthday charity, and also discounted her processing fees to help us accomplish the 2019 Sock Project as the co-chair.
Something Special From Wisconsin
Across the river we also cheer on the value-add statewide marketing partnership between Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and Wisconsin producers of specialty crops and livestock. Look for their logo on our Wisconsin members’ products and visit the website at www.somethingspecialwi.com.