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Backyard Produce Section: Local resources for growing your own grub

Radishes all in a row

It might be hard to envision warm breezes and budding trees at the moment, but believe it or not, the growing season will be upon us before we know it. If you're hoping to travel no further than your own backyard for juicy tomatoes or fresh basil this year, now is the time to start planning!

 

Whether you're brand new to vegetable gardening or a have a seasoned green thumb, whether you're planting a couple of small barrels in your backyard or taking on a community garden, chances are you’ll need to buy or learn something this season. Here are four gardener-approved resources that will help you every step of the way, from soil testing to selecting the right seeds and compost to finally preserving your hard-earned bounty and saving seeds for next year. 

 

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Farm-Sized Classrooms: Sandbox Cooperative provides a new model for young food entrepreneurs

Sandbox Cooperative

After such a deep winter, it was surprising to see almost a dozen people happily pruning trees in early March, wearing light sweaters and sunglasses, and most importantly, showing palpable joy in the task. 

 

For me, there was an extra level of happiness during the event, since the workshop was Sandbox Cooperative’s kickoff for the "rent your own farm classroom" program that aims to provide farmland and resources for sustainability-focused workshops. Along with co-founders Libby London, Josh Adrian, and Jeny Lai, I envisioned a place where people working toward a healthier food system would have room to play and create — think of it as a farm-sized sandbox — and weren't hindered by small classroom space. 

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Farmers Market Fix: 10 must-grab picks from Mill City's next indoor market

Mill City Farmers Market

Although we seem to be on the other side of the Polar Vortex, all those mini-mountains along the sidewalks remind us that summer vegetables are still months away. Thankfully, winter farmers markets continue to give us a taste of those salad days. With the Mill City Farmers Market about to hold their next indoor market, we asked marketing manager Kate Heilmann to give us her list of 10 not-to-be-missed items. 

 

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Eat Local, Fund Local: Four tasty Kickstarter campaigns bring more flavor to the Cities

Mmm, pizza

Kickstarter has been a boon to an array of creative businesses, from small arts organizations to dance troupes to filmmakers — recently, it expanded to include more categories, such as food businesses and farming enterprises, and the result is delicious. 

 

Started in 2009, the site is a crowdfunding platform where funders pledge to support a specific project within a certain timeframe. The fledgling enterprises set the dollar goal, and if pledges meet that amount by the deadline, they get the funds. If not, the venture goes unfunded. 

 

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Stubborn as an Ox: South Minneapolis coffee shop refuses to let long winter shutter its doors

Blue Ox Coffee Company

Whether you’re ticking off the days that we’ve been below zero (53 at last check) or griping about the endless battle with snow and ice removal, it seems you can’t escape a conversation in Minnesota without at least broaching the subject of this long winter.

 

It’s hard to argue that it has hit some harder than others, and that includes local small business owner, Melanie Logan, who runs the vibrant South Minneapolis coffeehouse Blue Ox Coffee Company at 3740 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis. Logan recently made the hard decision to turn to social media and ask her customers and supporters for a little extra help while winter still has us in its polar vortex headlock. She sat down with Simple, Good and Tasty to talk about the overwhelming response to her request and her hopes for the shop’s future. 

 

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Hunting for Dinner: Consider the Beaver

Beaver in cream sauce

First, an editorial note: it's a little impossible to write about beaver without sounding... euphemistic. So, we acknowledge the great reserve shown by Jamie Carlson, which must have been challenging. Rock on, Jamie!

 

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Five Surprising Places to Eat Local

Makers Cafe

Knowing which field a pig frolicked in before being turned into your lardon used to be the stuff of fancypants restaurants and Portlandia sketches.

 

But eating food grown or raised within a small radius of where one is currently standing is becoming more common in the Twin Cities, as the people who help feed us realize it can be good not just for health and planet, but also for the bottom line. 

 

It’s easier for consumers to choose local, not only when grocery shopping or making a dinner reservation, but in all of the places they might want to grab a bite. Here are five surprising places to eat local in Minneapolis and St. Paul. 

 

At work

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Lifting Winter Blues: 7 Natural Strategies

Winter scene

It's winter. And in the Midwest, it's been kinda rough, with 42 days of below-zero temperatures and plenty of snow. If weathering the cold and gray is making you glum, here are seven ideas for boosting your mood and your energy so the next couple months don't feel so heavy.

 

Fortify yourself with vitamin D-3, the "sunshine vitamin." Low blood levels of vitamin D are linked to depression, as well as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. This fat-soluble vitamin is the only vitamin that can be generated by the body in a super cool chain-reaction that is catalyzed when our skin is exposed to sunlight, specifically UV-B rays. 

 

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