Farms & Gardens

Stored Solar Greenhouse Supplies Local Salad Greens from Fall to Early Spring

It started with a roadtrip from Southeastern Minnesota, headed west, nearly to the South Dakota border. My sister, Liz Belina, a curious and inventive gardener, had already created a very productive series of raised garden beds outside her back door in rural Peterson, Minnesota. But Liz is a gardener who looks for ways to push the limits of her Zone 4 climate. So when she heard about a tour of an energy-efficient winter greenhouse – one that could be built with materials readily available from a hardware store, heated almost exclusively with stored passive solar energy, and allow her to grow salad greens all winter long – she had to know more.


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Raising Chickens: A Respectful Butchering

Our butchering date had been weighing on me for weeks. I was counting the days, looking forward to the end of hauling 5- and 7-gallon water jugs morning and night from our yard hydrant to the chicken yard and of wrestling 50-lb. bags of broiler feed every few days. But I was also dreading the slaughter – the toll I would be exacting on sixty living creatures. This was not the sort of burden I ever considered before our first harvest of meat chickens in July of 2011.

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Straw Bale Gardening, Part 3: The Final Report

This is the final installment in our Straw Bale Gardening series, which follows a novice gardener’s attempt at her first straw bale garden.

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Farm to Fork, A CSA Series: Too Busy to Cook

This is part 8 of a summer long series about our CSA boxes and what we do with them. Recipes for Roasted Delicata Squash, Quick Stovetop Greens, Everything Radish Salad, and Sweet Roll Dough with Mashed Potatoes follow.


I’m going to be honest with you. I had a busy week and didn’t cook at home as much as I would have liked to.


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Farm To Fork, A CSA Series: Warming Recipes For Fall

This is part 7 of a summer long series about our CSA boxes and what we do with them. Recipes for Citrus Beet Salad, Stuffed Peppers, German Sausage Chowder, and Apple, Cheddar, and Walnut Quick Bread follow. 


It’s finally starting to feel like fall in Fargo.


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Event Preview: Food + Justice = Democracy

If you are on any type of local food listserv in Minnesota, you’ve received an invitation, or two, or ten to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food + Justice = Democracy national meeting, convening September 24 -26 in downtown Minneapolis.

IATP’s goals for the convergence are lofty; the conference is billed as a national meeting to change the food justice narrative, where “participants will co-create a national food justice platform to push our government and our political leaders to prioritize a fair, just and healthy food system.”

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Farm to Fork, A CSA Series: Vegetable Fatigue

This is part 6 of a summer long series about our CSA boxes and what we do with them. Recipes for Bulgogi pa jun, Roasted vegetable pasta, and a Chocolate zuchinni bundt cake follow.


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Garden in a Glass: Bloody Mary Recipe and More.

It’s during the hottest days of the summer when heating up the kitchen by firing up the stove seems like the last thing on my list. Firing up the bbq is a decent alternative, dinner salads made out of garden veggies, and cold sandwiches get us through the July/August season without having to turn the air conditioning on in our home. When I’m planning a dinner party during these months all too often I fall back to sucking down the clichéd ice-cold beer around the grill or the table. Maybe chilled white or rose wines? Sure, they’re great hot weather standbys, but I’m completely ignoring the garden when making those kind of drinks. Why not use the fresh herbs, fruits, and even vegetables when making cocktails? Last winter I received a cocktail recipe book that has prodded me along on this idea, and while initially following the recipes verbatim I’ve now moved on to making my own cocktail creations from what’s fresh in the yard.  

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Local Food All Year Starts Now!

The weekend farmers markets are upon us again and I am already thinking about what I am going to be buying. I imagine bartering for the huge, unpriced box of pickling cucumbers sitting under someone's market table. Will 30 heads of garlic really be enough. How much kale is too much? If I buy 10 boxes of beans, will I get a deal or just a funny look.


No, I'm not planning a party, but almost as soon as the summer begins, I start to squirrel food away. This year, it started with strawberries. Both from my own plants and from the local market, I managed to slice and freeze about 3 gallons of strawberries. I totally missed out on peas, but I intend not to let bean season pass without doing some late night blanching, freezing and pickling. 


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Farm to Fork, a CSA Series: If Not for the Grace of Good Vinaigrette.

This is part 4 of a summer long series about our CSA boxes and what we do with them. Recipes for a white wine vinaigrette and crab and lentil salad follow.


This was the week where failing in the kitchen was the prevailing theme. Normally, nine out of ten times, I hit home runs. Of course, some meals are more compelling than others, but usually the worst are still edible. This week, I was in a slump. I wanted nothing to do with my last couple of dishes.  


Leaden vegetable fritters and gag-inducing spaghetti carbonara that I tried to lovingly scent with lemon zest and Serrano chili were on the menu. The foul food ate up most of my week’s CSA vegetables. Beans, snap peas, spring onions, golden cauliflower, and kale: they all perished and the remaining scraps went straight into the vegetable stock bag in my freezer.  

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