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Going to the Country: The Eat Local Farm Tour

East Henderson Farm is located on the bluffs of the Minnesota River Valley near the old village site of East Henderson.East Henderson Farm is located on the bluffs of the Minnesota River Valley near the old village site of East Henderson.
By Kari Binning

Last year, on a hot summer day, I packed up a cooler with peanut butter-and-
jelly sandwiches, string cheese, some pretzels, and water bottles. I applied ample amounts of sunscreen to myself and my girls. We donned sun hats and sunglasses and climbed into the car. A few minutes later, we met up with some friends and hit the road for our first-ever Eat Local Farm Tour.

I grew up in the country, where my drive into town wove through corn and soy bean fields and dairy cows reaching through wire fencing to nibble long grass alongside the road. Since these were my surroundings in my formative years, I want my city kids to feel a connection to rural life. Unfortunately, we don’t leave the city as often as I think we should. This became apparent on a drive back to my hometown when my youngest daughter pointed out the car window, “Look, Mommy! A camel!” It was a horse. Clearly, we needed to get out more.

The Eat Local Farm Tour, sponsored by Twin Cities area food co-ops last year, turned out to be the perfect opportunity for a trip to the country for me and my family. It provided an up-close look at the farms that we usually speed past on the freeway.

Tour goers walk with cows at Cedar Summit Farm.Tour goers walk with cows at Cedar Summit Farm.

Our first stop was Cedar Summit Farm in New Prague, Minn. When we pulled up, there was a large crowd of people crossing the country road from Cedar Summit’s farm store into the grassy field where a herd of brown cows was grazing. We joined in and followed the farmer, Dave Minar, to meet the cows. My kids squealed as they dodged large cow pies, and the longer grasses were up to my little one’s thighs, but we made our way and gathered around Mr. Minar as he explained why they choose to raise their cows in pasture. After answering many questions from the crowd, Mr. Minar led us back to where we started. While many tour goers got back in their cars to continue on, we pulled out our packed lunches and ate at the Minar’s picnic table under a shade tree.

Next, we made our way to East Henderson Farm, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) vegetable farm that also provides St. Peter Food Co-op with produce. Farmer Josh Reinitz was giving tours at the top of each hour of their farm, which included their certified-organic vegetable fields and their historically preserved farm out-buildings. In the barn, they were selling fresh-picked produce and offering cool water and cookies. But my kids couldn’t care less—they were hanging out with the goats. After I managed to pull them away, we headed to St. Peter Food Co-op for an early dinner. With bellies full and skin sun-kissed we drove back home to the city.

Kristine and Ryan Jepsen specialize in producing high quality 100 percent grassfed beef raised through sustainable and humane farming practices.Kristine and Ryan Jepsen specialize in producing high quality 100 percent grassfed beef raised through sustainable and humane farming practices.

When my co-op’s newsletter arrived with the announcement of this year’s Eat Local Farm Tour, my daughter pointed to the article, saying, “Hey, we went on this last year. It was kind of stinky. Can we go again this year?” Music to this country girl’s ears.

This year, the Eat Local Farm Tour will take place on Saturday, July 21 and is sponsored by 10 Twin Cities area food co-ops—Eastside Food Co-op, Just Food, Lakewinds Natural Foods, Linden Hills Co-op, Mississippi Market, River Market, St. Peter Food Co-op, Seward Co-op Grocery & Deli, Valley Natural Foods, and the Wedge Co-op.

The Eat Local Farm Tour will feature 10 local farms—Kohnert Organic Farms, Living Land Farm, East Henderson Farm, Cedar Summit Farm, Shepherd’s Way Farms, L & R Produce and Poultry, Simple Harvest Farm Organics, Thousand Hills Cattle Company, Women’s Environmental Institute, and Big River Farm.

Pick up a tour guidebook at any of the sponsoring food co-ops and visit the Eat Local Farm Tour Facebook page (www.facebook.com/EatLocalFarmTour.coop) for information about out how to meet your farmer this summer.

Kari Binning is marketing and media manager for Mississippi Market.

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