All posts by Laurie Kallinen

We Can Change the World!

by Kristine Jonas

What we do with local food and sustainable agriculture in our regions across this state is so important for the health and wellbeing of our communities. We are building a foundation that was once there, but dwindled.

If we want a stable healthy region, we need to grow our own food and support our own farmers and aggregators.

It’s challenging work, often people give up. There is so much independence up here that it can tend to work against us, when we don’t collaborate and work together for the good of all our farmers. This goes beyond political ideologies, belief systems, this is about all our people, our health, our food, our farms, gardens, environment.

We need to move past that, the black and white thinking and actually deeply care about each other and remember part of that is taking care of ourselves as well.

If you don’t like how things are then be a part of the change by supporting our neighbors. Instead of complaining about the systems/world, perhaps you can do something that will make a positive impact in our/your communities.

I challenge you to do one small good thing. Buy from a farmer, support your local grocery store, and local (not chain) restaurants. Be their friend, love them.

We can buy from folks who support and purchase from farmers and local aggregators like our food hubs. We gather food from producers in our regions and bring it together to support our farmers, so they can buy feed for their animals or seeds to plant.It starts small, with setting a foundation. Then we keep working and pressing through each challenge as it arises, and boy do they.

We hubs keep working and cooperating with eachother. Together we problem solve and plan better ways to actually help, throughout the state. Then we gather local food, and sell it to local schools, or help write grants, so local folks get healthy local food (often for free), yet, farmers get paid their prices.

So, instead of shipping food from far off states or other countries, the food is grown and sold right here. Right here! It’s pretty cool.  We learn things about seasonal storage and eating within the season. There is more nutrition in fresher food that isn’t shipped so far. Think of the footprint that leaves.

You want to be an activist for your community and world? Buy from your neighbor, love them. We can do things to change this world that go way beyond politics. It’s so simple, yet it’s easier to divide and make it complex.  Love your neighbor as yourself, and love yourself by eating better. Buy the eggs, the meat from the farm down the road, the veggies at the farmers market, or in the local co-op. Buy the bread, the cup, the art, the cutting board, table, etc. too, while you’re at it. You are part of that change.  You.

When you buy locally, we are changing the world
one bite at a time.

When you buy locally, we are changing the world one bite at a time. If each of us does this in all our regions across the state, just imagine the power, and healing ‘we’ have created. That my dear friends is a revolution that I’m a part of and so are you each day.

I do it because I love you and care about you and your children, your families, your parents, and grandparents, aunties, and uncles. Your tribes, your traditions are important to me. So, I do this work for you and me, for all of us, in Tower-Soudan, Embarrass, Virginia, Gilbert, Eveleth, Cook, Aurora, Cherry, etc, St.Louis, Cook, Lake Counties, the Northwoods, and on and on, our state our nation.If you want to make a difference, please think of our growers, farmers, of us.  Our farms and farmers are so important, food aggregation is challenging, farming even more so.

So I challenge you to be the change, put the junk online aside. Let’s focus on the positive impact we can be together instead.

Love you,

Kristine Jonas Virginia Farmers Market Hub Online and Aggregation Manager serving Northeastern Minnesota, primarily the Iron Range region. It is one of ten hubs throughout the state that works to support local agriculture, by working with small farms, and growers in wholesale, and retail online sales. We are advocates working to connect farmers with wholesale buyers and we help connect them to resources such as online and in person farm food safety education and training.

Here is the link to the Minnesota Farmers Market Hubs throughout our state:

Harvest Booya Oct. 7, 2023!

Join us October 7th for the Harvest Booya! Booya is a traditional soup simmered all night with the best local ingredients. It highlights the culmination of the harvest and the coming together before the long winter sets in. The meal will include Booya soup and Finnskogen sourdough bread. Also available will be Wild Rice House wild rice and fry-bread. There will be live music and vendors will offer locally made goods.

Producer Profile: AgroEcology Center

By Dan Cahill-Mathews

Farmer: Mark Dahlen
Farm Size: 10 acres, although not all in production
Key Farming Practices: Regenerative, no till, organic
Years Farming: 1st season growing here in Finland

On a calm, cool, early November afternoon I visited the AgroEcology Center deep winter greenhouse and regenerative farm on Silver Hill Drive in Finland. Mark Dahlen, the affable and soft spoken farm manager, greeted me in the deep winter greenhouse – a space lush with vibrant greens from vertical plots of salad greens and rainbow stalks of swiss chard in floor plots. 

Mark Dahlen: AgroEcology Center

Before I could pose a question, Mark eagerly shared details about the cyclical growing system of the vertical plots and the experimental mustard greens and other “cut and come again” varieties. “Leaf lettuce, mustard, arugula, spinach, will continue through the winter,” Mark tells me. “Come spring and summer, we can do ginger and turmeric. I’d like to see about getting some dwarf citrus happening up here.” His boundless curiosity and agricultural expertise became apparent as he leads me around the property, demonstrating a variety of home gardening techniques including keyhole gardens, terraced plots, and hügelkultur in a serene and beautiful demonstration garden. 

On the other side of the property, he guided me through rows of berm and swale plots – an innovative gardening method that holds water and directs irrigation to make the most of limited rain with mounds and trenches. Planted in the berms were flowering fruit bushes including honey berry, elderberry, and seaberry. The flowering plants provided ample food for pollinators including the bees on the property, which were prolific despite the dry conditions this summer. 

For Mark, every corner of the farm is an opportunity to explore regenerative systems which, as he states, are “designed in a way that we not only harvest a yield, but do so in ways that actually increase soil life and organic matter.”  At the core of this regenerative mission is an “aim to mimic nature with closed loop systems, as there is no waste in the forest.” Mark demonstrates this on the farm with a variety of growing techniques and experimentation with waste-to-resource systems. The AgroEcology center turns manure from locally raised alpacas and chickens into compost and repurposes the spent grapes called “must” from the North Shore Winery in Lutsen into usable growing material. 

AgroEcology Center’s Market Garden

You may have seen Mark at the Finland Farmer’s Market this summer with tables full of stunning cosmic purple carrots, mesmerizing patterned chioggia beets, and Russian varieties of tomatoes that endure the northern rowing climate. In addition to the market farm providing abundance at the Farmers Market, the AgroEcology Center’s mission is to be a resource for the community. “We hope to start offering classes/workshops and tours next year,” Mark shares. “If people have ideas they want to experiment with, but don’t have the time or space, perhaps I can do that here, and we can find out what works for the benefit of all.” 

Mark demonstrates this mission to aid local producers and growers through three different levels of greenhouse growing systems on the farm. The first an entry level farm tunnel built with about $70 worth of material including cattle panel that extends the growing season. The second a larger high-tunnel system for producers looking to invest a little more to grow a large amount of food. And the third, a deep winter greenhouse for farmers ready to  grow year-round. Mark hopes local farmers, producers, and home gardeners will find inspiration from these examples on the farm that assist their plots at home. 

As the sun began to set, painting the sky with vivid orange and magenta between the clouds,  we climbed the terraced medicinal herb garden surrounding the greenhouse. It dawned on me that there is so much positive and exciting agricultural work at the AgroEcology Center that I could never do it justice in one article or interview. Mark and I agreed to stay in contact about the happenings on the farm and share the mission of the AgroEcology farm being a valuable resource for all farmers, producers, and growers in Finland and on the North Shore. 

“The community is an incredible place. The people I have met are genuine and kind, interested in ecological connection and the things I care about.” Mark tells me. “They make intentional efforts to make Finland what it is, and I really appreciate that. In addition to growing innumerable varieties of plants, Mark hopes to continue growing relationships within the community with an open invitation to explore the farm at the AgroEcology Center. Just as I did, you can meet him in the deep winter greenhouse. “I’m usually there mid-late morning and people are welcome to stop by and say hello. It’s a really nice spot on a cold sunny day.”

Mark’s salad mix and greens such as swiss chard can be found at the Finland Co-op in addition to the Finland Farmer’s Market throughout the summer and select winter dates. The AgroEcology Center hosts summer farm apprentices through the Savanna Institute for prospective farmers. For farm tours, inquiries about regenerative gardening techniques, and suggestions for classes/workshops next year, Mark can be contacted via email at 

What is your background in farming? 

Both sides of my family come from farming families, but we did not grow up on a farm. I come to the Agroecology Center as a next step in a 2nd career. I spent over two decades working in the music business as an audio engineer mostly doing live concerts across the country and a few other continents. 

About 15 years ago I learned of Permaculture and I began to see the future was not going to continue as it had been. I transformed a couple of urban/suburban lots into food forests & annual food systems and I was hooked on growing things. 

The opportunity came up to work on a research farm, and I also spent some time on the oldest organic/biodynamic vegetable farm in Tennessee. I’ve been a lead designer on some large acreage projects, with tree plantings, wetland restorations and pollinator habitat creations. Most recently we had a small urban farm and plant nursery in Nashville where [my partner] Ellen and I lived until 2020.

What brought you to Finland, MN?

Synchronicity. Long story short, we came up to the north shore for Ellen’s birthday in 2020, and through a number of events I ended up connecting with Sarah at Wolf Ridge and then spent some time volunteering there. In that time frame we visited the Agroecology Center. This position became available this spring, so I came to see if it all made sense and if it was the right fit for me, and here I am.

What is your role with the AgroEcology center and what does the AgroEcology center do?

One of the demonstration gardens at the AgroEcology Center

My title is Farm manager and I oversee all of the happenings on site. This is a project of the Organic Consumers Association and the scope of the vision is long term. Much of the work up to this point has been transforming the site into a diverse regenerative space with multiple symbiotic enterprises, and we are now moving into a phase where more production will occur. We are a research, education & demonstration site focused on finding varieties that do well in this climate. Fruit & nut trees, medicinal herbs, mushrooms, bees, vegetable production and we have a home garden site to give people ideas and concepts they can explore in their backyards. We hope to start offering classes/workshops and tours next year. I’d like to make this place a resource for the community. If people have ideas they want to experiment with, but don’t have the time or space, perhaps I can do that here, and we can find out what works for the benefit of all.

What farming practices are you most passionate about? 

No till and soil health. It really is all about feeding the soil. In the last few years I’ve taken some courses with Dr. Elaine Ingham on soil assessment through microscopy and that has been pretty incredible to see the life in the soil close up, and then to attempt to make recipe composts to include the full soil food web.

How many people are involved with the work at the AgroEcology center?

In the growing season, we have a couple of apprentices for 4-5 months, and the rest of the year it is just me.

What does regenerative agriculture mean to you?

The current food system in our culture is extractive. Taking more out of the soil and leaving it more degraded with each season’s use. Regenerative systems are designed in a way that we not only harvest a yield, but do so in ways that actually increase soil life & organic matter. We aim to mimic nature with closed loop systems, as there is no waste in the forest.

What are the farm projects you’re currently working on?

Being the end of the season, things are slowing down a bit. Although, I was just harvesting some romaine a couple of days ago growing under some row cover while it was snowing… 
But really it is a time to review the season, tuck things in for the winter, and of course we have the Deep Winter Greenhouse at full production for the winter season as we look to start planning for next year.

What crops/produce are you growing in the greenhouse and over winter?

The passive solar greenhouse is pretty amazing, right now we have mostly greens growing in there. Leaf lettuce, mustards, arugula, spinach, which will continue throughout the winter. Come spring and summer, we can do ginger and turmeric, I may experiment with early tomatoes and cucumbers. I’d like to see about getting some dwarf citrus happening up here. I’m usually in there mid-late morning and people are welcome to stop by and say hello. It’s a really nice spot on a cold sunny day.

Greens grow year-round in the Deep Winter Greenhouse, and are available for purchase at the Finland Co-op during the winter months

Where can we find your produce for sale?

In the summer, I really enjoy connecting with people at the Finland Farmers Market, and we’ll have salad mix and greens all winter at the Co-op.

Do you have any tips for greenhouse farming or winter farming?

If you plan things you can really take advantage of the season extension in the fall and spring. It’s likely too late for this year to start from seed, but if looking to spring even if you have an unheated greenhouse, many crops will tolerate cooler temps and things like row cover can help you get a jump on the season. I like to plan to be early in spring and late in the fall and if you lose a few things it’s not that bad, but if you get the timing right it’s a huge pay off. I seeded romaine and head lettuce the first week of august, and radishes in mid September and that worked out well this year. It may not every year, but it’s fun to push the boundaries.

What has been a highlight of your time living in the Finland community?

This community is an incredible place. The people I have met are genuine and kind, interested in ecological connection and the things I care about. They make intentional efforts to make Finland what it is, and I really appreciate that. I could tell last year just being here for a short while, and meeting a few people that this place has an energy, and attracts like minded people. It’s obviously beautiful scenery, but the people make Finland more than a pretty place. I look forward to growing those relationships more and continuing to meet others.

Wild Rice House Manoomin Waakaa’igan Villirisi Talo Nears End of First Season

by Abby Roweder ~ Wild Rice Project Coordinator

Blake Hawbaker (Processor) and Abby Rohweder (Wild Rice Project Coordinator)
work at the gravity table separating the different quality wild rice kernels.

It has been an interesting season for wild rice. The drought impacted rice stalks and bed numbers, some waterways were deemed inaccessible due to forest fires or lack of water for a canoe, and the fire bans left processors unable to parch their rice!  However, even with all of the challenges, the Wild Rice Project still made leaps and bounds toward its goals!

So far, the Wild Rice House Processing Facility has processed over 2000 pounds of finished rice with 18 customers and more to come this week. We also plan to begin processing other small-grains to expand our reach to small-scale farmers in the region! Due to decrease in fire hazard conditions, we are now able to operate our small parcher for those with smaller batches of rice! The last drop off day was Wednesday September 15th, and the last processing day will be Friday September 17th. If you have questions, please call Blake at 612-298-8561 for more details.

The mentorship program gave 5 wonderful mentees experiences they will cherish for a lifetime and the project team hopes to give those experiences to many more next season!

Poling a canoe through wild rice plants at a wild rice camp in Floodwood, Minnesota

It is crazy how your respect and bond with the plant increases dramatically
when actually harvesting. I know everything about the plant, but had never
actually seen the plant in person until this experience, and it changed
everything for me.” -2021 Mentee

For the educational portion of the Wild Rice Project, we are in the process of planning a second webinar event for the end of September! We will also have a table at the Harvest Booya Festival this coming weekend. More information to come. Updates will be posted on the @FinlandWildRice Facebook Page and our website

Pictures by Photo Journalist Lorie Shaull and used with permission. See her full 50 photo spread HERE

Fresh Catch Grilled Trout

Fresh Catch Rainbow Trout from Echo Lake

by Dan Cahill

Lake County has several excellent trout fishing lakes. Some fishing spots are closely guarded secrets that you can only access while blindfolded with a guide so you don’t spill the beans. Some spots are almost too easily accessible. These trout came from Echo Lake right along Highway 7 (Cramer Road) between the Clair Nelson Rec Center and Trestle Inn. I don’t think anyone will be upset with me giving away this fishing spot. Early spring, Rainbow trout in Echo are active and crush fast artificial lures like small spoons. In late summer, Rainbow Trout can be caught from shore with a slip bobber and worm. It helps to puff the worm full of air to keep it suspended in the water and entice fish to strike.

4 each Whole small trout, innards removed
1 Lemon, sliced into wheels
1 bunch Fresh herb (parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, etc.)
8 cloves Garlic, sliced
2 tbsp Oil
Salt and pepper to taste 

1. Start your grill and preheat on high. Clean your grates and use a folded paper towel to apply oil to the grates, then turn down to low when ready to add the fish. Alternately, on a charcoal grill build an indirect fire. Clean the grates directly over the coals, then rotate the grate to the indirect side before oiling and adding fish. 

2. Prepare the fish. Using a sharp fillet knife, cut the fish open along the belly from the vent to the jaw. Pull out the innards and gills. Use a spoon to scrape away the blood line from the kidney that runs along the back bone. Rinse the trout of all blood and debris and pat dry.

3. Salt and pepper the fish on the outside and inside the cavity. In the cavity of the belly, layer sliced lemons, sprigs of herbs, and garlic. Carefully lay the fish down on the grill. Leave the fish in place for 5-7 minutes without moving or adjusting the fish. Fish can easily stick to a grill and ruin the skin if it is fidgeted too often.  

4. In a smooth motion, slide a spatula carefully under the fish and gently flip to the other side. Cook another 3-5 minutes or until the flesh is flaky and the eyeballs are opaque. 

5. Squeeze fresh lemon over the fish and serve alongside grilled vegetables or fresh salad. 

Local Products: 
Herbs and veggies from Wolf Ridge Organic Farm
Sarah Mayer (218)-220-0194

Herbs and Garlic from Finnskogen Farm
Kaare and Pam Melby (218) 353-7736

Trout harvested from Echo Lake on Highway 7 (Cramer Road)

Producer Profile: Baptism River BBQ Company

Producer Profile: Baptism River BBQ Co.
by Laurie Kallinen

Dan Cahill Mathews has been cooking since he was two years old!  That’s when his father taught him how to scramble eggs while standing on a kitchen chair so he could reach the stove.  It’s no surprise that he and wife, Kaylee, find themselves in the food business. 

“My wife and I moved to the Finland area drawn by the natural beauty of forests and rivers, abundance of outdoor recreation…  (and are now expanding) our mobile BBQ business (Baptism River Barbecue Co.)  As relatively new transplants to the Finland community, (we) are excited to immerse (ourselves) deeper into this vibrant, resilient, and welcoming community.”

I spoke with Dan and Kaylee Cahill Mathews at their Baptism River BBQ stand during Bay Days in Silver Bay.  Prior to this year they had only done a few special events, but had such a positive response last year they are joining the growing food truck movement and have more events scheduled this year.  And considering what it takes for them to set up, that is no mean feat!  

While he’s always been interested in the farm to fork movement, Dan was challenged early on in his business by H. Michael Casper to “Always buy and support local.”  since then it has become a point of pride for the business.  “A lot of effort goes into sourcing locally.”  It includes contacting farms individually and then picking up or shipping the goods rather than just placing an order with one supplier.  Honoring local and respecting the impact to farmers are important for Dan.  He takes pride that, “everything is locally sourced but the buns, …and even those are made by a Minnesota company!”  While those efforts are reflected in a higher price, they take pride in keeping the price as low as possible for the value of the product.

“A lot of effort goes into sourcing locally…
“… everything is locally sourced but the buns,
…and even those are made by a Minnesota company!”

Baptism River’s BBQ style is a conglomeration made up of East (Carolina w vinegar, pepper and maple syrup), and West (Kansas City sweet and smoky) to make his unique Northwoods style.

A day in the life of Baptism River BBQ is actually closer to a week in the making!

Events are often Friday-Sunday affairs with prep typically starting on the Tuesday before.  That’s when the menu is planned and meats are trimmed and seasoned, taking into account what meat is available; pork belly, beef brisket, etc. 

Wednesday is loading of all needed supplies and equipment into their truck to be hauled to the Clair Nelson Center on Thursday. There they rent the certified kitchen to do the rest of their prep work, often arriving by 6:30am.  It’s a full 10 hours to smoke meats, cool and transfer to their staging refrigerator, and make their house-made pickles, coleslaw, sauces, rubs and signature Mac-N-Cheese.  

Friday, event day, they make 2 trips using a U-haul trailer to get all their gear, food, and the large smoker to the site and start it heating up.  While the pulled pork is smoked on prep day, Ribs, chicken, brisket, etc. are smoked the day of an event.  And then there’s the tear-down, 3-1/2 to 4 hours and another two trips to haul it all back home!  Dan and Kaylee are hoping to do well enough this year to invest in their own trailer soon.  When asked what was the favorite thing about running their business, both Dan and Kaylee answered almost simultaneously, “Working together and getting to know people in the community.”

Everything is house-made!

Including; Mustard BBQ sauce, Rubs, and the bread crumbs for the Mac-N-Cheese.  It took 27 attempts to get the right combination of seasonings and crumbs, baked vs stove-top, but when they got it right, Dan exclaimed “Oh %@#&, this is GOOD!” and they knew they got it right.

The Cahill-Mathews’ don’t just want to serve their delicious food, they also have goals:   
 *Promote sustainability by using primarily compostable packaging and cutlery.
      *Be a resource for others who want to start their own business.
      *And “Carve a path to local produce”. 

In fact, Dan stressed to give a shout out to the local producers they use.  They include: 
Beef & Pork – Yker Acres –
Chicken – Rustic Pastures –
Greens – Wolf Ridge Organic Farm –
Cucumbers – Round River Farm –
                    & Finnskogen Farm –
Maple Syrup – Wild Country Maple Syrup –
                        & Minnesota Syrup Co. –
Even his smoker wood is from local loggers!

Producer Profile: Little Waldo Farm

By: Laurie Kallinen

It was a beautiful Saturday morning when I met Jadell Cavallin of Little Waldo Farm, located just outside of Two Harbors.  The property was a neat and orderly collection of different types of gardens.  In fact, there are at least 10 different styles of garden on the farm; High-tunnel, Hügelkultur, Pollinator, Rain garden, Hay bale, Straw bale, field beds, raised beds, no-mow, and perennial gardens! 

Jadell and husband Joe Cavallin have a long history in the area, both having grown up here.  In fact their farm is in an area once known as Waldo township, where the Cavallin family homesteaded in the early 1900’s.    It was natural for the Cavallins to settle in on family land after their marriage.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4ccaef40-d082-2f81-8c87-cee2b5e4dce2.jpg

After studying Aquatic Biology in College, and striving to live a healthy lifestyle, Jadell started a small vegetable garden in 2006.  Her interest grew and so did her garden.  In 2013 the Cavallins received a subsidy to build a high-tunnel, and soon after were growing enough produce to sell at local farmers markets.

Many gardening styles are used on Little Waldo Farm

In 2014 Jadell applied to become a UMN Extension Master Gardener. Expanding her knowledge to include bee keeping and multiple styles of gardening, Jadell’s passion evolved to include not only producing healthy food for her family, and extra to sell at local farmers markets, but also passing on the knowledge and experience she has gained, to other people through classes, tours, and events.  Over the seasons at Little Waldo Farm you can find seedlings, home-canned salsa, jams, jellies, fruits and vegetables both fresh and dried for cooking, and when the bees are really happy, honey and honey comb!  Some of their products are available on their website.  Little Waldo Farm is also raising 2,800 seedlings for the forest assisted migration program.  

In addition to working the farm, Jadell does “Soft-scaping” where she helps local gardeners with custom gardening planning, assisting with garden design/re-design and maintenance, and vacation maintenance. (No one wants to come to return from vacation to wilted gardens!)  With Soft-scaping, watering her own gardens, tending the bees and their rescue rabbits, harvesting produce for farmers market days, and tending to the active needs of their 5 year old son, A.J., every day is full!
Jadell loves being part of the north shore, and local food systems.  “Everyone is doing something different, but we all learn from each other.  It’s a great community to be a part of.”  When asked if there was one thing she’d like people to be aware of, her swift reply was that people should be aware of what is native to our area.  “Keep what is native natural, and add natives to what has been altered.”  

For more information on produce, tours, and events, contact:
Little Waldo Farm
1845 Waldo Road
Two Harbors, MN  55616
Jadell Cavallin, Owner, Educator

Producer Profile: Salt & Light Heritage Farm

by: Laurie Kallinen

HOW in the world did a former enthusiastic VEGAN and an outdoorsman come together and become organic livestock farmers?”  That’s how the Salt & Light Heritage Farm story begins on their website at“ 

 As a young adult, Leah grew dissatisfied with commonly available meat with its chemicals, hormones, and factory farming practices.  Her passion was such that she became a vegan until she started connecting food with farmers.   Having worked on organic farms and gaining experience she began to think, “Maybe I can do this!”  Together with husband Ron, they decided to raise their own ethical and healthy meat, starting Salt & Light Heritage Farm on 80 acres outside of Two Harbors in 2016.  Run by a simple philosophy that respects life, land, water, and air, they honor nature and its inherent laws.  Whether it’s animal or vegetable, there are no pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, GMO’s or “other weird stuff”.  “We believe in working within the delicate balance that our creator, the first gardener, created.” 

Salt & Light Heritage Farm has been growing their own cross-bred heritage chickens, turkeys, and pigs, developing hearty breeds for our area.  Their beef calves come from a northland organic, grass-fed breeder and they take only a few calves at a time, finishing them off to butcher weight, so they have a consistently rotating supply of meat for sale, selling on average 2 beef cows per month.  This symbiotic relationship helps breeder, marketer to be more consistently profitable. Pigs and poultry are butchered a couple times per year.  Beef can be pre-bought “on the hoof”, or by the pound from their website, or because they are able to USDA package for retail sale, you can purchased over the counter at Louise’s Place in Two Harbors.  With a philosophy, “Food is medicine,” the farm is adding fruit orchards, and sells berry plants and sustainably harvested fiddlehead ferns and ramps in season. 

Since Ron also works away from the farm, Leah, with the help of 4 year-old Cherish and 2 year-old Joseph, takes on much of the daily chores.  When asked if she could have one wish there was little hesitation.  “If someone could do the housework, then I could be outside more.  I’d much rather be outside even in the muck!”  A key to success is the rule that “We don’t produce what doesn’t pay for itself.  It costs money to raise good food.”  But their customers share their same values about food, and many have become friends.  “The dividends are in your health”, says Leah.  The farm pricing structure is based on true costs.  Not subsidized by the government.  No sacrifice in animal care.  No sacrificed of the Land.  The next hurdle to tackle is switching to completely biodegradable packaging by early this year, which was written about in a story from the North Shore Journal.  (Read the full story here)

With persistence Salt and Light Heritage Farm finally adopted a high quality backyard compostable packaging solution! It looks and acts just like plastic, provides excellent protection for the perishable products they produce and benefits the environment instead of polluting. By early 2021 their products will be 100% compostable.

Give Peas a Chance: Garden Planning

Wondering where to start when planning a new vegetable garden? View the recent Finland Community Garden (Give Peas a Chance) Garden Planning webinar. Click here to view

The Finland Community Garden is located on Hwy 1 next to Baptism River Community Church. Fenced in raised 4’x8′ lots are $20 per season, and will have clean, fresh soil just waiting to be planted. For more information or to check for availability contact Carol Langer 

Making Mojakka

Hearty Finnish Mojakka (stew)

Making Mojakka
 Dan Cahill Matthews
Friday, March 12, 2021  5:00-6:00p

  Register Here

Do you hear that quiet buzzing? The grasshoppers are stirring from their winter slumber. They’re sleuthing and scheming, eager to devour our young roots and shoots gently springing up from the frozen tundra. And they’re after our grapes! Just like St. Urho, we must summon all the SISU we have to cast them from our land! 

But we can’t fend off grasshoppers on an empty belly! We need a hearty stew to energize our St. Urho’s Day celebrations. We need Mojakka (moy-ah-kah) to muster up the strength to holler: “Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen!”

So join Dan Cahill Mathews in an online cooking class: Making Mojakka – a hearty Finnish Stew to celebrate St. Urho. We will learn about the history of St. Urho’s Day in Finland, the variations ofMojakka throughout the Northland, and the local producers who provide the ingredients for our St. Urho’s Day feast! Then, we will prepare Lihamojakka – a delicious stew of beef, root vegetables,and allspice perfect for fending off the last of the winter cold!
When: Friday, March 12, 2021 5:00pm Central Time(US and Canada)
Ten lucky participants will be randomly selected from the list of registrants to win a Mojakka Meal Kit complete with all the ingredients necessary to prepare their own Mojakka. 

Your Chance to Help

February 11, 2021

Finland Food Chain is working to develop a community based wild rice processing facility, and we are in the running for a generous grant to provide the funds to prepare the selected site to house the processing equipment we obtained last fall.  NE Minnesota Local Farm and Food Projects is part of the Northland Food Network and represents a broad group of farm and food-focused organizations in NE MN.  They are offering grants to 3 finalists to fund a shovel-ready project as well as a variety of other support.  Phase one was a written proposal that was submitted January 22, and well received.  

Friday, Feb. 19th from 2-4pm we will participate in Phase Two, a 2 hour open zoom meeting during which each finalist will conduct a 4 minute video presentation of their project, followed by up to 6 minutes of Q&A.   

Those who join the meeting and watch all 7 presentations will be able to ask questions and vote on which projects will be funded!  If you or someone you know has time and can join us, please do.  It will be interesting to hear the 7 proposals, and this is your opportunity to add your voice to the decision!
Here is the Facebook Link to the event

It’s Maple Syrup Time!

Maple Syrup Season
A tradition in the Northland

Image: Minnesota Historical Society
The blazing colors of autumn have long since fallen and now sleep under a blanket of snow.  But the golden beauty of maples returns to us this time of year in the form of that sweet nectar called maple syrup.  Making Maple Syrup is a longstanding tradition in the northland.  From the Ojibwe tradition of gathering sap in water-tight birch bark containers, to modern operations connecting miles of tubing that funnels sap directly into the sugar house, our love for the sweet nectar of the woods hasn’t diminished. 

The Minnesota Historical Society has created an informative children’s learning module about the traditional methods used by the Ojibwe to make maple sugar and candy.  You can find it  here.

Kaare Melby shares his experience and feelings of maple syrup season in this short video.  Click here to watch.

Producer Profile: Sve Commercial Fishing

There are few things that say “North Shore” more than fresh Lake Superior fish!  For three generations the Sve family has been reeling in the nets to bring that great bounty to individuals and restaurants along the shore.

Watler Sve – age 86 Photo by Ken Vogel

Eric Sve, third generation fisherman, recounts how his grandfather, Ragnvald Sve, immigrated from Norway in the early 1920’s.  Beginning in 1926, Rangveld learned fishing from his father-in-law.  The following year he and his wife purchased the property where the family business, Split Rock Cabins, still exist today.  Ragnvald passed his knowledge on to son, Walter, who was fishing from the time he was “big enough to handle the ores”, (about age 8)!  Walter was still fishing on the open water till the age of 90.  Likewise, Eric and brother Steve started fishing as soon as they were big enough to row a boat, though these days they use an outboard motor!

To become a commercial fisherman today, you must apprentice with a master fisherman for three years before you can apply for a master’s license; and those are few and far between.  There are only 25 licenses available along the whole of Minnesota’s North Shore and many, like the Sves, are kept within the family!  

Fishing is a seasonal industry.  Trout season starts in May, followed by Herring season in later June or early July, but as the water warms the fish head deeper and become more elusive.  “The best time for fishing is in November and December”, says Eric.  “That’s when the herring come in to spawn.”  In addition to the seasonality, another challenge is differing regulations.  With other states taking more quota, Sve has seen a decline in the catch over the past 3 years.   

Though he grew up fishing, Eric began his commercial fishing career after returning from the Air Force in 1994.  A typical day begins by heading out on the big lake before dawn.  “I love to be alone on the water because it is so peaceful.  I really miss it on the days I can’t get out there.”  He also quipped that it’s the only place he can sing, “cuz the fish don’t care!” 

It takes about 1/2 hour to pick a net of fish, and they set 2 or 3 nets a day, trying to  catch about the same amount of fish each day.  Then another hour goes into cleaning the fish.  A typical year brings in around 4-5,000 lbs and on a great year it can be as much as 15,000 lbs.  Much of what they catch is sold to local restaurants, but Eric and his brother Steve, also a commercial fisherman, welcome individual orders. 

Contact Eric at 218-226-4735 or Steve at 218-409-2572 
Check out other local producers in our Directory of Local Food Producers

Listen to a WITP “Moments in Time” radio interview of Walter Sve HERE