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!
“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 www.finlandwildrice.com.
Pictures by Photo Journalist Lorie Shaull and used with permission. See her full 50 photo spread HERE
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.
Ingredients: 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
Steps: 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 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”.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com www.littlewaldofarm.com
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 organic-mn.com.“ 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Stefan Meyer email@example.com
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.
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
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.
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.
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.