Minnesota River Valley farms featured in co-op sponsored farm tour - St. Peter MN: News

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Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013 12:00 pm | Updated: 4:38 pm, Fri Jul 11, 2014.

More than a dozen Twin Cities-area food co-ops, including one in St. Peter, will hold their third annual Eat Local Farm Tour July 20, inviting local residents to walk with cows, milk a goat, taste locally made cheese, learn more about Minnesota wines and more.

Becca Haack, education and outreach coordinator at the St. Peter Food Co-op, said the tours give visitors the chance to connect with local farmers and learn more about how their food is produced.

“The purpose of the farm tours is to get more people aware about the food that is local to our area …” Haack said. “We have a lot of producers right here in our local area. Maybe people drive past the farm or are semi-aware that they’re there. This is a chance to meet those farmers.”

The tour itself will feature 18 different farms, all within driving distance of the Twin Cities. It is split into several different loops — a northeast, Northfield east, Northfield west, St. Peter and urban.

Those touring the St. Peter loop will visit the East Henderson, Kohnert Organic and Living Land farms and Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery. The farms can be visited in any order, and at any time within their specified hours. Visitors can visit all the farms in a loop, farms in multiple loops or just one. Each tour takes a slightly different format.

“Each individual farmer decides what they’ll do,” Haack said. “Some have a self-guided tour and some have a farmer that will lead the tour.

Haack said while the tour day is popular, more people come from the Twin Cities than St. Peter to visit the farms. The St. Peter Food Co-op is trying to shift some of that popularity south, she said.

That starts with spreading the word. The St. Peter Co-op will post tour previews on its Facebook page and will be arranging a carpool or caravan for those interested in going. A sign-up sheet will be at the co-op’s customer service desk, as well as a map and more information about the tours.

Kari Binning, tour organizer and marketing manager at the Mississipi Market in St. Paul, said the tour itself has grown in the past three years, growing from 11 farms to 18. More than 700 people visited the farms last year, many from the Twin Cities.

Intended to get people to “step out of their cars and meet people,” it is a great chance to promote the farmers and the food they put so much time into producing.

“The mission is to strengthen that connection between people that are eating local foods and the people that do the work to bring those foods to us,” Binning said.

Listed below are the farms in the St. Peter loop, the times they will be open for visitors and what the tours will include.

East Henderson Farm—Josh and Sally Reinitz

Open: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Address: 30083 290th St., Henderson

Phone/Email: 612-756-3971/csainfo@easthendersonfarm.com

Website: www.easthendersonfarm.com

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1aeMvR7

Tour includes: Goods for sale (produce, eggs and whole chickens) complementary refreshments and samples.

Description: East Henderson Farm grows and sells a diverse array of vegetables and livestock, as well as some wild edibles. Josh and Sally Reinitz will give tours of their farm every hour on the hour. Their vegetables are certified organic and sold through a 90-member CSA, at restaurants and at food co-ops. Their livestock is organically raised on pasture and many of the farm buildings (including the house) are built from lumber salvaged from barns and log cabins.

Kohnert Organic Farms—Jennifer and Jason Kohnert

Open: 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

Address: 18009 State Hwy. 99, Montgomery,

Phone: 612-703-7571

Tour includes: Samples and complimentary refreshments.

Description: Visitors to Kohnert Organic Farms can take self-guided walking tours of the second generation, 80-acre organic farm. The tour will provide the opportunity to see a wide variety of organic vegetables and medicinal herbs in various stages of growth. The Kohnerts will be available to answer questions after the tour. The farm was started more than 25 years ago and initially sold medicinal herbs. The farm has since expanded to vegetables, which are sold through the St. Peter Food Co-op.

Living Land Farm—Adam

Ellefson and Lupita Marchán

Open: 11 a.m.–2 p.m.

Address: 42199 Ottawa Rd., St. Peter

Phone/Email: 507-720-5364/livinglandfarm@yahoo.com

Website: www.livinglandfarm.com

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1aeN39C

Tour includes: Complimentary refreshments.

Description: Living Land Farm owners Adam Ellefson and Lupita Marchán will hold an open house and lead a guided tour at 1 p.m. Self-guided tours will take place throughout the day. The 22-acre farm — 16 acres woods and six acres tillable land — is located in the Minnesota River Valley along the scenic Ottawa Bluffs. Ellefson and Marchán distribute their harvest to CSA members and they sell wholesale to St. Peter Food Co-op and River Rock Coffee. Visitors will also observe (from a distance) bees in action, cared for by Hendrycks Apiaries.

Chankaska Creek Ranch

& Winery—Erika Masias

Open: 3-6 p.m.

Address: 1179 E. Pearl St., Kasota

Phone: 507-382-6314

Website: www.chankaskawines.com

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/18QtXc7

Tour includes: Meals for purchase and goods for sale.

Description: Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery is a Minnesota vineyard and winery located in the heart of the Minnesota River Valley. The winery’s 12,000-square-foot facility boasts state-of-the-art equipment, which allows staff to perfect their artisan winemaking techniques with the cold-climate grapes grown in the vineyard. Visit the winery for a grape-to-glass experience every hour on the hour and learn about the challenges of growing grapes in Minnesota and the special skills required to turn them into tasty wines.

Reach reporter Jessica Bies at 507-931-8568 or follow her on Twitter.com @sphjessicabies

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