Along with the 2021 Co-op Farm Tour on July 10, Keepsake Cidery also hosted its first local meat farmers market July 2-3. (Photo courtesy of Keepsake Cidery)

Learn more about the ‘real people behind the real food’ produced in the local areas at the 2021 Co-op Farm Tour.

On Saturday, July 10, 20 local farms open their gates and barn doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Locally, Keepsake Cidery & Woodskeep Orchard in Dundas, and Sogn Valley Farm and Ferndale Market, both in Cannon Falls will represent the southern region.

“The Co-op Farm Tour is a great way to learn what it takes to get food from the field to your plate,” said Jeni Dean, events and community relations coordinator at Lakewinds Food Co-op, one of the sponsors of this year’s event. “The free guided tours, interactive activities and games make it a family friendly event that many of us look forward to all year. It’s the ultimate farm-to-table learning experience!”

Keepsake Cidery’s Tracy Jonkman said though it is already open on Saturdays, for the local farm’s tour it will be open a little earlier in the morning to accommodate the tour’s schedule. Orchard tours will be available, along with a variety of food options and of course hard cider made from local apples. The organic orchard and cidery includes a tasting room that features natural ciders and local food. While they are first and foremost an orchard, the cidery and tasting room allows them to be a sustainable family-run agricultural business. Keepsake grows apples, pears, plums, grapes, and berries on an organic farm in the Cannon River Valley of southern Minnesota, with apples their biggest focus.

Jonkman says visitors are welcome to stay a little longer and enjoy shaded spaces, and there are also some areas for children to play. Sheep, horses and geese are also on site for visitors to take a look at.

“It’s fun for other people to see the orchard here, and why we are adamant about using local apples. It’s also fun for people to see a more traditional cidery,” Jonkman added.

It’s Keepsake’s first year participating in the farm tour, and Jonkman is looking forward to welcoming visitors.

“We love community engagement and for people to see our philosophy on farming and how to make farms a sustainable operation,” said Jonkman. “Especially with organic, the more we get community members aware of what it takes and bring people to the farm, I think that’s really important.”

Driftless Grown founder and farmer, Sarah Joy added of the farm tours: “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that local food systems are important in the good times and essential in the worst. Farming is a love story that often goes untold … Meeting people on the farm is sometimes the only opportunity for us to share that story.”

Keepsake Cidery & Woodskeep Orchard also likes to support local producers by hosting cookouts on Friday nights with local chefs, locally sourced meat products, full food menus made with local products Saturdays and forage walks in the woods, orchard tours or children’s story time on Sundays.

On Friday and Saturday, it will host its first local meat farmers market. Meat will be available from Dresow Family Farm, Jirik Family Farms, Regeneration Farms, Cannon Valley Butcher’s Block (Friday only) and chicken and duck eggs from Graise Farm (Saturday only). Dresow Family Farms’ brats and Waxwing Farms’ veggies and herbs will be featured in the Friday Night Cook Out with Farmer Nate.

Reach reporter Michelle Vlasak at 507-333-3128 or follow her on Twitter @apgmichelle. ©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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