First Fridays at B: March Announcements

Our third First Fridays at B featured Yoke-Sim Gunaratne of Cultural Diversity Resources and Peter Schott of the International Potluck. Missed the event? Check out the video!

We had a ton of great announcements about upcoming community events and opportunities. Check out the list: 

Jeffrey Miller - Cass County Soil Conservation District
The Cass County Soil Conservation District has partnered with the United Prairie Foundation to create the Prairie Plant. Using all native grass and forb species, the Prairie Planter offers a tallgrass prairie in a pot. The planter provides the beauty of the prairie on your doorstep as well as a habitat for pollinators.
Completed order forms can be sent to For more information, contact Cass County Soil Conservation District 701-282-2157 Ext 3

Mary Jane Johnson -  FM Sustainability Network
FM Sustainability Network to host a meet-up Monday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m., at Front Street Taproom. Paul Jensen with present on opportunities for funding NOx reducing technologies made possible by the North Dakota Department of Health, Air Quality Division.
RSVP to event on Facebook and join the mailing list by sending a message to

Janice Tweet - GleaND
GleaND is a gleaning network that was developed out of a blueprint from Cass Clay Food Partners. This year, we will be working with a few local growers to capture excess produce to donate to local food pantries. There will be many volunteer opportunities during this growing season, and we will have more information as the program continues to develop.
Want more information? Contact Janice via email at

Bukola Bakare - Portable Vegetable Garden
The portable garden project promotes healthy food for families. The project is a self-managed/self-directed sustainable agriculture and food logistics model. It will help build nutritional awareness and education.  It is a home gardening awareness, healthy food choices, and vibrant community project. Children are able to learn where the different types of food they eat come from and how to grow them.
To learn more + get involved, follow the recently created Facebook page for updates.

Mindy Grant de Herrera - Probstfield Organic Community Garden
Sign-up date for the Probstfield Organic Community Garden are April 8-9.
Learn more about garden plots and RSVP to the Facebook event. 

Mindy Grant de Herrera - FAARMS
FARRMS will be hosting a series of training events on March 27th and April 7th.
Get more information on upcoming events

Caroline Mcguire - Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society
The Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society is exploring possibilities of adding an edible orchard to the grounds in North Fargo. Over the next few months, NPBGS is looking for individuals to assist with planning and implementing the garden.
If you or your affiliated group have an interest in local food production, food/plant education, landscaping or gardening, join the conversation on Facebook.

Leola Dahl - Heart-n-Soul Community Cafe
Join Heart-n-Soul for a delicious supper at Cass Public Health on Monday, March 19 from 5-7 p.m. Supper will be prepared by Chef Chris Olson. Pay-what-you-can-afford pricing. All ages are welcome.
Get more details and RSVP on Facebook

Jack Wood - Growing Together - A Community Garden Ministry
Join Growing Together on March 15 to sign-up and learn more about the community gardens. Event will be held at Olivet Lutheran Church (1330 University Drive in Fargo). Arrive at 5 p.m., meal at 5:30 p.m. and event at 6:30 p.m. 
Contact Jack with any questions:

Abby Gold - North Dakota State University Department of Public Health 
NDSU Public Health to host “Health Equity and Social Justice: Bridging the Gap summit” on April 10 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at NDSU Harry D. McGovern Alumni Center. 
Watch Facebook for more details + sign-up info 

Joleen Baker - Prairie Roots Food Co-op
March 6th and 19th at 8:15 p.m. - Prairie Roots Board Meeting (open to members)
March 7th (all day) - Owner Appreciation Day (10% off owner purchases)
March 16th at 7 p.m. - Pairing Food & Cheese Class with Milk Made Catering
Stay connected to all of the member specials + upcoming events by connecting with Prairie Roots on Facebook

Want to submit an announcement for our next First Fridays at B on Friday, April 6? Read the guidelines then submit an announcement here. 

First Fridays at B: February Announcements

Our second First Fridays at B featured Kaye, Abby and Joleen of Prairie Roots Food Co-op. Missed the event? Check out the video!

We had a ton of great announcements about upcoming community events and opportunities. Check out the list:

Rita Ussatis - NDSU Extension Service, Cass County
Kids Cooking School for youth in grades 3-6. Thursdays 3:30-6:30 p.m. | March Series: March 1, 8, 15 & 22, 2018. April Series: April 5, 12, 19 & 26, 2018 | Cost: $15/child. Pre-registration required. Contact Rita for more details: 

Jeffrey Miller - Cass County Soil Conservation District
The 2018 Cass County Community Garden Grants are open, $500 grants are available to enhance current gardens or to install new gardens.
For more information contact Cass County Soil Conservation District 701-282-2157 Ext 3 or email

Verna Kragnes - FARRMS
Internship opportunities are available for those interested in small-farm and vegetable production. Contact Verna for more details:

Todd Weinmann - NDSU Extension Service, Cass County
- Free “Field to Fork” Webinars offered by NDSU Extension Services start February 14. Learn more and register here.  
- The North Dakota Junior Master Gardener Grant Funds are available. Up to $1,000 available to North Dakota for youth education gardens. Application here.

Noelle Harden - University of Minnesota Extension
- Funds available in Minnesota through the Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership. Fund projects related to local food and sustainable agriculture.
Contact Noelle to learn more:
The University of Minnesota Extension is offering a series of free online courses for gardeners and farmers interested in community-based food systems. Learn more and register here.

Jack Wood - Growing Together - A Community Garden Ministry
Growing Together Community Garden Sign up is on March 15, 5 p.m. at Olivet Lutheran Church. More details on the Facebook event or contact Jack Wood:

Taylor Syvertson - Great Plains Foods Bank
Great Plains Food Bank is conducting a Hunger Study in North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota. They need volunteers to assist in conducting 500 face-to-face interviews.
Contact Taylor for more information:

Casey Steele - Heart-n-Soul Community Cafe
The next Heart-n-Soul Community Cafe is Sunday, February 25th, 11am - 2pm at Square One Kitchen and will be prepared by the local chapter of the American Culinary Federation. Follow them on Facebook for more details and contact Leola Daul if you’re interested in volunteering:

Kim Lipetzky, Cass Clay Food Commission
The Cass Clay Food Commission, our local food policy council passed a blueprint (jurisdictional advisory document) related to Healthy Corner Store Initiatives at their January meeting. You can read the blueprint here. The next Commission meeting is Wednesday, March 14, 10:30 a.m. at Fargo City Hall, Commission Chambers.

Want to submit an announcement for our next First Fridays at B on Friday, March 2? Read the guidelines then submit an announcement here. 


First Friday at B: January Announcements

First Friday at B: January Announcements

Our inaugural First Fridays at B took place on Friday, January 5, and featured a presentation by Jack Wood, Nola Storm and Simeon Bakunda of Growing Together ~ A Community Garden Ministry. 

RECAP: Ugly Food Day at the Red River Market

As you may already be aware “Ugly Food” refers to fresh fruits and vegetables that may look a little different than the "perfect" food you find in most grocery stores. They might be bigger, smaller or a little misshapen, but they’re just as good as it’s perfect-looking counterpart, sometimes better!

Reports estimate that 40% of food resources in the United States go to waste each year, often because of the way it looks. If we wasted just 30% less food, we could feed 25 million people. At Ugly Food of the North, our goal is to challenge people to rethink why they deem foods to be acceptable or unacceptable, and to hopefully, waste less food.

This summer, we hosted Ugly Food Day at the Red River Market, an opportunity for the community to enjoy the array of local produce, beautiful and ugly. Vendors were encouraged bring their imperfect produce to the Market and we provided creative signs to encourage patrons to buy and enjoy this produce. We also hosted a Kids Scavenger Hunt where youth explored the Market, met farmers, discovered various ugly foods, and tasted a healthy recipe created by Sanford Family Wellness. After they successfully completed the hunt, they received two free market tolks ($2 value) to buy fresh food at the Market.

Over 50 kids completed the Scavenger Hunt and many families shared that this was an awesome addition to the Market and a wonderful way to teach kids about food waste and local food.

Kudos to the North Dakota Nutrition Council for the mini grant to fund this project!

ADDITIONAL: Ugly Food of the North was also featuring in a news interview on KVRR about ugly food.


Getting Hands On With Waste – A Recap of the Clay County Waste Sort

WASTE – it’s a pretty hot topic in the world of sustainability and rightfully so. Properly collecting and managing waste, and reducing the amount of trash that ends up in landfills is essential to maintaining the health of people and the planet.

This summer the Fargo-Moorhead community is rolling out single-sort recycling, a system where all recyclable materials (plastics, cardboard, glass, etc.) are placed in a single bin, with no sorting required by homeowners. Convenience increases dramatically for homeowners through a single-sort system, and the cities hope this will increase recycling participation in our community.

To get a sense of how much recyclable materials currently end up in the landfill (pre-single-sort implementation), Clay County Solid Waste organized an afternoon for volunteers to come together and sort trash from 100 Moorhead households.  

Ugly Food of the North joined Clay County for the sort to learn more about waste management in our community. These are a few of our key takeaways.

  1. Food Waste is A BIG ISSUE in our Community – As we sorted through the 2,500 pounds of trash, we found a lot of perfectly good food including a half eaten cheesecake, gently bruised fruit, packages of baby carrots, half-eaten rotisserie chickens, and countless boxes of uneaten leftovers. The total weight of organics (food, garden and lawn clippings) collected was 583.2 pounds from 100 households.  There were 14,304 households in Moorhead in 2010, and if these organic waste numbers are consistent with the rest of Moorhead, we estimate that over 83,000 pounds of organics end up in the trash every week, or over 4.6 million pounds each year. And this is just Moorhead! We really need to get a handle on our organic waste, including reducing the amount of food we throw, composting at home, and exploring options for municipal food scrap composting in our community. [For more information about these programs and ways to support growing them in our community, check out the Municipal Composting and Backyard Composting blueprints from the Cass Clay Food Commission.]
  2. Plastic Bags – YIKES! Of the 2,500 pounds of total trash sorted, 62 pounds was just plastic bags, or about 2.5% of the total trash. Yes, plastic bags are convenient and sometimes necessary, but they are terrible for the environment. Everyone can do his or her part to reduce plastic bag use. Get reusable bags and remember to bring them when you shop! Shop for foods in bulk when you can and bring your own reusable containers. If you’re in the market for a reusable bag, our friends at the Red River Market have some of the cutest in town. [Red River Market Opening Day is Saturday, July 8!] If you’re looking to do more bulk food shopping, Prairie Roots Food Co-op is open and they have a fabulous bulk food section.
  3. There’s a LOT of “Trash” that Shouldn’t Be Trashed – Of all the waste sorted, about 78% was true trash (although that does include unnecessary food waste), while 22% (560 pounds) was materials that should be recycled. This included 152.9 pounds of paper, 111.8 pounds of plastic, 93.8 pounds of glass, 88.9 pounds of cardboard, and 27.5 pounds of cans. These numbers represent the large amount of recyclable materials that currently goes to the landfill when it should be recycled. With the new single-sort system, recycling couldn’t be easier and we hope everyone will take advantage. And while recycling is awesome, remember to practice all 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
  4. Appreciate the People who Handle Your Trash – As we sorted the very LARGE pile of trash from a mere 100 households, we quickly realized what a huge and important task waste management is. The people who do this work are passionate about providing the best service to our community while doing their part to reduce the environmental impacts of waste. We are very grateful for these people and you should be too!

We hope you all enjoy and utilize the new single-sort recycling system, and thanks again to Clay County Solid Waste for the opportunity to learn more about our waste stream. We’re excited to use our big blue bins and see the impact of single-sort in our community!


Strawberry Moon Cocktails

In honor of the Strawberry Moon a couple nights ago (!!!) and the arrival of summer, we're celebrating with a cocktail made for sipping on the porch with friends while the weather's warm! Although this recipe calls for strawberry rhubarb syrup, feel free to substitute other berries or fruits as they come in season throughout the summer, or use whichever fruits are going soft in your fridge. Also feel free to experiment with herbs and spices as well--try a handful of rosemary, ginger, clove, or thyme, either on their own or as additions to the fruit. 

 How much fun do these look?! I just love using fun straws to add a little something extra to my drinks!

How much fun do these look?! I just love using fun straws to add a little something extra to my drinks!


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 in. pieces (feel free to use the end trimmings that most people throw out)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced (we used strawberry tops leftover from baking a cake. After you trim off the tops, simply pull the leaves off, and use the bit of fruit left for the syrup. See photo for illustration)
  • 2 tsp vodka (optional, added to keep the syrup fresh longer)

Combine the sugar, water, and fruit in a small saucepan. Cook over medium high heat, until sugar dissolves and syrup simmers, gently smashing the fruit on the side of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon as you go. Reduce the heat and let syrup simmer for 3-5 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and let cool completely. Strain into a jar over a sieve or several layers of cheesecloth. Add vodka, if using. Keep in a tightly covered jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 


  • 2 oz. gin 
  • 2 Tbsp. simple syrup
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • Ice cubes
  • Club soda to top

Combine gin, syrup, lime juice, and a couple cubes ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake until combined + cold. Strain into a glass, add ice, and top with club soda. Take two cocktails (one for you and one for your lover, friend, neighbor) out on the fire escape and cheers!


Ugly Waffles for June

As Lesie Knope would say, "Why would you eat anything other than breakfast food?". The lady makes a good point, and is the inspiration behind this month's "ugly recipe"... WAFFLES! More specifically rye waffles with cacao nibs and pepitas! They're secretly pretty healthy and pack a lot of flavor into a typically less flavorful base. They're also hearty, which I love for brunch when the next time you'll eat is most likely dinner.

 Waffles, work, and friends. But remember, work never comes first. (Waffles come first because you need friends to eat your waffles with!)

Waffles, work, and friends. But remember, work never comes first. (Waffles come first because you need friends to eat your waffles with!)



1 c. rye flour

1/4 tsp salt 

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp coconut oil

3/4 c non dairy milk

1 egg (love Mara's eggs) 

1 tsp orange (or lemon) zest

1 tbsp cacao nibs (plus more to top) 

1/4 c veggie purée (squashes or carrots work swell but feel free to experiment too!) 



You should mix all the wet ingredients together first and then add the dry but I tend to just throw 'em all together at once and mix.

Then throw the batter in the waffle

iron and let it do its thing. 

Top with pepitas, more cacao nibs, and a good amount of maple syrup (especially since this recipe doesn't call for anything to sweeten the batter, the maple syrup really adds another dimension to the flavor!). 

Personally I advocate for a small dollop of almond butter and a couple of slices of banana too!



The Cutest Ways to Showcase Your Love for Veggies

These felted veggies cling to embroidery hoops. They're designed by Veselka Bulkan and we found them via Colossal. No they don't really promote sustainability or reduce your carbon footprint, but they are SO CUTE so we had to share. Happy embroidering!



Food Safety: The Rules of Refreezing

 photo by Cathryn Erbele

photo by Cathryn Erbele

We are all about eating bruised food and ignoring sell by dates when the food smells perfectly fine. But that being said, we do want to help you re-use that food without getting you sick. So here Food 52 breaks down rules for re-freezing. We've summarized the most important points below!


1. Only re-freeze food that has thawed in the refrigerator. If it has thawed anywhere else, use it up. "... since bacteria grows rapidly once thawed, you should cook or refreeze the food as soon as possible. A good general time frame is within 48 hours of thawing, depending on the food." 


2. Refreeze food 48 hours after thawing or less. Aka don't refreeze food that you thawed a week ago. ESPECIALLY meat. 


3. It is safe to thaw raw foods, cook them, then refreeze the cooked version. This one is pretty self-explanatory.


4. Refreeze only once. Yes, I'm talking to you who wanted to make chicken but all the breasts were frozen together so you thought you could thaw them all and then refreeze the ones you didn't end up cooking.


And finally, Food 52 also mentions a few super helpful tips that we wish we had thought of ourselves but didn't so here they are: 

Anything that isn't delicious frozen the first time won’t be good refrozen, either. So soft cheese and milk are out.

Upon freezing, ice crystals puncture the cell walls of these foods, breaking down the emulsions. So those creamy sauces and emulsions won't be the best after that second time in the freezer.



TEDxConcordia College: An Interview with Megan Myrdal

Ever been inspired by a TED Talk? Or been to a TEDx event and thought "This is awesome"? Us too! So when our co-founder Megan got a chance to speak at one, she (way more eloquently than this) was like "HELL YES" because we're passionate about sharing why the local food system matters.

So earlier in April Megan gave a TEDx talk at TEDxConcordia. We thought it'd be an awesome experience to reflect on and inspire others. Here are Megan's thoughts.


Q: How did the opportunity arise?

In early December 2015 Concordia College sent an invitation for current students, college alumni and faculty to submit a proposal to speak at the first TEDx Concordia College. As an alumni and current adjunct faculty of Concordia, I jumped at the opportunity to submit to speak about my passion - ugly food! I was notified in early February that my proposal was accepted. I spent the next two months working with a stellar team of student organizers who helped me develop my talk and feel prepared for the big day - April 7!



Q: Were you nervous? What was going through your mind during the talk?

I have to admit I was quite nervous. I was a speech kid in high school but it had been quite a long time since I’d given a talk of this nature. I decided to go sans notes so it took a long time to memorize - a 15 minute monologue is a good amount of information to commit to memory. Basically if you saw me at any time in the two weeks prior to the talk, I was more than likely running lines in my head. Sometimes, I’d pretend I was talking on my phone while walking home from class and I was actually reciting my talk. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do! During the talk I was pretty focused on the goal of adequately conveying my points and engaging with the audience on the importance of food waste. But, I was definitely thinking about what was coming next in my talk and being prepared for transitions.



Q: If there was only one takeaway from the talk, what would it be?

The title of my presentation was called “The Way You Look At Food Can Change the World.” I truly believe this to be true. If we begin to look at food as more than just a thing. If we start to think of food as a relationship: look at all the people, all the resources, all the time; all the energy, and all the life that goes into producing every single bite of food we eat - it brings our level of respect and appreciation for food to another level. And with respect and appreciation for food’s significance, it becomes much harder to throw any food in the trash.



Q: What advice do you have for others giving a TEDx talk?

I do quite a bit of public speaking but a TEDx talk was something totally different for me. It’s a much more staged speaking engagement than I think most are used to. What helped me was practicing aloud, A LOT and also enlisting friends and family to listen to the talk and provide pointers. Things can come across one way in your head, but may not be conveyed the same to others. Essentially, it’s the age old rule of public speaking: practice practice practice!

I’d also recommend that if you have the opportunity to give a TEDx talk, seize it! The process is challenging and exhilarating, and when you are finished, you definitely feel like you’ve accomplished and been part of something truly special.


Thanks Megan! And thanks Morgan Schleif for these great photos! Killer event.


Pizza! April's Ugly Recipe is Gooey

Something I've started loving to make? Homemade pizza. Don't get me wrong, going out for pizza is good too. But figuring out how to make a really great crust, and topping it with everything your heart desires (without having to pay extra for a single topping), well you just can't beat it.

Something else that's wonderful about homemade pizza? You can make it pretty ugly and it still tastes amazing. And I don't just mean aesthetically ugly (let's be honest... no perfectly round pies are coming from me). You can top it with leftovers, with veggies that are just on the cusp of going bad, you can even use a combination of flours (for example, rice flours are awesome because they are so fine and tender)! Plus, whether it's the dead of winter and you're using herbs you've dried, or the peak of harvest season and those herbs are fresh out of the ground, it's gonna be good. In other words, pizza celebrates all the values we hold at Ugly Food of the North - delicious food, sustainable habits, and none of it will end up going to waste!

Dough makes 2 medium pies.



3 cups flour (we used North Dakota wheat!)

1 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoons dry active yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 and 1/4 cups water (or a little more if you're using heavier flour like whole wheat)


Veggies, meat, cheese, and sauce of your choosing! For this pie we've got an avocado sauce, shredded chicken, peppers, onions, spinach, and goat cheese with a few crumbles of parmesan to top her off. Don't be afraid to experiment with combinations like sweet potatoes, onions, and fennel, or brussels sprouts, pancetta, and a balsamic glaze. Or go simple with San Marzano tomatoes blended with salt and pepper, under a bed of mozzarella, and a few leaves of basil.



To make the dough: Stir water, yeast, and honey together. Let sit until bubbly (about 5-7 minutes). Slowly add the flour and salt mixture and knead until combined. Let it rest for a few minutes while you prepare those toppings.

 It's a pretty simple recipe but make sure that you really work the dough so that there are lovely pockets of air in there and get that oven HOT (just like you).

It's a pretty simple recipe but make sure that you really work the dough so that there are lovely pockets of air in there and get that oven HOT (just like you).

Cooking the pizza: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F for an hour with a pizza stone on the middle rack. (Yes this seems long but trust us... you want a really hot oven.) Roll out your dough, top it with your favorites, and slide it on the stone. Bake at 500 for 4 minutes, then switch to broil for 3 min. (to get that cheesy nice and melty and browned). Take out, slice, and enjoy! 


The Connection Between Farmers & Charitable Feeding

Caroline's Reflections and conversation from behind the bar at the Ugly Food Farmer Panel.

It's basically a fact that local food conversation pairs well with a local beer. The Ugly Food Farmer's Panel was no different - attendees sipped on an assortment of craft brews donated by Fargo's own Drekker Brewing Company while discussing the different farming practices used in our area. As the entry way to the Rourke began to fill, the growlers began to empty, and conversation took a turn towards agriculture. The 70-minute panel discussion touched on many farming issues such as the use of conventional farming techniques, food policy and nutrition, and consumer responsibility (Check out the full event recap blog here). Yet, I found the most intriguing conversation came to me from behind the bar. 

As a social servant working to end hunger (I currently work as the volunteer coordinator for the Great Plains Food Bank), I jumped at the opportunity to speak with two attendees, Nick and Lindsay, who also work within the charitable feeding network. It was no easy task juggling my duties as drink-server extraordinaire and maintaining a conversation about food justice, but no one went thirsty on my watch! We discussed the importance of nutrition when addressing food insecurity and how charitable feeding is trending towards incorporating nutritional policy.

According to Feeding America, almost two-thirds of food pantry clients use their services on a monthly basis, resulting in an ethical obligation for these organizations to provide healthy food to clients.

Food banks acquire most of their donations through industrial food donors, so as the food industry becomes less wasteful, a decline in shelf-stable charitable food donations is inevitable. Therefore, it is important for food banks and pantries to develop relationships with local farmers in order feed clients with healthy foods. The future of charitable feeding is starting to look local, fresh, and maybe even a bit ugly!

Join Ugly Food of the North to learn more about the area's charitable feeding network, the Great Plains Food Bank on Tuesday, April 5 at 5:30 p.m. for a tour and volunteer opportunity. Click here to RSVP and additional details. 

Farming in the Red River Valley - Insight from four area farmers

In the short essay, "The Pleasure of Eating," Wendell Berry makes a profound statement that is widely quoted today: “Eating is an agricultural act.”

Berry, a novelist, activist, environmentalist and farmer has been speaking and writing about food, agriculture and environmental issues for decades. When Berry called the act of eating an agricultural act, he meant every human is involved in agriculture, whether directly or indirectly, because what we eats affects the way land is treated every day.  

This quote and theme was deeply apparent at the Ugly Food Farmer Panel on March 20 at the Rourke Art Museum in Moorhead, Minn. A packed audience of community members joined Ugly Food on a Sunday afternoon to share in a community conversation with four area farmers:



  • Amber Lockhart, Heart and Soil Farm - Diversified vegetable grower near Grandin, ND
  • Nick Vinje, Vinje Farm - Diversified conventional farmer near Gardner, ND
  • Lynn Brakke, Lynn Brakke Organic Farms Certified organic blue corn, soybeans, alfalfa, barley and Angus beef near Comstock, MN
  • Pete Nielson, Dirt Head Microgreens - Indoor microgreen/urban farmer - Fargo

North Dakota Representative Joshua Boschee moderated a thought-provoking discussion between farmers and the community regarding how food is grown and produced in the Red River Valley. While each respective farm varied in production style, products, markets and farming philosophies, all articulated a shared goal: to grow healthy food for a healthy community for healthy planet.

Each farmers shared valuable insights about how they manage and operate their farms on a routine basis, how farm decisions are made, and how they get their food from field to market. The audience asked a range of questions dealing with big agriculture topics (GMOs) to more personal questions such as how do I make good food choices for myself and my family? Here are a few key Ugly Food takeaways from our area farmers:

  1. Talk to a Farmer: Interested in knowing more about your food? Ask a farmer. No one knows more about how food is grown than those who grow it.
  2. Vote with Your Fork: If you want more local food, buy local food. If you want organic, buy organic. The more we ask (or demand) local produce, the more likely we are to get it. Support farmers markets. Purchase a share of a CSA. And ask grocery stores and restaurants if they have local food and buy it. More demand → more supply!
  3. Support New Farmers: If you’re looking to support the sustainable agriculture movement and our local farmers, the simplest solution is to buy their food! Also, invest time into learning about programs working to train and support future farmers such as Farm Beginning Program and FARRMS Intern ProgramFinally, talk to the decision-makers and get to know your elected officials. As the Fargo-Moorhead community strives to be a place that support entrepreneurs, let’s develop ways to support emerging farmers and farm entrepreneurs. As Amber Lockhart so eloquently put it, “Carrots work better than sticks.” We need to create more incentives for young people to join the farming profession.
  4. Food Issues are Not Black & White: There’s no simple, one-size-fits-all solution to the questions regarding food and agriculture today. There is a wide, WIDE spectrum of how food is grown and produced in our area and around the world. Are some practices and food choices more sustainable? Sure. Are some farmers growing healthier food for a healthier planet? Of course. Should we support these operations as best we can so they can continue to grow? Absolutely! However, it is important that we avoid villainizing or pitting one form of agriculture against another. Almost all forms of agriculture are a product of a system - a system that incentivizes certain crops, provides insurance, and develops market places, for some and not others. We live in a community surrounded by production agriculture. Are the dozens of 6,000+ acre corn and soybean operations likely to convert to organic, diversified cropping/livestock systems tomorrow? Probably not. But can we continue to support market places that value diversification, local and sustainable? Absolutely! Can we talk with our decision makers about programs that promote soil health and land preservation? Most definitely. And can we use our food dollar to support our food values? Every. Single. Day.

    A special thanks to our farmers: Pete, Amber, Lynn and Nick for their willingness to share their passion and livelihood with our community. Thank you to Joshua Boschee for facilitating such a great discussion. Thank you to Drekker Brewing Company for generously donating delicious craft beer to compliment our conversation. And finally, thank you to the community for engaging with us. We truly believe in the power of thoughtful, important conversation, and that meaningful conversations can build significant change. This conversation showed a lot of promise for a bright food future in the F-M area.

How do we extend the FM growing season? A tour through Concordia's High Tunnel

Area farmers, community gardeners and local food system activists toured the Concordia College high-tunnel on March 2 to learn more about season extension, the workings of a high-tunnel structure and how to grow more food in & around our Fargo-Moorhead (F-M) community.

According to, a strict definition of a high-tunnel does not exist, and the terms high-tunnel and hoop house are often used interchangeably. A basic definition of a  high-tunnel is a plastic-covered (polyethylene) structure that creates an improved growing environment. High-tunnels aid food production by extending the growing season (i.e. increased temperature in the high-tunnel), by providing protection from the elements (wind, hail, heat, etc.), and by creating a more-stable system to decrease the risk of crop loss and failure.

But how cool is this?! The Concordia high-tunnel is heated through a solar air system - solar panels capture energy from the sun that heats air through tile lines below the soil! Tour leads Tyler Franklin (high-tunnel manager), and garden interns Joleen Baker and Solvei Stenslie informed attendees that this structures has allowed temperatures to reach the mid-70s this winter season and they anticipate putting food into the ground shortly.

It was apparent from the large and diverse number of tour participants that there is great interest in the F-M community on how to maximize the growing season and increase food production within our urban environment. Some tour participants were farmers who already own high-tunnels and wanted to converse about maximizing the use of their structure. The Growing Together Network (one of Fargo-Moorhead’s community gardening program) is exploring various season extension structures, and are interested in seeing the possibilities with a high-tunnel vs. a greenhouse. Members of the Cass Clay Food System Advisory Commission (the F-M metro areas food policy council) are exploring policies and ordinances that promote or prohibit urban agriculture practices. They were interested in discussing the process Concordia went through to build this structure with city officials. But even better was the fact that not all the participants were directly involved in agriculture at the time, which means that interest for sustainable practices, urban agriculture, and fresh, local food is on the minds of many in our community!