Grateful Gathering 2018

On Thursday, November 8, we gathered at Bites Bar and Grill for our annual holiday party. Our crew ate scrumptious hors d’oeuvres, laughed at the great games provided by Janis & Shirlee, snacked on delicious desserts made by Bites owner, Wendy, and then counted our blessings, one by one.

Door prizes were handed out for those that could guess how many beans were in a jar and we even played a form of HDT Jeopardy, to the delight of all participating.

A big thank you to the party planners, Janis, Shirlee, and Chris. I look forward to this night every year. Another success!

 

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Poor Chris G. had to count out over 3,000 kidney beans. That poor guy!

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Shirlee & Janis playing as emcees during the fun night.

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Chris and Michelle G. all smiles.

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Colin and Amy M. happy to be out of the house.

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Jim and Audra C. posing for a picture between stories.

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Quinn, Wayne, and Roy.

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Robert and Janis discussing how much fun they’re having.

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Robert and Terri share a laugh.

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Paul shows off his door prize (a game night in!)

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Rochester, only 19, won a gift basket of vodka and tequila. He quickly exchanged it for the game night prize. ūüôā

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Quinn and Roy show off their door prize of coffee from Stonehouse Coffee in Nisswa.

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Dan and Michelle show off their door prize of a movie night at Bear Pause Theatre in Hackensack.

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Being thankful is the reason for this event.

Four Reasons to Buy Local Turkeys

There are so many reasons to purchase your turkey from a farmer that is local. You can easily find out the conditions the turkey was raised in. You can find out what they feed the turkey. If you’re serious about looking locally for your Thanksgiving feast,¬†Minnesota Grown¬†is a valuable resource that will connect you with local producers throughout the year, not just for Thanksgiving. You can search for the local producer nearest you, or the one that best fits your values.

If you’re still on the fence about whether to go local or not, here are five reasons why searching locally is the best way to go.

  1. No Surprises
    Buying a local free range turkey gives you the opportunity to know what you are eating and where it came from. Buying local gives you the ability to talk to your local farmer about their farming practices, feeding program, and processing program. You should do your research, of course.

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    Your Tom might be as big as this gorgeous fella.

  2. Just Look at Tom Turkey’s Home¬†
    Not really, but you can learn a lot by seeing how a farm raised turkeys are raised. If they’re brought up in a humane environment with the option to the great outdoors, you can check that off your list. They get their nutrition from pecking all day with additional quality feed from the local feed store (compared to the store bought turkeys that are cooped up and fed low quality medicated feed). To be sure of this, you should do your research, though.
  3. What Would you Pay for a Robust Local Economy?
    Buying meats from your local farmer keeps money in your community. Shopping local keeps four times the money in your community‚Äôs economy compared to shopping at chains. The dollars spent locally go towards the regular things your local farmer buys! (How Quaint!) These include dentist bills, holiday presents, and other things that other “normal” people buy around town. So, shop local! Your farmer will thank you!

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  4. Your Taste Buds will Thank You
    Knowing where your meat is coming from, how it is raise, and how it is processed will automatically make you enjoy Thanksgiving dinner that much more. But the truth is, a farm fresh free range turkey tastes better. Usually, they are not pumped full of preservatives, saline, or other added ingredients. When you buy from your local farmer you are getting what you pay for… fresh turkey. But, as always when making a choice of this nature, you should do your research. 

Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 13: Q&A with Lois Braun

Last week, we were able to pull University of Minnesota researcher Lois Braun into the recording studio. She opened up her world of hazelnut plantings and cross-country experiments for us all to learn.

This special episode of Turtle Talks is a Q&A session with Lois and her technical assistant, Connor. On this day, they came up to the HDT gardens to plant over fifty hybrid hazelnut plants. (You can check out pics from the planting here!)

You can read more about her research at www.midwesthazelnuts.org/

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The Shady Chicken Project Now Underway

Last week, over 50 hazelnut plants were installed in our south field. As part of the Shady Chicken Project, Lois Braun has chosen HDT to be one of the test sites.

Lois’s important work as part of the Forever Green initiative promotes improving natural resources and economic opportunities for farmers. Diversified income streams and perennials on the landscape are both things HDT can get behind! Find out more about Forever Green here:https://www.forevergreen.umn.edu/

If you want to learn more about the work Lois and the Upper Midwest Hazelnuts coalition are doing, their website has some great information. 

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We designed the experiment to have spacing of five feet between each plant and 12 feet between each row.

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We welcomed Lois Braun from the University of Minnesota. She is running her hybrid hazelnut experiment at several different locations through MN and WI.

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Preparing your Home for Winter

*This post was initially published way back in 2012.*

How Will You Prepare for Winter?

I drive to work everyday. It’s a drive from Brainerd to Pine River, about 35 miles. It takes me about 45 minutes to get from driveway to parking lot. There are stoplights, stop signs, merging traffic, and other nuisances on the way. But, mostly I get to zing up (and down) Hwy. 371 at about 60 mph. Now, along this drive, I see not one, but four different businesses that are advertising their boat winterization services. Some will offer free storage while others will offer free shrink wrapping. It’s a good time of year to need boat winterization, apparently. Now, other than serving as a reminder that central Minnesota is still (and forever shall be!) the boating and fishing capital of the world, these winterization billboards are serving another important feature.

They’re telling us that Winter is Coming!

Let us take solace in the famous utterance of Eddard Stark that, yes, winter is truly

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You tell ’em “Ned”

coming. But, instead of huddling in our homes and turning the furnace temperature to the heat setting we should use this warning as an opportunity to ready, prepare, and indeed, brace ourselves for the oncoming cold. I’ve done a little research and found some things that are easy to do around the house that will make this coming winter that much easier to endure.

First, I contacted Roger G, an engineer and an all-around nice guy. He works for RREAL, a great non-profit organization that outfits low income families with solar panels to help combat heating prices. But, before they just attach the panels, they have to make sure that the house itself is best suited to the benefits of solar energy. In other words, they require that the home be weatherized before the begin installation. This weatherization includes proper weather stripping, sufficient insulation (throughout the home), and storm windows. These are just a small number of things you can do to save money and energy. Roger recommended I look to the local utility companies to see how best to winterize my home.

I looked to several utility co-ops and found some good tips. But, where should you begin? Here are a couple ideas.

Step #1 Schedule an energy audit.

Check out this video put together by the Dept. of Energy. These audits are often subsidized by your utility company. Contact your provider to see if they have programs in place to help you get your audit at least partially paid for.

Step #2 Fill those cracks.

Using the knowledge from your energy audit, you’ll see where you need to apply insulation. However, these are the most likely culprits for allowing heat to escape. Some of the best ways to stifle heat loss in your home are by¬†caulking joints,¬†covering your windows in plastic, and using¬†foam gaskets on your outlets

Step #3: Install a Programmable Thermostat.

Doing this very simple (and inexpensive) option will help you save up to 20% on your utility bill. So, with the one time purchase of $40, you’ll get a return on investment in no time. Check out this video on how to install one. Not too difficult. Again, look to your utility company to see if they offer benefits for installing a programmable thermostat. Some even offer rebates to lower the cost even further.

 

If you want more information on preparing for the cold of winter, I suggest looking at what the Clean Energy Resource Team has put together. Also, Excel Energy has a more detailed pamphlet on making your home tip top for the oncoming winter.

The Art Form of Gardening

Every other week, I get together with the Food and Water Security (F&WS) program side of Happy Dancing Turtle. For the last several months, we’ve been putting together a podcast that covers the struggles (and successes) of working in a garden. We sit inside around the conference table with two microphones positioned to get everyone’s voice just so. We talk about the weekly CSA, if any problems came up during harvest (such as varmints or other critters), and other things that we think people would like to hear.

During one session we discussed how, despite planning, scheduling, and forecasting, the frost hit a bit earlier than expected and pushed up “putting the garden to bed” element of the work, probably by two weeks. I ribbed Jim C, our F&WS manager, that next year he’ll have to use science to best predict when the crops will eventually finish their season. I was surprised by his reply.

“There is a definite science behind the workings underneath the ground and when plants best grow, but working with a garden is also an art.”

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Our garlic rows are snuggled in and ready for the winter.

He explained that to work with a garden, and living things such as plants and ecosystems, is to know an art form.

The seasons have rhythms. Things will get warm, things will grow, things will bloom, things will be harvested, and then, eventually, gradually or suddenly, things will be ready to start over.

That’s where we’re at now. In central Minnesota, we get only a limited amount of time before the garden needs to go home; now is the time where it needs to go home and turn off the lights.

However, following Jim’s logic, there are many ways to make sure your garden is ready for next year. There are methods that we can only suggest, simply because gardening is not a science. It’s an art form.

 

Harvest Recipes

In Minnesota, we have our four seasons, and at the end of the bright, sunny, summer, leading into crisp, sweater-weather, fall, we are inundated with a bounty of end-of-season produce that can make your grandmothers recipe book open by itself in excitement!

Just take a quick look at some of the most used produce here in MN; we’ve got garlic, squash, potatoes, carrots, romaine lettuce, spinach, pumpkins, and apples. There’s a lot to go with here, lots of directions to go. Do you want a savory, filling, meal? Are you looking for a light, fresh, entry? Are you hankering for a sweet treat?

Fall is the best time to make your taste buds scream in joy. Here’s a few recipes that will take advantage of the bounty you’ll find.

Pumpkin Curry

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We’ll start with something a little different. Of course, there’s the popular pies, cupcakes, coffee drinks that usher in the cool weather. But, what if we tried to do something a little different with our pumpkins. Let’s make a deliciously savory & spicy dish. Note: You can use any winter squash . The texture and taste is all up for grabs.

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HUG Campus Open House

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Visitors were able to visit the buildings and gardens all over campus.

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Brittany gave visitors a tour of our mushroom farm and compost mound.

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The Hieroglyphics room is a highlight of Old Main.

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Visitors were able to tour the gardens and hoop houses.

On Thursday, September 20, we hosted our very first open house. Hearty visitors braved rain and gloom to learn about what goes on up here.