With the holiday season upon us, many of us are focused on giving the perfect gifts to our loved ones. Whether it’s the latest gaming system or a fun new kitchen gadget, we spend a lot of time and money shopping for gifts each holiday season.
This season of giving is also a good time to look at ways we can give back to our community. There are so many opportunities to give back that it’s easy to find a way that fits you and your family’s interests and means.
Adopt a family
Many local family centers, churches, schools, and other organizations offer programs for people to “adopt” families who have needs they can’t meet during the holiday season. This can mean anything from providing gift cards to the family, to supplying the components of a holiday meal or purchasing toy and clothing gifts for them. Some organizations also set up trees in local shopping centers where you can choose an “ornament” from the tree that lists needs for individuals and/or families. After making those purchases the ornament and gifts are dropped off at a listed location and will then be provided to those individuals.
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.
- 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.
Your Tom might be as big as this gorgeous fella.
- 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.
- 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’s 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!
- 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.
So you’re drowning in vegetables?! It’s that time of year! A few things to keep in mind: a. You likely chose this situation (signing up for the CSA, planting the garden, buying at the Farmers’ Market/Farm Stand, leaving your car door open), b. It can be managed, c. You are not alone! Welcome my friend, we’re in the same club.
There are options for how to handle the overabundance that is likely pushing against your fridge door’s capability to seal (or is this just my fridge?). Eat right now, eat soon, or preserve/prepare for later consumption, or find a new home – these are the options we’ll be addressing.
Eat Right NOW
Salsa – Fresh garden salsa might be one of the reasons I survive winter each year. The gorgeous variety of tomatoes and peppers can wow any audience. *Plus, you can can OR freeze salsa! Continue reading
Some of my best memories are of times my father took my sister and me camping. We wouldn’t go far off the beaten path. In fact, our location of choice was the Gull Lake Camp Ground, just west of Brainerd International Raceway. (We could hear the big boys all day, even miles away).
The point I’m trying to make is that even though we weren’t exactly “roughing it.” We were only a short drive away from any population, restaurants, hospitals, or help. Yet, we always had the proper safety equipment close by and followed common sense camp rules.
I talked with Dave W. who takes his kids camping on a more frequent basis and he shared a few things and tips that he uses for safety at his campsite.
- First Aid Kit – A well-stocked FAK should include bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain medicine, tweezers, safety pins, and an instruction manual. These are only the basic and you can fit yours out as full or bare as you like.
- Insect Repellent – This is more of a long-term safety item. The fewer insect bites you have to deal with, the better. A good repellent keeps mosquitos and ticks away while you’re out in the wild. However, remember to check for ticks after your activities in the woods, and before bed. Those little guys can get anywhere.
- A reliable source of water. – You can trek yours in, but that stuff is heavy! If you can’t bring yours in, you’ll have to rely on a local source. Make sure to boil any water you intend to drink for several minutes. A water filter is a good idea, as well.
- Keeping your food safe – You’ll want plenty of ice for temperature sensitive foods like uncooked meats (yummy hotdogs!), and dairy products. You can also try canned, dried, or fresh veggies and fruits for your trip. The last thing you want is to get sick while out in nature.
Dave is also a volunteer firefighter at Pequot Lakes, and he tells me that taking care of your fire is one of the best ways to keep forest fires from happening. He recommends the following.
Notice the rock ring. This helps keep the fire from spreading out.
Dousing the fire with water is a great way to extinguish your campfire.
Combined with the stir method, you’ll be practicing safe campfires etiquette in no time.
- Use a fire ring or rocks around a campfire. This can be part of the fun of a new campsite, building the fire circle. If you can’t find any rocks, clear the area of combustible material (needles, leaves, etc.) five feet in all directions around your fire area.
- The campfire itself should only be three feet or less in height. Keep it small, keep it manageable.
- Keep water and a shovel nearby. Also, it’s good practice to never leave a fire unattended. Sparks can fly when you’re least expecting it.
- When you’re done with your campfire, use the drown and stir method. Pour water on the coals and stir with a shovel or stick to make sure all embers are extinguished.
Wherever you decide to set up camp, you should be able to last the night with these few tips. If you have any ideas for camp safety, we would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below!
“In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States and its possessions, leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” -Excerpt from The Wilderness Act of 1964
Wilderness camping is what camping is meant to be all about. You’re powered by the work of your own body; your luxuries are limited to what you’re able to carry yourself; you’re away from the hustle and bustle of society and large crowds; you rely on your own resourcefulness to get past bumps in your journey. This type of camping takes a bit more prep work – planning a route, planning your meals, packing the right equipment, and making sure you have a plan in case something goes wrong. Often, wilderness camping takes you out of cell service range, which can be a curse and a blessing all at one time. That inability to connect with the world at the touch of a button can give you a true “unplugged” vacation, allowing you to reach a whole new level of relaxation. At the same time, you need to be aware that if something did go wrong, you may not easily be able to get help. So planning for this type of trip is key to your success. That being said, this is in no way a comprehensive guide. If you’re new to wilderness camping, do some serious research about any trip you plan on taking. Think of this as a jumping off point.
On Friday, August 3rd, the Honor the Earth Riders made a stop on their journey west to east, trailing where a proposed oil pipeline is scheduled to be laid. With much delicious food and lots of uproarious music, the group made their stop on campus for their third straight year. You can find out more on their site, http://www.honorearth.org.
Honor the Earth is a group that brings awareness to the way water is used. They are currently dedicated to stopping any oil line going through their lands.
Kerri, from the Celtic duo Sister Tree, takes a moment to tune her fiddle before playing.
In my opinion, this is definitely the place to start. It can be done with relatively little investment (so you can decide if camping is for you before you go all in) and it can be done with relatively little risk (which can increase with wilderness camping). When I say car camping, I don’t mean sleeping in your car, although that is an option some people choose. I mean you drive your car and park it at your campsite, cabin, yurt, or other camp lodging option, allowing you to bring some luxuries along that wilderness camping does not.
Not exactly packing “light”
We’re talking about camping all this month here at HDT. It’s a great time to squeeze in that last minute camping trip with the family before the school year starts, a trip with your best pals, or a solo trip all by yourself! Whoever is involved, it’s one last time to relax in your hammock, lounge at the beach, get your heart beating on a hike, or hang around the campfire while enjoying the summer weather. Time in nature has a multitude of mental, physical and emotional health benefits. You can read all about them in our previous blog. But to sum it up, time in nature helps us hit the reset. It’s a chance to relax, unplug from our screens, clear our minds, analyze life’s challenges with a different perspective, and to appreciate all the natural beauty in the world around us.
“Wilderness to the people of America is a spiritual necessity, an antidote to the high pressure of modern life, a means of regaining serenity and equilibrium.”
– Sigurd Olson
For folks who are relatively new to the world of camping, it can be a little overwhelming as there are endless ways to camp! There are public campgrounds and private campgrounds; state parks, national parks, and regional parks; you could camp in a tent, RV, yurt, or cabin; you can get to your campsite by car, boat, bikes, horses, feet, and probably a few other ways I haven’t been creative enough to think of. Even once you decide what type of camping is for you, you have to decide where to go, what to bring, how to select your site, what safety precautions to consider, what you’re going to eat and how to keep yourself entertained once you’ve arrived. It’s all a lot to consider, but we’re going to try our best to walk you through it in this month’s blog posts! The first thing you have to decide is where you’re going to go. Continue reading
During the first week of June, I left for a 10 day adventure in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). This was the third annual trip I’ve taken with a friend of mine, Bry. Although traveling is one of my favorite pastimes and I am always careful to carve time out of my busy schedule for trips, the annual Boundary Waters Trip holds a special place in my heart. From the moment my paddle hits the water, I’m enchanted by the mesmerizing colors and reflections in the endless waters. The dark water against the bright blue sky, with the light green of the new leaves of the deciduous trees blending with the dark greens of the conifers, and the sunlight making it all sparkle just so – it captivates my attention, letting all my worries from the “real world” slip away.
Summer is here, and we are dedicated to squeezing every last drop of sunshine out of these warm months as we can. In the spirit of summer, we are giving you a look at a few of the fun things you can do in the area.
Starting off, let’s hear from Jim C, who is writes about how mountain biking has invigorated the small community of Crosby-Ironton.
I’m a Crosby – Ironton Ranger, class of ’82. Growing up in Deerwood, we kind of looked down on Crosby as a washed up mining town. Businesses were dying and the economy struggled. An important source of high value ore, the Cuyuna Range played an important role in WWII, but production slowed after the war, and the last open pit mine closed in the early ’70’s. The Scorpion snowmobile plant closed about the same time. In high school the “mine pits” were a playground where we drove three wheelers and had parties. We called them the “mine dumps,” a wasteland with barren overburden hills and lots of bare soil. But some “Rangers” saw potential. A few visionaries and community leaders worked tirelessly to protect these “dumps” and give them a chance to heal, and in 1993 the Cuyuna State Recreational Area was formed.
Red tires are the symbol of the MTB riders in the area.
Fast forward to current day. The barren overburden hills are now covered in forest. The slopes leading to the clean, clear mine pit lakes are vegetated and, for the most part, stable. Though a struggle to make happen, there are currently over 25 miles of world-class mountain bike trails with plans for another 50. Snorkeling, trout fishing and kayaking in the pit lakes provide additional recreational opportunities. And like the natural environment of the mine lands, the town has begun to heal. New businesses are opening to cater to the tourists that flock to the area and new residents are moving to the area for the abundant recreation. Both the land and the community are healing…