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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Southeast > Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems > Farm Story Book Project: From the Farm to the Table

Farm Story Book Project: From the Farm to the Table

Purpose

To report on the state of agriculture and farming in southeast Minnesota driven by a vision of an agricultural and food system that sustains abundant biological and cultural diversity, attends to land, human and animal health, and provides opportunities for farm families to survive in place and smaller communities to flourish. This project is one of extending the discussion about sustainable agriculture and sustainable development to the communities we try to serve. Engagement by the broader community is imperative if “sustainability” is to move beyond an ideal to a reality.

Partners

Partners:
  • Southeast Minnesota farmers & food industry reps
  • Community Rural America Arts Partnership/Jon Hassler Writers Center, Community
  • Eva Barr - Dream Acres Farm, Community
  • Joey Robison, Community
  • Loft Literary Center, Community
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Organization
  • Landscape Human and Animal Health Initiative, University
  • Dick Levins - College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences (at the time), University Faculty

Activities

Sponsored author Gary Holthaus to write a book that reports on the state of agriculture
in southeast Minnesota. Through the Jon Hassler Writers Center in Plainview, project
director Gary Holthaus, over a three year period, gathered data, information and stories
from farmers and town representatives.

In 2007-2008, contracted with local foods/promotion specialist to organize book
readings and signing events in Minnesota and promote the book via radio, magazines,
library readings, conference appearances/book tables, bookstores, brownbag with MISA
and encourage use in high school and university courses.

Outcomes

  1. A fair, balanced, accurate, educational and compelling story
  2. The book project got off the ground and onto the bookshelves in November 2006.Gary Holthaus’ From the Farm to the Table: What All Americans Need to Know about Agriculture was published by the University Press of Kentucky as the first in its series, Culture of the Land: A Series in the New Agrarianism.
  3. Two additional books produced by Gary which highlight interviews with southeast Minnesota farmers and other key farming interests, including University representatives, entitled Ours for a While: Farmers talking about Farming and Brown Trout, Dairy Cows and Watershed
  4. A readers theater production based on Farm Stories research (performed in eight locations) and an accompanying photograph exhibit
  5. A better educated public
  6. A “sub-project” of co-sponsoring the Rolling Plains Art Gallery visit to Plainview along with the Passport Club of the Plainview Area Community and Youth Center. SE RSDP/ERC Board member Sara Grover organized an art festival and auction for school groups and the public to experience art from regional (MN & ND) and local artists. The Farm Stories photographs and a reading from Gary Holthaus were part of the festival.
  7. 13 additional readings and facilitated discussions sponsored by SE RSDP/ERC.
  8. 20+ additional readings organized by author or others.
  9. Study circle” guides for using Farm Stories material in community settings
  10. Ongoing sales via U of KY Press
  11. Ongoing readership via circulation of 20 copies within the SELCO public library system throughout Minnesota
  12. Ideally, a better educated public and innovative policy recommendations

Funding

$163,900

Leveraged resources

$48,085
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