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Happenings newsletter

David Abasz

David Abasz shows visitors around the Wolf Ridge Farm greenhouse in June.

By Ronnie Schwenn

This past summer brought many changes to Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, located just outside of Finland, Minnesota. The staff and many volunteers have been working hard to help farm director David Abazs make his vision for a robust local food system in the north woods a reality. In the past two months, the crew at Wolf Ridge has completed two new 30' x 96' hoop houses, finished a new timber frame education pavilion, and installed a pizza oven-all in time for the busy, full-day curriculum season for school groups.


Sinda Nichols presents the findings of her design thinking group's prototype for the future of extension at the Rural Design Conference at University of Minnesota Crookston on July 31. Also pictured are Kamana Dhakwha (College of Design research fellow) and Kathy Draeger (RSDP statewide director)

By Sinda Nichols, program director, Minnesota Campus Compact

Over 120 people convened at the University of Minnesota Crookston for the Rural Design Conference: Thriving by Design II, on July 30th and 31st, 2014, focusing on meeting challenges to Minnesota's rural communities through design techniques. I was pleased to attend the Extension Reconsidered conference track as a staff representative of Minnesota Campus Compact (MNCC), a coalition of 38 colleges and universities including all five University of Minnesota campuses, committed to promoting civic engagement in higher education.

RSDP supports innovative River Explorers program

By Ronnie Schwenn


UMN Crookston faculty Katy Nannenga and daughter Grace paddle the Sand Hill River on an outing organized by River Watch's Wayne Goeken for the Rural Design Conference and RSDP's Statewide Coordinating Committee.

Minnesota may be the land of 10,000 lakes, but in Northwest Minnesota, citizens are trying to direct attention to a different water resource: rivers. Two years ago, Wayne Goeken, special projects coordinator with the Fargo based International Water Institute, approached Northwest RSDP (NWRSDP) for support to expand the youth-oriented River Explorers. NWRSDP provided key funding for the project, which, under the auspices of the pre-existing River Watch program, will provide opportunity for more kids to get outdoors and connect to the natural world and promote rivers as assets to the tourism base of the region.
Chuck and Barb Schulstad

Creating Deep Relationships Lies in the Roots

By Chuck Schulstad

Barb and I were quite newly retired from our careers as elementary school educators. We retired to our Schulstad family century farm in 2003 and were actively involved with gardening and managing a U-pick raspberry patch.  Berry pickers often noticed our garden next to the patch and ask if we had any produce for sale. At that time we had not considered raising produce in salable quantities, but the idea began to take shape.

Read the article on the NW newsletter page

A busload of insight into rural grocery stores

By Greg Schweser, Associate Director Sustainable Local Foods, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP)

bus-small.jpgOn June 8, 19 rural grocery store owners, farmers, Extension educators, economic development specialists, and local food advocates from Minnesota got on a bus to Manhattan, Kansas for the Rural Grocery Summit held on the next two days. With financial support from Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, RSDP organized the charter bus, picking up riders in Brainerd, Willmar, and Jackson.

University Collaboration Creates Lasting Change

By Virajita Singh, Senior Research Fellow, UMN College of Design


As we were beginning our design assistance work for greater MN and other communities (the program is now called Design for Community Resilience), Linda approached us about the Baudette project. This project became one of the projects we worked on with RSDP. Along with Linda and Joanne Kellner, the Depot Preservation Alliance (DPA) Representative, we discussed the possible needs of the project and outlined what we could offer through our Center for Sustainable Research.

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NMSDP works with residents on the North Shore to improve historic park

By Susan Seabury, CRS Marketing

At the base of the Cross River just south of Schroeder stands the marker honoring the life of a man who had a major impact on northern Minnesota. Approximately 1,700 people pass this marker every day as they drive Highway 61. They see the highway sign for it yet very few stop. The marker is a cross which memorializes Father Frederic Baraga, a priest who gave up a privileged life in Central Europe to work with Native American peoples in North America.

RSDP connects Main Street Project to U of M Resourceschickens.jpg

Is it possible to create a small-scale sustainable agricultural system in today's food market, which is dominated by large producers and processors? In partnership with the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) and many others, the Main Street Project, based in Northfield, is experimenting with a scalable, integrated poultry and crop production system that could utilize plots as small as a quarter of an acre.  

Mary J. Page (1934-2013) was a trailblazer and a leader who fought to give a voice to rural Minnesota. Whether it was as the first woman Mayor of Olivia, MN, or as the commissioner of Renville County, she worked tirelessly to promote the needs of Greater Minnesota through her citizen-driven service.

Deep Winter Greenhouse Enriches Wadena Community, Youth

The organizers of the brand new deep-winter greenhouse in Wadena, Minnesota picked an especially harsh winter to open for their first season. The greenhouse has been in operation since its grand opening on November 20th, 2013, and is already producing vegetables like radishes, lettuce, and peas--even through the worst of this winter's polar vortex.

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