He not busy being born is busy dying.”
As the saying goes…when it rains, it pours. The last week has been a whirlwind of activity. I’ve missed out on a lot of sleep and haven’t had the time to reflect until now, but it’s been worth it. On Friday I went to visit with Joe & Terrie Adams of Marshwatch Farms. Marshwatch runs on a CSA model and takes advantage of a broad community approach to running their farm and producing food on their land. Through grants from the state of Minnesota, they were able to install a large hoop house to lengthen their growing season and produce more variety. They also took advantage of creating a living snow fence, which has multiple benefits: they keep snow drifts off the nearby road, keep the moisture provided by the snow on their soil, and during the warmer seasons, provide a perfect habitat for pheasants, grouse, and other game and song birds.
Terrie talked to me at length about their model and some of the interesting choices they’ve made (leasing part of their land for use as an apiary, providing a large patch of pick-your-own herbs and tea, and creating a communal space on their land for CSA members to congregate, just to name a few). They are certainly on the cutting edge of the CSA model, and are doing everything they can to spread knowledge, general good will, and good food to those around them.
Marshwatch also acts as a teaching-farm by hiring interns and volunteers to help with the planting, harvesting, and care of all of the crops. A lot of farming knowledge is only passed down by word-of-mouth, and Joe and Terrie are doing their best to pass their knowledge to as many people as possible. Aside from all of this, they’re incredibly interesting and generous people. I spent hours talking with Terrie and felt an immediate kinship. Brianna and I are going to try to stop by the farm as often as possible during the upcoming season and learn as much as we.
Once Saturday rolled around, the entire weekend was dedicated to NorthernGRADE. My business partner and I scrambled to get everything ready for the show and left bright-and-early on Sunday morning to set up. The event was amazing. Everyone was so supportive of each other and of our shared vision of high quality goods made domestically (most of them in Minnesota).
The show had amazing attendance, and by the end of the day nearly 4,000 people had come to browse, shop, and show their support.
My goods friends at Minnesota Leatherworks had an amazing display and sold tons of handmade belts, wallets, key chains, and other leather goods.
Sanborn Canoe Company brought along a number of handcrafted and hand-painted canoe paddles made right here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. There were many other vendors, from those selling cycling apparel to small-batch bitters, and of course, Red Wing Heritage, Filson, Duluth Pack, and Faribault Woolen Mills. We felt honored to be surrounded by so many dedicated and hard-working companies.
We got to show our wares to so many people, all of whom were friendly, interested, and fun to talk to. Everyone seemed to be especially intrigued by our use of vacuum tubes. It didn’t hurt that the new hifi amp sounds especially great (even if I do say so myself). All-in-all, it was an amazing experience, and something I would do again in a heartbeat.
The beginning of this week has mostly consisted of desperately trying to catch back up with all the tasks that got left by the wayside while I was preparing for the show. I’ve had very long days at work and precious little time with friends or loved ones (and even less time to myself). Once I’m all caught-up, I’m going to try to slow down and relax before the next big venture – the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota Annual Conference next weekend.