Another Trip Around Our Sun

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
Andy Warhol

2016 is fast approaching, and I managed to make it almost all the way through 2015 without writing a single post. This was not due to a lack of things to write about. 2015 was one of the more eventful years of my life. Using the excuse that I was ‘busy’ seems silly at this point though, so instead I’ll go with the idea that it’s much easier to make day-to-day updates on other social platforms and leave these long-form posts for deeper reflections.

Trying to summarize the past year feels nearly impossible. 2015 started with my wife, Brianna, and I freshly married and living in our small house in Minneapolis. We were spending most of our free time with our band and working on music. In February, we finally went on our honeymoon, spending 10 days in a roof-top apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Summer in San Telmo, BA

Going from a frigid Minnesota winter to a (very) hot Argentinian summer was bewildering and amazing. We did our best to enjoy all the food, wine, art, music, and history Buenos Aires had to offer. We had a blast, and discovered some amazing new foods, wines, and artists.

During the rest of the spring, we played a lot of shows with the band, explored even more restaurants and bars in Minneapolis, and generally had a good time. I also spent a lot of time working on a long-form ambient composition that ended up being called “Oxide Memories.” I pulled in a number of talented musicians to help me work on it, and it launched me in a new music direction. I built a new website for my musical endeavors, and dove headlong into the world of tape loops, analog multi-tracking, audio processing, and minimalist ambient music.

In May, we adopted a puppy that needed a home. Her name is Loki, and she and her siblings were found in a dumpster in Mexico. Now she leads a life that alternates between adventure and leisure (mostly the latter).


To say she’s precocious would be an understatement

With a new puppy to train (and play with), we filled up just about all of our time. Unfortunately, only a few months after getting our new pup, the company Brianna was working for unexpectedly laid-off most of its employees. This left us in a strange spot. Brianna was having trouble finding a new position, and we were both longing for a big change. Half jokingly, Brianna suggested that we move to the east coast, perhaps renting my family’s vacation home on Nantucket island. I was all for the idea, and soon I had made arrangements with my family. Brianna found a job on the island (I work remotely), and all of a sudden we decided to move halfway across the country to a island 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. After a three-day drive and a two-hour ferry, we made it to our new home.

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Our tiny island

Nantucket is a strange island. In the summer, it becomes the vacation spot of the rich and famous – the population swells to 80,000 and the tiny streets are crowded. The massive mansions by the beaches are full, and all the restaurants and boutiques are bustling. For those who live on the island year-round though, it’s a different story. During the winter, the population drops to around 10,000 and most of the restaurants and stores close down. The locals are just like the locals of any other small town, with most of them employed as construction workers, teachers, small shop owners, and commercial fishermen. During the colder months, the island is full of empty mansions and shuttered restaurants.

The island itself is beautiful though. Due to a huge conservation effort, at least a third of the landmass is protected and open to the public as wildlife preserves (around 14,000 acres total). This means there are hidden trails all over the island to explore, and the terrain is wildly varied, from desert-like expanses to thick wooded forests. This island has nearly everything.

magic places.jpg

A few magical spots

In addition to the scenery being rustic, it’s also a forager’s dream come true. I’ve found many edible mushrooms, wild hazelnuts, wild grapes (innumerable), various different berries, sea vegetables, and of course, countless types of seafood. It’s amazing to be able to walk to the beach, throw a hook into the waves and pull out a fish. It’s equally incredible to be able to dig clams and scallops whenever I care to.


The first (and smallest) of many hauls of shellfish

Since moving here, we’ve made jelly from wild grapes, beach plums, and autumn olives, as well as fresh cranberry sauce, lots of clam chowder, grilled fish, and scallops prepared many ways. In addition to the wild caught and foraged foods, there are a handful of farms on the island where we can buy fresh vegetables and eggs, and more than a few great fish mongers where we can get the best cod, flounder, striped bass, red snapper, and lobster that the ocean can offer. Lobster is cheaper here than chicken.

As the year comes to a close, I’m realizing just how much has changed. I’m also thinking about the goals I had when I started this blog. Here’s how I stack up now (in reverse order):

1. Expression
While I no longer play out regularly with a band, and no longer co-write pop songs, I do spend a lot of time thinking about and working on music. I’m currently working to improve my compositional skills and actively working on an album of minimalist themes. I’m also reading more than ever and regularly taking pictures (even if they’re just camera-phone pictures). I feel like I’m on a good path with my creative endeavors.

1. Health
Living on an island so full of trails to explore while raising a puppy means doing a lot of walking, which is great. I do more walking now than I probably ever have in my life. It feels great to spend so much time in the outdoors. Ultimately, that isn’t enough physical activity though, and I still spend most of my day sitting. This next year I’m going to have to make a strong effort to get in shape before I hit my mid-30’s and it gets even harder. Eating healthy will remain a priority, as will maintaining my and my wife’s happiness. Being married means “being a better husband” will now always make an appearance on my new years’ resolutions.

1. Lifestyle
I’m succeeding here more than ever before. I’m doing more hiking and foraging now, and we’ve managed to buy a good deal of our groceries from local farms. I always wish I could do more though. One of the problems with living on an island is that beef, chicken, and pork all have to be brought over from the mainland, as do so many of our “usual” grocery items. I see this as amazing practice, and wherever we end up in the coming years, I know all the knowledge I’m gathering will help me to live as close to nature as I can.

1. Job
I’m no longer in a cubicle, and that alone is a major achievement in my book. I work from home, and have put together a comfortable office/studio to work in. My job still has its share of frustrations and I’m still working out what I want to be doing in 5 or 10 years, but at least I’m not in a cubicle. It’s too bad I can’t get paid to hike, fish, forage, and make music.

I’ll try to post again next year, maybe even sooner, who knows. For now, I’m just going to welcome 2016 with open arms.


In Like A Lion

Nobody knows what anticipation is anymore. Everything is so immediate.”
Joan Jett

March may be here and it definitely came in like a lion, but the lion doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. This winter has been eye-opening. In the nearly ten years since I moved to Minnesota, this has been the coldest, snowiest winter yet. And since I moved to Minnesota from the relatively balmy east coast, it should go without saying that this was the coldest, snowiest winter of my life. I don’t want to harp on this point too much, but it has been a big factor in my day-to-day life. I’ll stick with two points of proof: 1) In mid-January we experienced multiple days where the temps dipped below -20° F (-29° C). Add wind-chill into the picture, and we saw temps as low as -53° F (-47° C). That’s colder than the same days in Alaska and some parts of the Arctic. There were even reports that is was colder than parts of Mars. 2) At this point in March, we’ve had over 62″ of cumulative snowfall (>157cm)…and it will snow again before the winter is over. The point here is that it has been cold and everything is buried in snow. Winters here are usually long, but this one feels like it doesn’t want to let go. Constant cold and snow for five or six months can get to anyone.

Despite all of this, there’s an up-side. When the spring is finally in view (winter here usually doesn’t end until late April/early-May). Everyone gets a crazed, gleeful look in their eye. People practically start skipping, and laughing comes easily. When we have a relatively warm (40° F) day, people get out their shorts and t-shirts and strut around outside like it’s a national holiday. The excitement is infectious and spring/early-summer can feel like a weeks-long runner’s high. Along with the excitement comes the motivation to clean up after months of basically being locked indoors. People start home improvement projects, plan their garden, start walking/biking/running/swimming, and generally run around like do-gooders on amphetamines. The key to all of this is the antici…….pation.

In our 24-hour-access-mobile-ready-instant-view-click-here world, we rarely experience true anticipation anymore. The kind of anticipation where you want something, and it takes forever to get it. The kind where  you almost give up and think you’ll never get it. The kind where when  you finally get what you want, you are truly and deeply grateful for it. In the northern-middle of this giant continent, we are afforded a great deal of anticipation every year, and I’m grateful for it. It’s in the throes of this great anticipation that I start on my own springtime projects. One of the ones I enjoy the most is planning my garden. My maternal grandparents were avid gardeners, and I always enjoyed helping my grandfather out with his garden when I was little. I have never seen a man so proud of his tomatoes (aside from myself of course). This year is my first chance to plan and plant the garden in my new house, and I’m going big.


These colorful packages are like candy for the soul.

I started the first round of seeds indoors under a grow-light today. I tried to pick some interesting varieties, and still grow all the things I love to eat. I got most of my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, which I highly recommend. I also got some from Seed Savers Exchange, which is another great company. They’re like a giant swap-meet organization for farmers with rare and interesting seeds. Take a look through their digital catalog and have your mind blown by the sheer variety of vegetables and herbs that exist on this earth. I was even excited enough to put together this chart (only applicable to MN and similar climates):

March April May June
Celeriac Indoor Outdoor
Celery Indoor Outdoor
Chili Pepper Indoor Outdoor
Kale Indoor Outdoor
Leek Indoor Outdoor
Lettuce Indoor Outdoor
Onion Indoor Outdoor
Parsley Indoor Outdoor
Sage Indoor Outdoor
Tomato Indoor Outdoor
Arugula Outdoor
Beets Outdoor
Carrots Outdoor
Cilantro Indoor Outdoor
Cucumber Indoor Outdoor
Dill Outdoor
Fennel Indoor Outdoor
Oregano Indoor Outdoor
Strawberry Outdoor
Swiss Chard Indoor Outdoor
Basil Indoor Outdoor
Corn Outdoor
Mint Outdoor
Rosemary Outdoor
Summer Squash Outdoor
Winter Squash Indoor Outdoor
Thyme Outdoor
Zucchini Outdoor
Pole Beans Indoor Outdoor
Lima Beans Outdoor

Although, a lot of these dates are going to be pushed back somewhat due to the temperatures and the amount of snow still on the ground. In any case, it was great to think about being outdoors and digging in the dirt. Even just the aroma of the celery, parsley, and tomato seeds put a big grin on my face. It’s still a few months before the winter will feel like something I can talk about in the past-tense, but for now, I’m basking in the anticipation.

A New Year: A Retro-Anterospective

Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.”
Thomas Edison

Last year I started this blog on New Year’s Day. I started it out of boredom and frustration. I started it out of a sense of yearning that I needed to qualify and validate. The results were not what I expected.

I aimed to make some changes to my life, to improve the situation I found myself in, and to grow as a person. I broke this broad idea down into four areas:

1) Job
At the beginning of the year last year, I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. Partly due to this blog and partly due to the steam I built up within myself, I got up the courage to seek employment elsewhere. I got a new job, and in fact will be starting yet another job before the end of the month. Lesson learned? Loyalty is important, but not at the expense of personal happiness. Also, don’t get too comfortable, ever. Do I have the perfect job now? No, but it’s a hell of  a lot closer, and will be a great place to be for a while.

2) Lifestyle
This one was a little more nebulous. I felt that I wasn’t participating enough with the natural world around me. I still feel that way to some degree, but I did manage to make big strides over the last year. I committed myself to going hunting several times in order to make the source of my protein more personal, I joined the Sustainable Farming Association to meet the people growing my food, and I learned how to do things like make sausages and preserve my own vegetables to become more self-sufficient. I also helped out on a farm, volunteered at the Minnesota Garlic Festival, and learned how to forage a dozen varieties of wild greens and mushrooms. While I still have a long way to go, I made good progress.

3) Health
I admit that this was the category that suffered the most.  This year was so busy with work and the activities listed above (not to mention getting engaged, buying a house, turning 30, starting a new job, starting a band, recording an album, etc, etc) that I didn’t take the time I should have to work out and get into better shape. Mentally I’m in a much better place that I was a year ago, but there’s always room for improvement. Maybe 2014 is my year to get in shape.

4) Expression
This one was hit-or-miss. My intention was to work on music, photography, and writing as much as possible. As I just mentioned, my friends (and fiancee) and I started a band at the beginning of the year. We played a bunch of live shows, recorded our first EP, did some radio interviews, and got a lot of good press. It’s been a blast, and we’re looking forward to working on our first full-length album this year and continuing to perform. The music part of these resolutions gets a strong check. As for photography and writing…well, I’ve never been very good at multitasking. I attempted to post every day at the beginning of last year. Looking back, that was insane. This year I’ll shoot for once a month – if I have something interesting to write about.  I’ll try to take some more pictures too.


It’s nice to be able to look back and see the progress I’ve made. I didn’t exactly accomplish my goals, but I didn’t fail either. Life is never neat enough to fit into those kinds of boxes. This year I’m not going to make any new rules. Instead I’m going to try to continue on the trajectory that I started myself on last year. I’m going to continue working and fighting to be the person I want to be even as I figure out what that is. I hope everyone else out there does too.

Fireworks and Food Experiments

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
Hellen Keller

I usually lay low for the infamous American holiday The 4th of July (Independence Day). It’s not that I lack patriotism, it’s more that after spending a lot of my childhood living abroad, I feel a sense of patriotism for a United States that’s rarely on display during the hamburger-grilling-bud-light-guzzling-giant-fireworks-lighting-extravaganza that is the 4th of July. The USA that I hold dear is the America of ingenuity, acceptance, exploration, and tenacity (think late 19th century). It’s a country to be proud of. We attracted inventors from around the world (Alexander Graham Bell, Guglielmo Marconi, Nikola Tesla, etc), we revolutionized the way the world worked, and developed systems of government and worker’s rights that became models for the world (we’re pretty lacking in those areas now). In any case, the modern-day US doesn’t quite inspire me in the same way.

Despite my lack of festive mood, my lovely fiance convinced me to go camping with her in  Saint Croix State Park. As I’ve stated many times, I love the outdoors, so it was a no-brainer.  I had never been “car camping” before, only backpacking, so it would be a new experience for me. We set off with high hopes.


Sorry for the poor quality of the photo – there was a bear looking at me and I found it hard to compose a good picture.

On our first jaunt into the woods, we made it about 100ft before being eaten alive by misquotes, applying DEET (and subsequently inhaling it), and running into a bear. Not a good sign. We headed back to the campsite and decided to relax before dinner. Unfortunately the campsites were within spitting-distance of each other and the whole park was packed to the gills with a lot of the ‘mericans we were looking to avoid.  We found time to celebrate anyway.

4th of July

My fiance saving the day with her cheer.

We stayed the night – barely got any sleep and after doing a little fishing the next day, decided to pack it in. Sometimes it’s good to know when to quit. On the other hand, I had a pretty good time despite everything, and we even saw a Prairie Chicken which I had never seen wild before. They’re supposed to be delicious.

Speaking of delicious, I finally got around to trying a non-traditional food that I’ve been meaning to try for a long time now: daylilies.


We had plenty to spare. Why not eat some of them?

I first read about daylilies being edible in an old copy of the Peterson Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants that I’ve had since I was about 10 years old. I couldn’t quite work up the courage to eat them though until I read a post about them on Hank Shaw’s incredible blog. I had a whole backyard full of them, and now they seemed to be taunting me. It was time to dig in.

Buds and Tubers

Buds and tubers from a Common Daylily

Now before I go any further, I want to quickly say that some forms of lilies (such as Asiatic Lilies and Lilies of the Valley) are not only inedible, they’re poisonous. If you want to eat some lilies, make sure they’re Common Daylilies. They’re really easy to tell apart, but I’ll leave that up to you and absolve myself of any and all personal responsibility.

Ok, so, what did I do with them? I uprooted a medium-sized one and cut and washed both the flower buds and the tubers. I decided to start with the buds first – after removing the stems from the buds (they still have stems in the picture), I wilted them in some butter and sprinkled them with salt. They were delicious. I’m serious. I don’t know why these aren’t a staple in gourmet cooking. They’re similar to zucchini blossoms in flavor, but honestly, I like them even more. First chance I get, I’m going to make a spin on the classic Roman Fiori Di Zucchine Fritti – zucchini blossoms stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies, lightly breaded and deep-fried. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I tried the tubers next, and gave them a similar treatment. After trimming off the roots and “stems,” I halved them and quickly fried them in some butter, with a sprinkle of salt. They were really interesting. Imagine a fingerling potato crossed with a sunchoke, but fresher tasting. They remained fairly crisp after cooking and had an incredible “raw potato” flavor (in a good way). I think they would be an amazing candidate for roasting or serving in a breakfast hash. They weren’t quite as amazing as the blossoms, but still very usable.

I’m amazed when I discover new foods that seem to have been forgotten by the agricultural machine. These are easy to grow, prolific, and delicious. I’ll be sure to plant daylilies in every garden I ever tend (even if it’s just for the amazing blossoms). Oh, one last thing. Apparently something like 5% of the population has a very negative reaction (upset stomach and the “runs”) to daylilies. As with any new food, try a small amount first, and see how your body reacts.

A New Heading

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
Lao Tsu

The last four months have been a whirlwind. I am now engaged to an incredible woman, searching for a new house, preparing for a new job, and working on a successful musical project. During the intervening months I have turned 30 years old, traveled thousands of miles by car, dabbled in charcuterie, and foraged and prepared a number of wild foods. While I still have a long way to go on my journey towards metaphysical satiation, I now have an official partner, and a little more direction.

This past spring my then-girlfriend and I set out on a road trip to and from St Stephen, NB, Canada for the wedding of her best friend. Along the way we stopped in OH, PA, NY, CT, ME, NH, MI, and WI. We drove though major metropolitan areas (Chicago, New York, Boston), numerous small towns (especially fun were Clarion, PA, Bridgewater, CT, and Eastport, ME), and a number of medium-sized cities (ranging from the awful (Toledo, OH and Utica, NY) to the awesome (Portland, ME, Syracuse, NY, Niagara Falls (Canada), and Kalamazoo, MI, ). All-in-all, we drove over 3,500 miles.

A map of the trip

Dancing with the Great Lakes

I proposed to my girlfriend halfway through our trip, in New Brunswick, Canada. After an amazing meal at The Rossmount Inn, we drove along the coast of the Bay of Fundy, home to the world’s greatest tidal range, and stopped at a spot affectionately known as ‘The Peninsula.’ It was low tide, which allowed us to walk out to what is only an island during anything but low tide. There, under a rising moon, I asked her to marry me.

Proposal aside, we spent a lot of time exploring and discussing farm-to-table food throughout the east half of our country. We were pleasantly surprised by a number of fantastic venues and restaurants. In New York we met with my father and sister at the Gentleman Farmer in the Lower East Side. In Connecticut my mother brought us to an incredible CSA farm called The Garden of Ideas that focused as much on feeding one’s psyche as it did one’s stomach. In New Brunswick, The Rossmount Inn served expertly prepared seasonal and foraged meats and produce. In Portland, ME we had a fantastic lunch at The North Point (charcuterie stuffed flatbread!).

One of the most magical places was a farm market that appeared like an oasis along the side of the road while we were driving through New Hampshire. As I was dreamily staring out the passenger window, we drove right by it and I instantly shouted, “LOOK! Did you see that?!” My newly minted fiancée stopped and turned the car around without a moment’s hesitation. We ended up eating a snack/lunch of homemade pickles and delicious rhubarb soda outside of the amazing Winter Hill Farm Store.

As idyllic as any location could hope to be.

As idyllic as any location could hope to be.

In Syracuse, NY we stopped in at the Empire Brewing Company for some locally sourced food and great beer. In Kalamazoo, MI, we decided to prepare our own meal, and picked up some great food (including some delicious ramps!) at the People’s Food Co-op after drinking our fill of mind-blowingly delicious beer at the Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Cafe. In the end, we ate pretty damn well for being on the road. There truly is a food revolution happening in America, and I welcome it with an open mouth.

Since we’ve been back, I’ve had the opportunity to go foraging for some delicious morels and ramps (thanks to my soon to be brother-in-law), and have been able to find many different kinds of foraged greens at the wonderful Mill City Farmer’s Market. I’m looking forward to hunting more mushrooms in the late summer, and going back out in pursuit of rabbits when the weather starts to cool off again.

In the meantime, all I have to do is plan a wedding, buy a house, start a new job, record an album, and cure some bacon. Easy.

Balance and Acceptance

Work, love and play are the great balance wheels of man’s being”
Orison Swett Marden

There’s a reason so many philosophies, from Taoism to pre-socratic Anaximanderian ideals focus on the idea of balance. Everyone has experienced the chaos of being out of balance, and the magic of occasionally finding it. Like most people, I strive for balance, but rarely get the equation just right.

In the last few weeks I’ve managed to make myself incredibly busy – too busy. So much so that I’ve barely had the time to reflect on any of it. I’ve been working with three different bands (playing three different instruments), I celebrated Valentine’s Day with my girlfriend, I went to the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota’s annual conference, went on another hunt, and succeeded in injuring my back. I made the mistake of over-scheduling myself and didn’t leave enough time to write, reflect, and contemplate. My back injury, a herniated disc, was predominantly stress-induced. Luckily it’s not too bad (nothing compared to broken ribs), and should heal quickly.

I’m hoping to use the next week to slowly unpack everything I’ve been doing and re-establish some balance. For no reason other than it feeling right, I’ll start in reverse chronological order.

This morning I left to go on a hunt  – it’s the last weekend of the small game season and was my last chance to bag a squirrel or rabbit until next season. I got on the road a little later than I had hoped and arrived at the Wilderness Management Area about an hour after sunrise. I went to a different location than last time, but one in the same area.

Hunt Morning

There’s something about the snow covered prairies of southern Minnesota in the morning sunlight.

There was a fresh snowfall last night and I found myself tromping through almost a foot of soft snow. I immediately wished I had a good set of snow shoes. Just like last time, there were animal tracks and droppings everywhere. I crossed the fields and made way for the forrest, through which I knew would be my best opportunity for a free meal.

The snow clung to the trees like so much Christmas icing.

The snow clung to the trees like so much Christmas icing.

As I made my way though the woods, I heard dozens of birds. It felt as if the forrest was alive with activity. It seemed like my hunch was spot-on. This hunch was based on satellite images and rumor.  A little further through the woods there should be an abandoned corn field – one left unharvested as a “feed lot” for wild animals.

As I emerged from the woods, I saw exactly what I was hoping to see – about an acre of corn, dried on the stalk. Exactly what every savvy squirrel, rabbit, deer, and bird would want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There were comically overweight birds lazily roosting on top of corn stalks, and many more swooping and playing overhead. A more perfect hunting location does not exist.

A field full of corn, and plenty of fat little birds to go with it.

A field full of corn, and plenty of fat little birds to go with it.

Almost immediately I saw two fat squirrels playing about 100 yards away in the corn. I excitedly drew my rifle and began to slowly stalk them. Unfortunately, as fat as they were, they were still a lot faster than me, and never gave me the chance for a clean shot. No problem I thought, there will be plenty of opportunities here.

I decided to make my way through the middle of the corn, figuring that I might scare-up some rabbits. That’s when I found out how strange and unnerving a field of corn in the middle of a forest can be. As I walked through the neck-high plants, the wind would cause them to rustle and rub against each other. It was as if the entire field was hissing and growling at me. All the while I could only see the ground directly in front and behind my feet. This is the stuff horror movies are made of. After not seeing any rodents, and being a little worried that I might be mauled by a reanimated scarecrow or monstrous beast,  I decided to stay on the outskirts of the field.

I walked around the plot many times, winding in and out of the surrounding woods, and kept my eyes and ears peeled. At one point a giant wild turkey descended from an overhead branch and nearly gave me a heart attack. Once I realized what it was, I only wished I had the right license and tool to dispatch it and take it home. I saw a handful of other squirrels darting about in various directions, but they never bothered to stop and let me have a shot – even when I used the “squirrel call” that I bought on a whim.

After about five hours out in the February air, and with my back starting to protest, I decided this wasn’t my year and packed it in. I have accepted that I will have no rabbit or squirrel to enjoy this winter, and I have no regrets. I will happily go back out again next season. In the meantime, I’m going to try to pay a little more attention to squirrel and rabbit behavior and learn as much as I can.

I’ll leave the SFA-MN conference, Valentine’s Day, and my various musical endeavors for another time – once I have a little more balance restored.

Busy Being Born

He not busy being born is busy dying.”
Bob Dylan

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).

It was quite the venue - the James J Hill Reference Library in St Paul

It was quite the venue – the James J Hill Reference Library in St Paul

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.

Minnesota Leatherworks - Pure Class

Minnesota Leatherworks – Pure Class

My goods friends at Minnesota Leatherworks had an amazing display and sold tons of handmade belts, wallets, key chains, and other leather goods.

Handcrafted canoe paddles by the Sanborn Canoe Company

Handcrafted canoe paddles by the Sanborn Canoe Company

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.

Our little corner of the world.

Our little corner of the world.

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.