A food forest combines trees, shrubs, vines, perennials and self-seeding annuals to provide edible fruits and nuts. Rather than individually maintained parcels, the entire food forest is open to the public for harvest. The idea is to create an ecosystem that protects the soil, provides healthy foods, and requires minimal labor to be productive.
Consumer interest in experiencing closer connections to their food is contributing to a growth in agritourism offerings in Minnesota. Events like the Central RSDP-supported Salsa Fest provide opportunities to connect with growers and makers of value-added products such as salsa.
How do I store fresh asparagus? Why has my avocado shipment gone gray? When are my watermelon beyond saleable? These are questions that owners of small, rural grocery stores may ask when facing the challenges of increased customer demands for a wide variety of fresh, local produce.
Today, Sean Yang is a board member for the University of Minnesota Extension Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (RSDP), a council member for the City of Walnut Grove, an active volunteer with the Economic Development Administration, a volunteer for the elderly, and a loving husband and father. However, he didn’t start that way.
In his bestselling book Last Child in the Woods (2008), author Richard Louv spotlighted a phenomenon he called "nature-deficit disorder." Co-founder of the Children & Nature Network, Louv maintains that exposure to our natural world is integral to healthy childhood development and emotional and physical well-being. As Louv writes, "a growing body of research links our mental, physical, and spiritual health directly to our association with nature - in positive ways," yet at the same time children are spending less time in their natural surroundings.