Mission: Renewing the countryside strengthens rural areas by championing and supporting rural communities, farmers, artists, entrepreneurs, educators, activists and other people who are renewing the countryside through sustainable and innovative initiatives, businesses, and projects. We do this by sharing stories of rural renewal, building awareness and support for sustainable endeavors, connecting people interested in sustainable rural development to each other, providing practical assistance and networking opportunities for those working to improve rural america, and fostering connections between urban and rural people.
Programs: Local food systems:1) rtc offered individualized technical assistance to specialty crop farmers and food service institutions who are incorporating local foods, including mentorships to food buying institutions to help them increase their sourcing of locally grown foods. 2) continued participation on the local foods advisory committee which addresses issues at the intersection of local/regional food systems and regulatory systems. 3) reconvened the slow money minnesota network, bringing together about 60 leaders and creative thinkers representing diverse sectors of the finance, food and agriculture system with the goal of accelerating change towards a stronger local foods economy in minnesota. 4) co-hosted the two-day feast local food festival in rochester featuring about 100 local food exhibitors. Day one was an industry-only tradeshow which brought in wholesale buyers. Day two was a public festival and drew a crowd of approximately 1,600 attendees. 5) assisted with the feast smart start program, part of the feast local food network, to provide technical assistance and coaching to more than a dozen local-food businesses in southern minnesota. 6) coordinated the healthy local foods exhibit at the minnesota state fair's eco experience. This exhibit featured organizations working with food systems issues, local food samples, cooking demos, educational games, photography, and a wide array of information. Estimates were that 278,000 people visited the eco experience building. Over 150 volunteers contributed over 1000 hours of time to the healthy local foods exhibit. 7) worked with state agencies and local organizations on developing improved understanding and working relationships between regulators and local food businesses, including farms. 9) continued to work to support rtcs farm-to-childcare curriculum which reached project reached 1200+ child care providers and 400+ children through related training, and educational opportunities. We also offered technical assistance to some institutional child-care providers looking to incorporate farm to childcare practices. We participated on state the farm-to-school leadership committee to provide support for schools, organizations and state efforts addressing childhood nutrition and access to local food at school.
sustainable farming systems:1) rtc coordinated educational and networking activities for beginning farmers at the 2017 moses organic farming conference and helped plan two stand-alone new farmer u conferences in iowa and illinois. 2) formed the farmland access hub, a network of organizations to work collaboratively on issues of rural land ownership, farm transitions, and farmland access for beginning farmers. 3) conducted several land access literacy training to help prepare beginning farmers for the process of acquiring land. We also provided individualized technical assistance to beginning farmers seeking land. 4) hosted events that featured a public discussion of issues related to farm-transitions alongside with a similarly themed play. 5) created and moderated the farm transitions email discussion with nearly 200 subscribers and nearly 100 active threads.
conservation:1) rtc continued educational programming for women farmland owners, conducting workshops on soil health land, conservation in minnesota. 2) conducted outreach to women landowners in minnesota and wisconsin with the goal of connecting them with farm service agency conservation programs. 3) we produced and distributed a free, printed and electronic newsletter for conservation issues facing women in agriculture.