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Renewing the Countryside

Renewing the Countryside

Renewing the Countryside

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Event Details

Farmer / Chef "Speed Dating"

FARMERS: Do you want to expand your market into restaurants, cafes, food services, institutions and distributors?

BUYERS: Are you interested in making new connections to purchase local products from farmers, producers and distributors?

“Even in this down economy, we’ve had our best summer ever and it is due in large part to the connections we made at the Lanesboro got local? event. By really promoting the local foods right around Lanesboro we have drawn in new patrons who are interested in healthy food and how it was raised.”
    Thank you,
    Angie and Scott Taylor
    Pedal Pushers Cafe

“I must say, it was a day well spent out of the office.  Sometimes we spend a day going to a workshop and at the end of the day we say "should have stayed in the office."  I have been wanting to start a farm to school project for a couple of years, but never could make the right connections..........well the day gave me the right connections and now my farm to school project is a reality”
    Tina Wheeler, SNS
    Director of Food Service
    Little Falls Community Schools #482

Lucias Restaurant is now one of our best accounts for purchase of grass-fed beef. Lori Valenziano is the Chef I met at the last two events and the relationship is working out wonderfully. The Campus Club at the U of M is a similar story.  Ann Holt and Beth Jones attended two of the events and we are supplying the Campus Club on a regular basis. The St. Paul College, Sean Jones, is a current customer as a result of the most recent Farmer/Chef event.
    Mike Stine,
    Owner, StoneBridge Beef,
    Long Prairie, MN  

Renewing the Countryside with support from the Sustainable Farming Association will be hosting at least six Farmer/Buyer Connection workshops. The workshops will have information sessions to assist farmers and food buyers to connect and explore best practices in working together, followed by the networking opportunity—a chance to forge new relationships for the upcoming growing season!

There are over 700 producers in Minnesota who directly market to consumers through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture-sponsored “Minnesota Grown” directory.  By strategically distributing 6 workshops geographically across Minnesota over a twenty-six month period, we are providing the greatest possible access with at least one workshop within a reasonable morning travel distance of all but the states most remote northern areas.  The locations are also targeted at connecting rural specialty crop producers with food buyers both in their immediate communities, but also with those from regional hub markets, including urban hubs in neighboring states (like Fargo, Sioux Falls, and La Crosse) that import agricultural products from Minnesota.  Over the course of the project, we include 2 workshops in the Twin Cities metro region, and 4 workshops in greater Minnesota communities. 

Sites selected for the workshops include 4 communities where Renewing the Countryside has hosted farmer-buyer networking workshops before (Northeast, Southeast, and the Twin Cities), and also brings the successful workshop model to 2 new rural communities (South Central and Northwest).  Sites were selected based on their concentration of small to mid-sized specialty crop producers as well as their proximity to hub markets.

Each workshop has the capacity to host up to 150 participants (farmers and producers), and in the past they have attracted over 80 participants in the Twin Cities and over 50 participants in greater Minnesota.  The content and activities are relevant to a wide variety of specialty crop producers, and the broader the variety of producers, the more valuable workshops are for buyers.  Introducing a greater diversity of minority and immigrant farmers we also expect will lead to a greater diversity of specialty crops available to buyers at each event, and this will be a major focus of outreach efforts leading up to all workshops, especially those in the Twin Cities metro region. 

The feedback we have received from past events has been very positive, and on several occasions we have learned of new long-term business relationships developing between producers and buyers at the events. Three School Districts have told us that they started their Farm to School programs as a result of attending one of these workshops. These connections have a significant economic impact for the farmers and their rural communities by making small and mid-sized operations more financially viable, but they also support the shift in consumer tastes towards greater consumption of locally and sustainably grown products.

If you are a farmer interested in getting your product into a restaurant, grocery store or institution (school, hospital, etc.), a food buyer for a restaurant or other institution, or someone working in food systems and would like more information on the got local? series of workshops, please call 612.871.1541 or e-mail Brett at

If you sign up now, we will make sure to notify you when we have a the schedule set.

Select "Reminder" from the ticket sales options and make sure you include your email address.

Have questions about Renewing the Countryside? Contact Renewing the Countryside


Renewing the Countryside

Renewing the Countryside builds awareness, support, and resources for farmers, artists, activists, entrepreneurs, educators, and others whose work is helping create healthy, diverse, and sustainable rural communities.

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