Tour produces a Local flavor

LANESBORO — An upcoming tour in Fillmore County will highlight local food and some of the people who produce it.

A Farm & Garden Tour organized by Lanesboro Local Inc. , will be held Saturday with six sites welcoming visitors and sharing details about their agri-businesses. The tour is a fundraiser for Lanesboro Local, a nonprofit started by volunteers in 2009 to promote and support growers, producers and artisans offering local foods and goods to consumers.

Three of the destinations on the tour — a farm that has grass-fed cattle and an orchard with a wind turbine on site, an 80-acre certified organic farm growing fruits and vegetables and a lefse-making operation — are in the Rushford area.

The other three — a meat-processing facility with a USDA-inspected smokehouse, a dairy farm with a milk-bottling plant and a farm with pasture-raised animals including cows, hens and turkeys — are in the Chatfield area. Those attending the tour may visit some or all of the venues.

Kitty Baker, who serves on the board for Lanesboro Local, said the sites featured on the tour are successful and "established enough with a story to tell."


Lanesboro Local, which has more than 140 members, is exploring ways to expand the availability of and interest in local foods.

"What we’re doing is our own version of what a lot of places are doing," Baker said.

It has a retail store, Lanesboro Local Marketplace, at 207 Parkway Ave. N. in Lanesboro where producers can bring their milk, eggs, butter, cheese, greens and other locally grown foods to sell. The store fills a void left when the last grocery store in town closed in 2008, Baker said.

The nonprofit is also beginning an informal mentorship program to work with people interested in producing packaged foods such as bread, pickles and jellies. The program will assist them in testing their products in the local market and guide them through the licensing process.

"It helps them move beyond the farmers market when they’re ready," Baker said.

The long-term goal for Lanesboro Local is to have more small-scale food producers able to thrive, something that would help the area’s tourism industry and the economy and health of local communities, she said. That vision reminds Baker of pictures taken in the late 1800s of Lanesboro as a bustling community.

"Lanesboro Local would like to see that vibrancy return to the countryside here," she said.

Establishing a local foods movement is a slow process and it takes commitment, she said. "It’s just amazing to me how much people are willing to learn and keep at it to become successful food producers."

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