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  • Kate Egelhof

Dream Green: Thinking Springtime with Harmony Co-op

Let’s get this out of the way just to blow off a little steam: winter is getting old. It feels like it’s just January forever, and not the nice fresh part of January when you’re excited about the new year and you’re still committed to all your resolutions. It feels like a herd of woolly mammoths will be strolling down Irvine Avenue any minute now, or maybe one of those giant beasts Luke Skywalker rode across the ice planet. When it’s not snowing, which it feels like it has done every day for the past six months, it’s face-shattering sinus-aching water-pipes-freezing pray-the-car-starts cold, and the sunny days are the coldest of all which is simply not fair. Everyone is just a little more on edge, a little grouchier, and even the most hardcore winter enthusiasts are starting to droop a little—so here at Harmony Co-op, we’ve decided to dream green. We’re thinking positive, looking forward, and focusing our collective imagination on springtime; from front door to back wall, we’re going to give Mother Nature a little inspiration.

For starters, we put the seeds out. One of the first things you see when you walk into the store is the tall cardboard display of High Mowing garden seeds. It looks a little incongruous since you’re still scraping the slush off your shoes at that point, but this is the time of year when people start their plants from seed indoors. Just looking at the bright packets full of tiny plant embryos, each one ready to sprout and grow as soon as it gets a chance—so much potential new life can’t help but raise the spirits. If you have an apartment or tiny yard, don’t fret—grab some sprouting seeds and one of our sprout jar lids and make yourself a little edible desk garden. For the more ambitious tabletop gardener, we’ve got a home gardening class at the beginning of April: Mark and Peggy Schultz of BackWood Basics, inventors of a brilliant self-watering container gardening system, are returning to the Community Kitchen for a one-night seminar on growing microgreens, and they’ll surely bring some spring vibes with them.

Speaking of home gardening and farming, Harmony’s annual Grower Summit is coming up this month, when all the producers that we work with get invited to the store for a meet-and-greet, a delicious meal, and an informative presentation. This year we’ll be hearing from Ryan Pesch of the University of Minnesota Extension about season extension techniques for northern growers (and what could be more thematically appropriate after our extended winter season). After that we jump right into planning for our Annual Owner Meeting on April 21st –and then there’s Earth Day, and what could be more green than an entire holiday based around cleaning and protecting the planet? We’re always dreaming of ways to be more environmentally friendly whether it be recycling and composting information, earth-friendly cleaning products, or sustainable growth practices.

Our upcoming education classes are dreaming green — besides a St. Patrick’s Day Irish cooking class and Growing Microgreens, there’s Springtime Spring Rolls, a DIY Springtime Skincare night with Rachel Munson, and a class on natural Lyme Disease treatment and prevention with Dr. Diane Pittman of True North Health Care coming up in just the next month. Okay, maybe Lyme Disease isn’t the happiest subject, but it’s necessary—and besides, until the deer ticks evolve tiny fur coats, it’s a springtime and summertime concern. The last class before our summer break will be a homebrewing class on blueberry wine—the concepts of “summer break” and “berry picking” might seem incredibly remote right now, but they’ll be here before we know it!

We’re trying to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. March is National Nutrition Month; so now that Christmas and Valentine’s Day and culturally-approved feasting is finished, it’s a great time to focus on what we put in our bodies—and maybe take a little break from all the comfort food. We may be dreaming green, but we can eat the rainbow—literally, since doctors recommend a variety of fresh fruits and veggies for optimal dietary health. Our winter citrus assortment is still in its full glory, but we’re getting new items in every day. Soon the grapefruits and kumquats will be making way for berries, apples, and eventually homegrown tomatoes (one of the best indicators of summer weather here at Harmony). Our health and wellness section received a recent refresh, too—with new shelving, a new layout, and as always lots of great new products. We’ve got all our protein powders and smoothie mix-ins in one section (including new powdered greens and wheatgrass tablets) and our vitamins are all together; when the cough drops make way for the sunburn cream, you’ll know that spring and summer have made it to the back of the store.

All complaining aside, we really do love winter in Minnesota—we can ski, snowshoe, and ice fish to our hearts’ content. The variety of wildlife is amazing, and the stark white beauty of a still, quiet winter field is something truly special, not to mention the astonishing glory of the northern lights. We get bragging rights over all the country and a reputation as sturdy, resilient folks who voluntarily live where the car manufacturers do their extreme weather testing. Perhaps best of all, we get springtime and summer; we get the anticipation as the days get just a little bit longer every day, the excitement of the first brave crocus stems that breach the snowbank, and the bright relief we feel when we step outside and realize that we can hear birdsong. We get our entire Facebook feed filling up with robin pictures (being a springtime bird in northern Minnesota must be like being a movie star chased by paparazzi); we get the mud puddles and road washouts, too, but it’s a nice change from ice sheets and snowbanks. Fishing opener is only a couple of months away; where right now there are tire tracks and snow across Lake Bemidji, soon enough there’ll be boat wakes. It’ll be bright sunshine from early morning to late evening, and our pale, dry winter skin will soon be coated in sunscreen and bug repellent. We’re not quite there yet, but we will be before we know it—and until then, we invite you to join us in thinking positive, keeping sane, and dreaming green!

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