Dream Green with Harmony Co-op
Updated: Mar 15
Here in northern Minnesota, we're used to being a little optimistic as far as the weather is concerned. We have a lot of winter, after all - we're famous for it! We plug our cars in at night and keep shovels and blankets in the back just in case; we know wool socks are warmer than cotton and that layering keeps in body heat. When the lakes freeze over and the geese fly away, we drive across the frozen surfaces and fish through holes we cut in the ice. We know the first blast of warm weather and snowmelt is invariably too good to be true, so we don't put the winter coats away yet - but it feels so good that we still take off our jackets. While the rest of the hemisphere is tinted a little more green each day by spring's advance, the Northwoods is still dreaming of green under our frosty white winter blankets. We can prep and plan our gardens (and even start some plants!), learn and practice sustainable habits, and get ready for the short yet intensely beautiful spring and summer months.
One of the first signs of spring here at Harmony is the seed display up front, and we’re all very excited to see the High Mowing display arrive! Starting seeds indoors can be done no matter what the weather outside, and you can also try smaller window or kitchen herb gardens with some varieties. We’re in planting zone 3b; planting zones, developed by the USDA, help farmers and growers decide when to start which plants depending on the climate and plant hardiness. While we might think it’s too early, it’s actually a great time to think about starting some of the hardier varieties!
Our education department is dreaming green, too! We've been offering classes on Zoom for the past year as we've been unable to meet in person, and we've had so much fun cooking, creating, and crafting from the comfort of our own homes. Local organic farmers Jill Pederson and Randy Olson of Merry Gardens Farm in Bagley will be presenting a "Gardening Basics" virtual class on Thursday, March 25th at 5:30 pm; if you weren't excited for springtime and planting before, you definitely will be after this! We've also got a sustainable living class with Aili Kultala coming up in early April, starting Earth Day month off appropriately (and getting us even more excited for the growing season).
We're dreaming green just thinking about the future harvest and all the bounty our wonderful local growers provide us. From Clearwater Produce veggies to Vibrant Farm microgreens, Bar Bell Bee Ranch honey and Maple Island maple syrup, Harmony is blessed with a wonderful assortment of local growers, farmers, and providers. Bramble Bee Bread is another great example, as you literally can't get more local than Roger Bramble's sourdough - he bakes it in our Community Kitchen!
Local food is:
better for the environment. It makes sense—products that aren’t shipped as far don’t take so much fuel.
better-tasting. Produce that doesn’t travel far can be picked close enough to the point of ripeness that it’s perfectly ready right when you need it. That means the fruits and veggies can get ready the way they’re supposed to—on the vine, in the sun and fresh air! If you’ve ever bought a big box chain store tomato out of season, you’ll know the flavor isn’t nearly comparable; that’s because the fruits are picked when still green and ripen on the way in climate-controlled bins. You’d feel sad and stale too!
Local food is better for the community because it is the community! These are our friends and neighbors, literally. For every dollar spent at the co-op, a thousand dollars goes back into the community. We pay our farmers for their produce, they can pay their bills and employees and suppliers who can then do the same, and that money will recirculate throughout the local economy.
We also proudly carry a selection of local goods from Red Lake Nation Foods - including pancake mix, jams and syrups, and fresh Red Lake walleye fillets. As a locally owned cooperative we celebrate the history of the diverse cultures around us that have shaped who we are as a community, particularly the local food system, ways of sustainable living, and respect for the land.
Springtime is always a special time here in northern Minnesota. As long as winter may feel, no matter how deep the snowbanks, once Mother Nature decides it's time for a change there's no going back. It seems like no time at all between when the ice houses start coming off the lakes and the honks of geese and swans echoing through the air as the open patches of water grow on the lakes and rivers. Take a walk along your favorite woodland trail and you'll see more and more little footprints in the snow as the wildlife begins to come out of hibernation. We humans, too, are coming out of a sort of hibernation, as science and nature combine to release the hold the COVID pandemic has had on the world for the past year. Even though any seasoned Minnesotan knows that the first few days of warm weather are just a taste of actual springtime and we're probably going to be doing a little more shoveling before we can put away the snow removal equipment - it still feels like the whole planet is coming out of a long, hard winter, and that makes the sunshine feel all that much sweeter.