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  • Writer's pictureHarmony Coop

The Value and Necessity of Supporting Local and Regional Businesses

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

For years Harmony has been actively pursuing ways to strengthen and sustain a local/regional food system that facilitates the availability and movement of high-quality local and regional products to rural northern Minnesota.  What began in the late 1990’s as an explicit intention to purchase whatever high quality local items were available to Harmony – from a smattering of surplus garden produce like cabbage and tomatoes to local shelf stable products like Secret Garden soup mixes and Minnestalgia jams and jellies – has evolved into a strategic local/regional foods program that encompasses several dozen local/regional small businesses with retail space in nearly all of Harmony’s departments.  

The sudden appearance of a global pandemic in early 2020 has underscored the value and necessity of regional food systems.  In these last few months, we’ve all witnessed significant supply issues in the industrial food sector caused by the temporary closure of centralized meat packing plants, processing plants and distribution centers due to high numbers of employees testing positive for COVID, among numerous other variables.  Although Harmony also experienced supply disruptions across the board, we noticed that maintaining adequate supply of our local and regional products was largely unaffected.   We’d like to call out our some of these local/regional vendors, many of whom have been able to deepen and expand their businesses throughout the years because of your support:

Natural Way Mills: Middle River, MN.  Providing staple grains and fresh milled flour since 1973.

Bar Bell Bee Ranch: Itasca County, MN.  Providing sustainably harvested honey since 1976.

Red Lake Nation Foods: Red Lake Nation.  Providing staple foods such as wild rice, maple syrup, and berry-based jams and jellies which represent the cultural heritage of this 850,000-acre sovereign nation in Northern Minnesota.

Frenzel Farms: Northome, MN.  Providing free-range eggs from their generationally operated family farm.

Alakef Coffee: Duluth, MN.  Providing locally roasted coffee beans (originally roasted from a school-house basement!) since 1990.

Ferndale Farms: Cannon Falls, MN.  Providing antibiotic-free poultry products on their three-generation family farm since 1939.

3rd Street Bakery: Duluth, MN. Providing fresh-baked bread from their employee-owned cooperative bakery since 1983.

Merry Gardens Organic Farm: Bagley, MN.  Certified organic produce and heritage pigs using sustainable farming practices in north central Minnesota.

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