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North Circle Project

Organic Farmers in North Branch, Chisago County and surrounding East Central areas

The aim of WEI’s North Circle Project is to promote the health and integrity of our rural communities and to address and eliminate rural poverty by supporting small family farms through collaborative sustainable agricultural practices. This will eventually include a local food hub to distribute this produce to local consumers, health providers, food-related businesses and other markets. The scope of the project includes small-scale farms and market gardens in the North Branch and Lindstrom area, extended to include within the larger north circle small farms throughout Chisago County and surrounding East Central counties. The aim is to provide local, healthy, organic produce for local consumers who in turn will support local small farms and a renewed integrity and trust in our local food system.

In 2015-2016, WEI’s North Circle Project supports this effort with a USDA grant focused on developing farmer networks, farmer education, and coordinated farm planning for the 2016 season. A high priority this fall will be finding new beginning farmers and experienced farmers willing to participate in networking and training in organic certification, soil management, pest and disease identification, cover cropping, deep-winter farming, and biodiversity/cultural-diversity in agri-cultures. The North Circle Project is moving forward in tandem with work of the Chisago County Food Charter and a proposed feasibility study for a food hub located in North Branch, MN.

WEI is seeking local fruit and vegetable growers, interested consumers or buyers, social investors or anyone with related expertise to participate in this project. Contact Jacquelyn Zita for more info at jz@w-e-i.org or call WEI 651-583-0705.

What does the North Circle Project Offer?

  • Provides local organic farmers with farmer-to-farmer learning and peer sharing of ideas.
  • Provides information and resources to local farmers who are interested in transitioning to organically certified production or submitting paperwork for certification.
  • Develops North Circle market research to help local organic farmers sell their produce at more sustainable wholesale or retail values.
  • Assists local organic growers with farming plans, farm labor, marketing and distribution.
  • Organizes rural and urban community consumers and businesses to support of The North Circle Project farmers.
  • Assists North Circle Farmers with addressing specific needs and challenges within their communities.
  • Offers a North Circle Brand that North Circle Farmers to market their products along with their family farm signature on their produce and value-added products.
  • Provides opportunities for farmer tune-up trainings and travel to farm conferences and farm field trips
  • Offers short courses and public forums on the history, cultural diversity and social justice struggles related to farming and agricultural practices and the global food system.

What Does It Mean To Purchase North Circle Project Products?

When you purchase North Circle produce or value-added products, you know you are helping support small family farms and market gardeners located our local area. You also know your food is fresh, healthy and free of synthetic pesticides and you know that these are farmers dedicated to revitalizing their soil without using synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, sludge or GMO crops. Through our North Circle ads, logo and website, community members have the opportunity to get to know our local farmers and learn more about how they grow their produce or how and where they create value-added jams, jellies, pickles, sauerkraut or other products.

Three Community Promises:

We ask that local food providers, restaurateurs, grocers and other relevant businesses source at least five local products from our North Circle Farmers. We ask that our children in schools, our patients in hospitals, our families and single moms and dads, and our elders in local institution care be provided with fresh, local organic produce and products. We ask that travelling weed teams be recruited to assist North Circle farmers in a half day of weeding in exchange for a healthy farm meal. This brings community support to small farms supporting our community – the “North Circle.”

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