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Spring 2015

Promoting a vibrant, localized economy!



Reliable packs and bags — for the wilderness or the board room

Brandt Gardens Keeping Our Community Healthy

Light Reading An Illuminating Vision

River Rock Coffee A local gem

Promoting a vibrant, localized economy! SPRING 2015


Promoting a vibrant, localized Minnesota economy

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Editor’s Note


hen we began this journey what seems like yesterday and ages ago, it occurred to me that we were starting down a path, and I didn’t know where it would lead. Now the snow has melted, the world is made anew, and here we are at our third issue of Make It Minnesota. Even now I am only starting to grasp the destination, the purpose that was a dream both vivid and foggy. As this issue was coming together and I read and reread the articles by our staff and contributors, the fog cleared ever so slightly, and I saw that the shadows were not places or businesses or even the looming grace of the Northwoods’ timber; they were people, both proud and humble. Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but it is also a land of contradictions, the diversity of its people matched only by the great variations of its weather, sometimes in the course of an hour. In a new world where the new American Dream is “building a life around a passion” (pg. 12), the destination is Minnesotans and the purpose is sharing their story.

Benjamin Matzke

Benjamin Matzke



Contributors Publisher/Editor/Poet Benjamin Matzke Production Manager Leah Matzke Staff Contributers Megan Poehler Leah Kurth Without these people sharing their talents in writing, photography, illustration, and design this magazine would not be possible. Thank you!

Contributors Keri Lanhorst Kara Larson

Cover Photo By Rolf Hagberg

Copyright All images contained in Make It Minnesota are subject to copyright of the artist, illustrator or photographers as named, but not limited to. Reproduction of any part of this magazine without prior permission is prohibited. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. Disclaimer The views and comments expressed by the writers are not always that of Make It Minnesota. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the information in this publication, Make It Minnesota accepts no responsibility or liability for any errors, omissions or resultant consequences, including any loss or damage arising from reliance on information in this publication.


Keri Langhorst currently lives on a farm near Lake Madison. She has a B.A. in Communication from Bethany Lutheran College. She is a wife and a stay at home mother with 2 small children and enjoys spending time outdoors with friends and family.

Kara Larson may be a South Dakota transplant, but today she is proud to call Minneapolis home. With a B.A. in English, she now finds passion in spreading the word on the magic of Minnesota. She is also passionate about honest creative endeavors, movies, and omelettes.

Make It Minnesota


Leah Kurth’s your friendly neighborhood designer, illustrator, and all-around art nerd. A migrant from central Wisconsin, she’s grown to love the people and places of Minnesota. Loves mangoes, fresh air, and geekery. Habla espaùol.

Megan Poehler is just your regular social media savvy twenty-something. She is a small town southern Minnesota native who loves traveling and cooking.

Leah Matzke has been a farm girl living in the city her entire life. She worked on a dairy farm in high-school and even now her mind fondly returns to that time and place when she needs a few moments of peace.

Benjamin Matzke is awesome. At least that is what he taught his 4-year-old son to say. While his livelihood requires computers and technology, his joy is turning it all off to spend time with his children or retreat into the wilderness.




04 Spring Showcase:

Uniquely Minnesota Marketplace

08 Out And About: 08 Shepherd’s Harvest Festival 10 320 Northeast 13 Featured Small Businesses

Stories from around the state

14 16 20 22 24 28


Jake’s Syrups


Frost River


Wind, Water, and Wheels


Brandt Gardens


River Rock Coffee


Maple Caramel Corn


Light Reading

30 Minnesota Kitchen:



32 Classifieds

28 SPRING 2015


Make It


Marketplace Spring Showcase All these and more available at: FOOTHUGGERS COMFORT SOCKS ANKLET From Everyday Gaiters, Co. ~ Minnetonka, MN Keep your feet warm and dry with these moisture-wicking socks. Short by design, FootHuggers Anklets offer wonderful comfort for anyone who desires a low-profile sock with all the comfort of FootHuggers. Unlike other anklets and footies, these socks will not slip down under your foot causing discomfort. Perfect for winter treks or everyday use, Everyday Gaiters’ line of products keeps you warm and comfortable in any environment.

HANDMADE FORGET-ME-NOT GARDEN MARKERS From Amy Lea ‘n Me From Asparagus to Zucchini and everything in between, never forget what’s growing in your garden again! These handmade and weather-sealed markers can withstand outside conditions and come in a variety of colors. Printed with names of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers, they’re a great way to identify your plants and add charm to any green space.


NERDASOTA T-SHIRT From Geekiana We all know someone with this kind of attitude, it could even be you! This 40/60 cotton-poly blend t-shirt is printed in black ink and is sure to bring a smile. Be sure to check out Geekiana’s quirky Minnesota and other geeky clothing.

1” FORMAL/BUSINESS SUSPENDERS From St. Clair Suspender Co. ~ St. Clair, MN Have a formal occasion coming up or just want some sleek new duds? The Suspender Guy’s Formal/Business Suspenders are sturdy yet soft and smooth, made from the highest quality polyester, and machine washable! No matter your height, weight, or size, their noslip suspenders are custom pre-set for the perfect fit. Comfortable, adjustable, durable, and snag proof, St. Clair Suspenders will do the job whether it’s everyday or that special day.

PURE MAPLE CREAM From Scarlet Jewell Maple Products, LLC ~ Cottage Grove, MN Springtime means maple syrup season! Get some delicious pure maple cream, with pure maple syrup as its only ingredient, and spread it on toast, bagels, sliced apples, and more. Produced in Pine County, Minnesota, Scarlet Jewell Maple Syrup runs 500-700 taps yearly to make the best Minnesota maple syrup and maple cream.

LOOSEY GOOSEY PANCAKE AND WAFFLE MIX From Good Earth Mill and Grains ~ Good Thunder With all the new maple syrup this time of year, what better way to use it than on homemade pancakes and waffles? This light and fluffy mix is made with freshly milled whole wheat flour and has a delicious taste and texture, with 22 grams of whole grain per serving! Good Earth Mill and Grains is a 4th generation farming family which grows organic grains and mills fresh flours and grain products.



CUSTOM CUPCAKES From Hello Sweetie ~ Mankato, MN Satisfy your sweet tooth with gourmet hand-decorated cupcakes from Hello Sweetie! Made from scratch using real butter, high quality chocolate, homemade vanilla, and top-shelf liquors. Endless flavor combinations are available to you with a variety of batters, frostings, and decorative details. Order by the dozen or in bulk for your next event.

HANDMADE VELVET KEEPSAKE BOOKMARK From Spin ‘Til Yur Dizzy ~ New Ulm, MN Perfect for any avid reader, this unique upcycled bookmark is specially designed with attention to detail. Featuring embellishments on both ends, the gray velvet ribbon has a purple mother of pearl and resin white chrysanthemum focal, antique silver filigree charm components, and silver tone findings. Spin ‘Til Yur Dizzy has created a line of handmade upcycled jewelry, accessories, lunch totes for the fashionista, and keepsake bookmarks.

PATRIOT POPS 2 LB BAG From Patriot Pops™ ~ Lamberton, MN A great snack any time, Patriot Pops’ original mix of red, white, and blue kernels will be sure to satisfy your popcorn cravings! Patriot Pops popcorn is packed with antioxidants and a bold, nutty flavor. Grown on the scenic Southern Minnesota prairie on certified organic land, it makes a beautiful gift and tasty treat for the whole family to enjoy.

LOVE BLOOMS ORNAMENT From My Little Chickadee Creations ~ Farmington, MN This hand stamped and painted travertine tile ornament is a wonderful decoration year round. Featuring a heart flower design in a variety of colors, it reads “home - where love blooms.” This 2x2 inch keepsake comes ready for gift giving in a gift box with a clear lid. My Little Chickadee Creations offers a variety of travertine items, including absorbent tile coasters, trivets, magnets, worry stones, ornaments, and wedding favors.


NATURAL YARN IN ALMOND From Angora Gardens ~ Clarks Grove, MN A blend of 60% Shetland wool and 40% light brown angora wool, this combination makes a charming, soft brown. Each skein is 200 yards and is a DK weight. Angora Gardens’ little hilltop farm and rabbitry produces wool from Angora rabbits and sheep. Blended, it makes an especially soft and warm wool for knitters and handspinners.

HONEY BEE HANDMADE SOAP From Kiyi Kiyi ~ Willmar, MN This honey scented cold processed soap is packed with skin moisturizing and softening ingredients, made with Minnesota handharvested beeswax and honey! The Honey Bee scent offers sparkling notes of bergamot, sweet orange, and crisp apple; followed by rich, golden honey nectar, toffee bits, and soft white musk mingling together to create a sweet treat as natural as sunshine. Kiyi Kiyi’s soaps and body care products are all natural and handmade in small artisan batches to insure the highest quality, featuring local Minnesota ingredients.

CHICKEN BUNDLE From Spring Prairie Meats ~ Hawley, MN Get the best of Spring Prairie Meats’ all-Minnesota all natural chicken bundled together! No hormones, no additives, and no antibiotics. Customers agree that nothing comes close to their great tasting products. Based in northwestern Minnesota, Spring Prairie Meats offers a full line of fresh and cooked poultry, beef, and pork products sold at their retail store and in numerous outlets across Minnesota and North Dakota.

FELTED WOOL AND MAPLE WOOD BABY RATTLE From Simply Playing This 4 inch Waldorf-inspired rattle / teething ring is perfect for little babes. Made from felted wool yarn and maple wood, it has been plant dyed in bold rainbow colors and the wood is finished with a food grade olive oil beeswax polish. Simply Playing creates all natural, organic, eco-friendly knitted toys for babies and young children. Using only undyed or plant dyed wool yarn and naturally antibacterial wool stuffing, the simple, Waldorf-inspired designs are environment- and child-safe. SPRING 2015


Out And About Shepherd’s Harvest Festival

Washington County Fairgrounds - Lake Elmo, MN May 15-17

Shepherd’s Harvest sheep and wool festival


hepherd’s Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival is Minnesota’s premier event for wool and sheep lovers, the largest fiber festival in the state. Once upon a time, this festival was just an idea in the minds of a handful of shepherds. In 1997, the varied fibers of small flock owners were not what the big mills were looking for, so a small group of dedicated wool enthusiasts and shepherds decided to sit bravely in the spring cold, with bags of fresh fleeces, willing to speak to any fiber customer who would listen. Through the years, many dedicated volunteers have worked tirelessly to sustain and support this little festival. Many vendors, teachers and visitors come every year creating a rich history and tradition for sheep and wool lovers in the region. But it’s the dedication, curiosity and passion of the entire community that has sustained it through the years and woven the rich tapestry of talent we celebrate each year.


Families can enjoy a hands on exploration of sheep breeds, try out classes in simple and extraordinary textile arts and show the richly colored, useful goods crafted by these artists and farmers. Learn how to grow your own socks, spin your own sweaters and turn the fleece of one sheep into self-made heirlooms for your whole family. Self –proclaimed fiber fanatics can meet the shepherds who work all year to bring you the freshest, finest, locally grown wool. Build your skills in fleece preparation, hand-spinning, natural dyes, felting, weaving, rug-hooking and more. Enter your own handiwork in the handspun and felting competitions and soak up this annual gathering of tools, trade and tradition. For more information, go to

2015 Highlights:

When: Friday, May 15 (Classes only) Saturday, May 16 9:00am to 5:00pm Sunday, May 17 10:00am to 4:00pm. Rain or Shine! Where: Washington County Fairgrounds – Lake Elmo, MN Intersection of County Rd 15 & State Hwy 5 Cost: Adults: $5.00 Children (0-8): Free Parking: Free Fiber Animals Get a firsthand look at a wide variety of sheep breeds, including Lincoln Longwool, Shetland, Coopworth, Leicester, American Awassi, and Black Welsh Mountain sheep, as well as cashmere goats, dairy goats, rabbits, and a Llama obstacle course. Fleece Competition There are a great variety of types of fleece. For judging, they are placed in different groups according to color, white or natural colored, and grade, or fiber diameter, into fine, medium or long wools. There will also be a purebred class for each breed where the fleece is judged according to breed standards. Stock Dog trials The Trial will be similar to ranch-style, fun obstacle course that consists of a short outrun, lift and fetch, wearing the sheep through obstacles, and a pen. There will be a course time and all three sheep will need to complete elements for full points. The Stock Dog Trial runs begin at 12:30pm Saturday & Sunday. Rabbit Show A “living catalog” of fiber-producing rabbits will be on display. These include English Angora, French Angora, Giant Angora, Jersey Woolies, Satin Angora, and Fuzzy Lop. Visitors will have the opportunity to compare these animals side-by-side and see the variety of sizes, as well as fiber types. Fleece Preparation Demonstration How do you wash that fleece you just bought? Washing is the first step in preparing your fleece for spinning and we will show you how to do that. Classes, Demonstrations and Exhibits Over 35 classes to build your skills in fleece preparation, hand-spinning, natural dyes, felting, weaving, rug-hooking and more. Over 130 Vendors Endless shopping for fiber crafts including; rugs, slippers, hats, jewelry, dyed yarn, fleece, spinning wheels and more. SPRING 2015


Out And About 320 Northeast

320 3rd Avenue Northeast, Minneapolis, MN

320 Northeast

A Homemade Dining Experience by: KARA LARSON photos by: 2nd TRUTH PHOTOGRAPHY

“For us, that is at home. Making and sharing meals with the people we love most...people want to be a part of that.”


ebruary 2015 marked the beginning of Megan Sheridan and Matt Kappra’s visionary dinner club—320 Northeast. A big step for Minneapolis food culture, the club aims to fill an abysmal hole in the market while instilling a great deal of happiness in the young couple’s lives. More yet, the venue is imaginative. These two are serving up beautiful meals in their own home. Megan offers, “It feels right; everything about it feels right. And it is genuine. At the end of the day, making and hosting meals for people is the thing that makes us most happy. And that is what makes people want to show up—it’s not just that 320 Northeast is different. I think it has more to do with the fact that we are living into our purpose. People want to be a part of that.” But let’s start from the beginning. 320 Northeast began with a soul hunt. Not long ago, husband-wife team Matt Kappra and Megan Sheridan were leading a very different life. For Megan especially, who worked as a very busy and important (she jokes) advertising account manager in the marketing world, her days were saturated with articles on effectively managing time, doubling (or in a perfect world, tripling) her own productivity, and working to build a superficially successful life. Megan shares, “Coming from the advertising world, I went


from knowing how many emails I could send in an hour, how many conversations I could have, clocking my time every fifteen minutes to spending almost two hours picking spinach in a greenhouse. It’s a shift from everything revolving around being fast and efficient to trying to live into a slower, deeper life.”

Food Meets Philosophy

Alas, there was one aspect of Megan and Matt’s life that held promise. And it had to do with food. Megan has an environmental bend to her background as she went to the School for Environmental Studies at the Minnesota Zoo, which is where her interest in food and food systems began. Matt’s passion for food stems from his Italian background, but his craft has been honed and perfected through his significant amount of experience with food. His first job in the kitchen was at the Blue Door Pub when it opened, and since then, he has been through many restaurant openings. Some of them include Loring Kitchen & Bar, Cocina del Barrio on 50th and France, and the opening at the Butcher & The Boar. At present, Matt cooks at Lucia’s. Beyond his restaurant experience, right after college, Matt did a summer internship at a farm—something that would greatly impact his understanding of food on a grander scale.

From Matt’s time on the farm and then all his time in restaurants, he has a great deal of insight into the entire system. A couple years ago, it occurred to the duo that they should figure out how to incorporate all of this in one system. And soon, they would. So, as the pair lived the “looks great from the window” lifestyle, Megan reflects that the only real happiness she and Matt experienced was in the epic meals he would prepare every Monday.

advertising job and would come home gossiping and talking about things that seemed important at the time. But this amazing meal was the craziest contrast from how we think about Mondays in our culture. All of the junk faded away when we sat down and it was special. And it was weird that it was on Mondays, but it became this thing that people, including my husband and I, really loved. And I’m a host by nature, so I would invite everyone and it just grew and grew.”

A Case of the Mondays

As this became a beautiful tradition shared with the couple’s closest friends, Megan and Matt’s devotion and enthusiasm for this meal inspired some heavy consideration of a most basic and difficult question: “Are we happy?”

Before 320 Northeast became a reality, Monday night dinners were the tradition that inspired so much. For years, Monday dinner was special for Megan and Matt. “I was at the



It was around June of 2014 when Matt sat Megan down to discuss the depth and direction of this very question. Megan offers, “We had that moment of, “Whoa, what are we doing with our lives? We’re young and successful and unhappy and what should we do about that?” So, it was a great moment to pause. And I’m so thankful to have such an awesome husband and that we’re able to rock with each other on the same page.”

“We’re young and successful and unhappy and what should we do about that?” A Fresh Way to Dine

And that was it. 320 Northeast had wings and a vision and hope. Megan shares, “We worked so hard to find this thing. We searched for something unique that was going to make us happy and would still find a hole in the market. Being happy and finding holes in the market aren’t really two things that should be figured out in the same vein, but there it was the whole time.” So, then it was time to have a conversation about what 320 Northeast would be. “When Matt took me out in June to have the “let’s reevaluate our life things” talk, it was right at the time I picked up a book called The Third Plate by Dan Barber.” From this book, Megan was able to take away so much for their new endeavor. The first came through an “aha moment” where she realized the lack of a culture of food here. In other places, this culture revolves around things like olive oil or grapes that grow in a certain place and in great abundance that inspire a food culture around them. Building on this point, Megan came to realize, albeit through Dan Barber, that the way restaurants work is backwards. In most cases, restaurants write menus first and then go to the farmers to fulfill their menu’s needs. Megan and Matt work in the opposite fashion in their journey to build a food culture for generations to come. The first step comes through exclusively working with a handful of local farms—taking what they grow in abundance and building a menu from there.


Megan and Matt have the ability to appreciate the strength of their ideas on food. From their own plates to the larger scheme of the future of food systems and culture, 320 Northeast serves as the seamless amalgamation of the pair’s passion for good grub. “The last message from the Dan Barber book is that chefs have the power to shape culture. If we can feed ourselves entirely from this place and make it taste amazing, maybe that’s our contribution to shifting things. And if these shifts are new, amazing flavors or combinations of things people never tried before, my hope is that we’re creating cycles and things to look forward to.”

A New American Dream

This is more than a tale of a new place to dine. It is about building a life around a passion—uncovering a purpose in smoked trout and fermented cabbage—and learning what legacy deserves to be left in this world. For Megan, her legacy has to do with the famed and misguided American Dream. She shares, “It is easy to say that we aren’t linked to this place. And this ties into the American Dream of more, more, more and next, next, next—and this oftentimes means never settling in one place. So we’re looking around and saying, ‘if we’re going to be here, we better be here.’ And if it’s not possible to live here year-round from food that we grow here, then we better get out. But the beautiful thing is, it is possible. We’re doing it right now.” 320 Northeast is about living a life that’s not work—a new American Dream. “My legacy is to live and share a new American Dream. A new, more human, fulfilling, and deeper life. We made it. And we made it fast. You get all the right cues from society that you’re successful and great and well done, but you’re still miserable. What’s been interesting about our journey in particular is that people relate so much to this process that we’ve been through and the feeling that stirs the initial exploration—it’s real; people feel it.” Interested? Sign up at to get your invite.










Jake’s Syrups


Vergas, MN

“We enjoy listening to the geese flying so low you can hear the wind in their wings and the drip drip of the sap into the empty buckets. It’s like listening to the trees’ heartbeats”


arvesting sap from trees on a crisp spring day after being indoors all winter is one of the many perks Jerry Jacobson and D. Mae Ceryes enjoy about their business, Jake’s Syrups and Natural Products LLC. “It’s too early to garden and too late for winter activities,


so collecting sap is an enjoyable way to be productive outside,” D. Mae comments. “We enjoy listening to the geese flying so low you can hear the wind in their wings and the drip drip of the sap into the empty buckets. It’s like listening to the trees’ heartbeats.”


As Jerry was growing up, his parents would supply their family and friends with maple syrup. As an adult, Jerry was inspired to continue the tradition and started to produce his own maple syrup in his spare time. His friends suggested he should sell his product. So, in 1993 they became a licensed commercial facility and started their business the following spring with 485 taps. Since then, their business has grown in both quantity and diversity of its products.

with their customers. They encourage tours of their farm and educate people on the process of making maple syrup. They also participate in craft shows and share the process through pictures. They have been a member of the Minnesota Maple Syrup Producers Association for 20 years, and have won ribbons in both state fair and international syrup contests. This family hobby has become a productive business that brings high quality foods to many.

Even with the growth of their business, Jerry and D. Mae maintain the operation as a family hobby. They manage about 2000 taps and receive aid from equipment specially made for tapping trees. After the sap is collected it is simply boiled down to remove the water content and create pure maple syrup, no additives needed. “Sap looks, pours, and tastes like water with a hint of sweetness,” D. Mae explained, “and it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!” They also sell chokecherry and wild plum syrups. Other popular products their business supplies are jellies and jams. These products are also made naturally, with no additives such as artificial flavor or high fructose corn syrup. Most of the fruits are raised on their farm. They raise crabapples, black wine berries, chokecherries, gooseberries, highbush cranberries, raspberries, rhubarb, wild plums, and strawberries! This impressive variety of fruits and berries makes delicious jellies and jams perfect for desserts, on bread, and more. Their business also produces picture frames, wood trivets, and coaster sets from the hollow and deadfall trees at their farm. Since they use wood to fire the sap evaporator, they wondered what to do with the hollow trees they came upon. “We always thought [hollow trees] were uniquely beautiful and wondered what we could do with them,” D. Mae commented. They began by experimenting with picture frames. After some trial and error they perfected the task, and have expanded to unique trivets and coaster sets as well. Jerry and D. Mae enjoy sharing their passion of maple syrup SPRING 2015





Central Central


Metro Metro


FrostRiver Reliable Softgoods by: LEAH KURTH

photo courtesy Rolf Hagberg


Duluth, MN


“The Frost River has a smattering of everything—large and small lakes, beautiful falls, winding beaver streams and high beaver dams, tough, poorly-maintained portages, canoeable rapids and adventurous options. It is by far my favorite route in the Boundary Waters.” — Cliff Jacobson


rom waterfalls to lighthouses and forests to rivers, northeastern Minnesota is well known for its scenic attractions and variety of nature activities. One of the most iconic areas is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, renowned as a destination for canoeing, camping and fishing on its many lakes. Trips to this area require a lot of gear, and a good pack for carrying it in is invaluable. Frost River Trading Co. offers packs and bags made from premium raw materials with an uncompromising desire for quality goods that last for generations. Begun in 2001, Frost River got its name from the Frost River canoe route in the Boundary Waters. After operating for seven years the company went out of business, but was bought by Christian Benson in 2009 and has flourished ever since. Their permanent home on West Superior Street in Duluth houses the manufacturing shop, a retail store, office space, and shipping department, with the crew all working together in one area. “The big canvas packs we’ve built our brand on are specifically made to fit in a canoe and are specially

photo courtesy Dewey Koshenina

suited to carry a full camping outfit overland across a portage and back into the boat at the other side,” comments David Hoole, Marketing Coordinator at Frost River. “They are big, and strong enough to handle heavy loads in rough country. We build them to hold up and last for years. Those same qualifications, requirements, and philosophy apply to our luggage, daypacks, briefcases… everything we make.” Frost River prides itself on making “reliable softgoods,” outdoor equipment that can be depended upon. “Frost River packs and bags are all built from premium raw materials; waxed canvas, leather from Red Wing Minnesota, and solid brass hardware. We guarantee that our bags are put together the right way and that we use dependable materials so they can last a lifetime,” says David. One advantage of using canvas is that it is repairable, able to be taken apart, patched, given new parts, and put back together again. “We are unique in that we stand behind what we make and can service what we sell. There is an integrity in making something that can be stood behind, something that will last and be a part of our customer’s lives for many years, and adventures, to come.”

illustration by Rick Kollath

photo courtesy Dewey Koshenina SPRING 2015


are making items to sell. It’s a scene that was easy to find a hundred years ago, a group of Americans creating things with their hands, but is not so simple to find now. We are proud to have a skilled and happy workforce. It’s something we enjoy sharing with visitors, and it’s something that makes us unique in the marketplace,” David comments. While they are best known for their canoe packs, Frost River produces a diverse line of goods. Their Isle Royale packs are perfect for bushcraft wilderness journeys. Their sturdy luggage can survive any baggage check, working as carryon and weekend bags. Frost River daypacks go to class with students all over the country. Bike bags are trusty companions for commuters, trail riders, and cruisers on two wheels. The briefcases they make blend into board rooms and construction sites with equal ease. No matter the use, Frost River packs and bags are appreciated around the world for the quality of their materials and the

photo courtesy Dewey Koshenina

Upon entering the store in Duluth, one can sense the action and bustle of a working manufacturing facility. Sounds filter into the shop, of sewing machines humming, the ca-klunk of the riveting machines, rumbling from the clicker as it cuts out leather pieces, and of people proudly working on products from start to finish. “Customers are happy and often impressed when they see the process and meet the people who


photo courtesy Dewey Koshenina


craftsmanship provided by an American, specifically Minnesotan, workforce. “The bags are unique and special; people pick up on that pretty quick, even quicker once they get to feel them,” David adds. In addition to their store in Duluth, Frost River has wholesale partners across the country and around the world. Frost River’s goods can be bought in store, online, or from any of their sellers, which can be located via the Frost River website. This year the Frost River crew has been working its way through “15 New Designs for 2015,” with new products released each week. With all their products handmade one by one, the passion towards the artisan nature of their work shows with each bag made.

“We take pride in keeping a legacy alive. America was built on our ability to make what we’ve needed; we have an entrepreneurial spirit,” David comments. “It’s good to help keep a craft alive. It feels good for us to export. It’s energizing to be among a skilled American workforce. We all enjoy making stuff and take pride in what we do. Our community and our region is stronger because of the new money and jobs we bring into the area. It feels good to work here and we’re proud to make things that other people want. Our ‘reliable softgoods’ carry a reputation of durability and endurance during travel in the urban and backcountry wilds. Our packs and bags are built for the woods — it’s in their character, they’re honest and we love ‘em.”

photo courtesy Dewey Koshenina SPRING 2015









Wind, Water, and Wheels

A Trifecta of Minnesota Outdoor Fun by: KARA LARSON


connection to nature is a beautiful thing. Jim Bergquist, owner of Wind, Water, & Wheels, aims to provide an exciting way to experience this beauty right in Crosslake, Minnesota. Jim grew up in south Minneapolis, but he found himself akin to the outdoorsman lifestyle. And today, he lives it. Wind, Water, & Wheels is the home of locally made Crow Wing Kayaks—a company that Jim also owns. Beyond kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and a wide variety of bikes are also available. Through these options, Wind, Water, & Wheels provides a one-stop shop for those looking to experience the outdoors in a fresh and enlivening way. And it has been proven successful. Jim shares, “Our first year in 2013 at our Crosslake location was huge. Last summer we did even better increasing our sales over 30%. We are expecting this summer to be even busier.” Devoted to promoting the sport of kayaking in particular, Jim has teamed up with many members of the community to draw in new people. He adds, “We are promoting this popular sport in many ways! I teach kayak courses at two local Community Education Districts, we offer a course through the city’s Park and Recreation Department and a free paddle through the US Corp of Engineers Campground in Crosslake. We take it one step further and offer a shuttle service to the Pine River and other local lakes.” Through these opportunities to get out within the Crosslake community, Wind, Water, & Wheels inspires connections alongside a brilliant escape into nature. And


Crosslake, MN


“You can go anywhere and buy kayaks, but when people find out that they’re made right here, it takes it one step further.” for Jim, this is one of his favorite aspects of being involved. “I love being part of the community and offering a product that’s made locally. People really like our kayaks. You can go anywhere and buy kayaks, but when people find out that they’re made right here, it takes it one step further. They are the sit on top, very accessible, stable type of kayaks. We find a lot of people that have always wanted to kayak, but worry about tipping or getting stuck. And ours are a perfect choice for people like that all the way to experienced kayakers.” Another beautiful thing: anyone can get involved. Jim started the Crow Wing Paddlers Club, which is open to all. “We were trying to figure out how to promote the sport, so we started a paddling club. We go out every week or two. We have over forty people signed up and we’ve had groups as big as twenty people participate. It’s a great time to get to know each other and try different kinds of kayaks. Sometimes people have their own that they want to paddle on, but we provide them as well.” Jim continues, “There’s no other place to rent kayaks, standup paddleboards, and bikes in town and Crosslake is a huge vacation area. It easily draws in tens of thousands of people and being so close to not only the Whitefish Chain, but also Pine River (an excellent paddling river), makes it an ideal area.” With all of these avenues of involvement, a locally and wellmade product, and ties to the community, Jim has seen a great

deal of success from great sources. “We get so many referrals and people who come specifically for our kayaks. They’ll say, “friends of ours bought some Crow Wing kayaks last year and we tried them and fell in love,” which is great to hear. It’s becoming a community within a community.” He adds, “Stop in to see why people say that our kayaks are a step above the others. They are durable, stable, portable and affordable!” And in the end, Wind, Water, & Wheels deserves a circle back to nature. Jim shares, “Certainly it allows people to get out and enjoy nature. And it’s something most people can do by themselves. Kayaks are very portable—you can throw them in a car or on top, and once you’re out, you can get into any body of water. So it really opens up a whole new venue for people. It’s a far different feeling than being in a boat or a canoe— you’re just that much closer to the water.”










Brandt Gardens & Greenhouse Keeping Our Community Healthy

Lakefield, MN



s the winds of winter die down, spring is making its colorful debut. For most, this means walks outside, riding bikes, and finally putting away the ice scraper. For Bill Brandt, it means the start of the growing season. He grows plants and produce with his family on their farm in Lakefield, Minnesota. This may be the start of the growing season, but Bill does so much more than just grow produce. Brandt Gardens and Greenhouse was started by Bill and Rhonda Brandt in 2000. It originally began as a family project for their sons, Matthew, Nathan, and Aaron, to teach them responsibility and work ethic. Now a seasonal business, Brandt Gardens grows plants and vegetables to sell at local markets. They sell annual and perennial plants, as well as a wide variety of vegetables. Currently, they sell at three local farmers’ markets, in Spirit Lake, IA, Windom, MN, and Jackson, MN, as well as four local businesses. They also sell directly from the farm, and just started an online ordering system to reserve plants and produce for local pickup. Bill believes it is important for everyone to have access to fresh fruit and vegetables. That’s why he partnered with the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) to focus on



“It’s important for everyone to have access to fresh foods” improving nutrition in local communities. Brandt’s mission is to grow healthy, nutrient-dense vegetables for its community at an affordable price. To do this, Bill makes several trips a week to local businesses to sell to their employees. He says that employers play a vital role in the health of their employees. Healthy employees are more productive, use less sick time, and reduce healthcare costs. “It’s important for everyone to have access to fresh foods”, Bill says, “and it tastes better than what you can purchase at a grocery store.” The most important reason, however, is that by buying fresh foods, you are supporting local growers. Bill says it’s important to support these local growers because they pay local property taxes and support local schools, health care businesses, and other local businesses promoting a healthy local economy. Bill has lived in Minnesota is whole life, and his favorite thing about living here is the harvest season and the changing colors in nature. He enjoys growing all things. It’s rewarding, relaxing, and real. The most popular produce he sells are sweet corn and tomatoes, “because they taste GREAT!”. Bill’s vision for rural Minnesota is one of hope that his business and businesses like it will be successful, so that young people can stay in or return to rural Minnesota and live comfortably and happily with fresh and local goods. His next step for Brandt Gardens is to start including meat products in the inventory from the livestock and poultry they raise on the farm. To view the wide selection of plants and produce, from flowers and herbs to fruit and vegetables, and to place an order, go to If you are a local business, or want your employer to set up a worksite produce market with Brandt, call Bill at 507-662-5631. To learn more about the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), visit




NE Central





River Rock Coffee A Local Gem



Saint Peter, MN

othing beats a good cup of coffee. Especially when it’s made with handcrafted flavorings, accompanied by a made-from-scratch pastry, and served with a generous helping of hospitality. You’ll find just that at River Rock Coffee, a cozy café in Saint Peter, Minnesota.





River Rock Coffee began 13 years ago when owner Tamika Bertram, inspired by the “seasonal food movement,” saw how the area could use a coffee shop dedicated to sourcing food locally. Since then, they’ve developed relationships with local farmers and growers to provide as many seasonal and locally produced products as possible. With this mutualistic relationship the shop can support the community while receiving the freshest ingredients. This attention to quality ingredients is evident in River Rock’s kitchen and bakery. Everything is made from scratch, from soups to sauces, scones to sandwiches, and cupcakes to cookies. The menu shifts with the seasons, offering new flavors and twists on old favorites


throughout the year. Chef and baker Montana Rasmussen states, “We are constantly in pursuit of wonderful flavor combinations in our baked goods and our drinks. For example, you can go anywhere and get a plain blueberry muffin, but we like to find other interesting ingredients to pair it with, like lemon or sage. When an ingredient is in season we have a lot of opportunities to test out different ideas, and we always record the ones that people love, rave, and ask about so later on we can bring back those really stellar favorite flavors.” These baked goods always go perfectly with a cup of joe, as manager Katie Kruger points out, “You’re most likely enjoying your muffin or scone with a great cup of coffee,


“You have to eat, you might as well enjoy it.” which has just as many complex flavors involved, so coffee and bakery pairings are always really exciting.” At least half of the shop’s business comes from coffee, and though coffee plants themselves aren’t grown in Minnesota, they work with a local roaster whom they trust who works directly with the farmers who grow it. This way, even though the shop can’t get coffee locally, they still work with people locally. Recently however, River Rock has expanded its mission to have a more global impact. Lead barista Helena Shanks had the opportunity to travel to Chiapas, Mexico with the non-profit organization On the Ground to coffee’s beginnings. She and others visited the farmers, saw firsthand their daily struggles, and supported them through On the Ground’s water projects. Montana explains how “she’s now seen [the coffee process] from beginning to end, from small plants to the picked coffee cherries to a brewed cup, she’s now that missing link to customers. A lot of people never really think beyond that coffee, who touched it, who picked it. I think more of that focus has been on food and local farmers, but we want to be involved with our farmers globally as well to support them in the best way possible.” When asked what inspired the shop to use local and organic ingredients, Montana notes that it simply tastes better. She laughs, “you have to eat, you might as well enjoy it.” Katie chimes in that, “when you work with the best ingredients you don’t have to overwork them or do much to bring out the flavor because it’s there.” With great tasting products comes happy customers. These ladies view themselves as hostesses, wanting people who walk in to feel like they are at home, welcomed and genuinely appreciated. “I think that’s what makes this place unique, the amount of care that goes into everything here, whether it’s the interactions with customers or the making of the actual products itself,” says Montana. River Rock Coffee is a great place to enjoy delicious coffee, tasty food, and warm service, and feel good that it supports its producers both locally and now globally. Its ever-shifting menu and drive to constantly improve and grow sets it apart as a true gem.










Light Reading

An Illuminating Vision by: Kara Larson

Savage, MN

Even more recently, her family has become part of the business. “For the past 10 years my family has joined in with their creativity and talent. My husband has become quite the artist using architectural salvage and parts to make floor lamps. In 2010, our daughter Jess began making photo slide lampshades.” For Brenda, Jess’s involvement has added a great deal to the success of Light Reading. “My daughter Jess is very talented, tech savvy, and fearless when it comes to publicity and sales. She’s trying to help me make better use of the Internet.” Brenda adds, “We benefit from the perspective of two generations. Jess has a creative vision that meshes with mine but is uniquely her own. She works part time with me and is a full time student.”


he familiar flicker emanates warmth. The inviting light softens a room. And for Brenda Irwin, the craft and care behind her lamps offer something even more unique—the charm of being handmade and locally sourced. The beginnings of Light Reading, Brenda’s lampshade business, started simply. Brenda reminisces, “It really began in the 1980s when I learned to make shades from Nancy, my sister-in-law. Her cut and pierced lampshades were famously beautiful and the first time I saw them, I knew I wanted to try it.” And since this inspiring first look, Brenda has been branching out and coming up with new shade ideas for many years. She started selling in craft malls and on eBay and then began to get inquiries about custom work. Soon, shopkeepers asked her about wholesale and consignment. Now, Brenda has opened an Etsy shop and travels to shows like Junk Bonanza, Craftstravaganza, No Coast, and other Midwestern shows like JunkStock Omaha.


With the help of her family, Brenda finds that their interest has brought something new to the process—something wonderful. And today, they inspire some of her favorite aspects of owning Light Reading. “Working with my family, selling at shows with my daughter, seeing the fabulous designs my husband comes up with. We enjoy our customers and often receive appreciation photos and thank you notes.” A business with a quality, carefully made product, a connection to family ties, and an appreciation for locally sourced goods, Light Reading is proudly based in Savage, Minnesota. In describing what it means to be a maker in Savage, Brenda believes that her lampshades end up in the homes of people on a quest for unique decorative pieces. “Savage is a community of newer suburban homes, and people are really searching for unique items to make the house feel less “builder beige.” She adds, “Lighting is an excellent way to add character to a home. I also think that in the darkness of our winters there is nothing like a lamp in the window or reading corner. Lamplight is warm and uplifting, it welcomes you into a room.”


“I love practicality; people use our lights every day.”

In terms of adding to the community of Savage, even though Light Reading does not have a retail store, Brenda has sold lamps through local shops and has also supported community fundraisers or silent auctions by donating lamps. All of this involvement adds Brenda and Light Reading to an entire community of local makers. And as a small business owner, she wants to support local makers like herself. On shopping local, she shares, “It means staying south of the river. I go to local antique and thrift stores weekly looking for lamp parts and fine old lamps that need a little work. I’m a member of HandmadeMN, which is an Etsy team. I do shop with those makers online and some live in the southern metro. There are fellow Junk Bonanza vendors that have brick and mortar stores nearby, it’s fun to go say hello and find supplies like grain sacks or old maps which I use for lampshades.” Light Reading’s shades may be constructed from locally sourced materials; however, the modern marketplace allows for worldwide distribution. Brenda offers, “Of course there are friends and neighbors with our lamps in their living rooms! We ship our products all over the world so I’m sure there are folks in South Africa and Japan and Finland who open the box and say “Savage Minnesota?””

Through Light Reading, Brenda provides custom-made and beautiful pieces for everyday life. What does this mean to her as a local maker? “I love practicality; people use our lights every day. We do a high percentage of custom work, making lampshades for specific rooms or hard to find shapes and fittings for old lamps,” shares Brenda. “Working with local designers is always interesting, very enjoyable. There are so many different creative directions we can go with lighting; from re-purposing vintage materials to new, very modern paper shades.” As Brenda expands her business and aspires to try new things, she maintains that creativity and innovation have the ability to push a person forward, always. With this mentality, she offers, “We are currently making a line of huge malt sack pendants for craft brewers. Shades from antique grain bags and flour sacks are selling fast. When I get tired of the vintage look, I can switch to modern. Repetition is a necessity for any creative business, but variety is key for happiness in that business.” At the end of the day, Brenda hopes Light Reading encourages one essential feeling—happiness. “A well-made product, interesting and different, surprising and fun. I’d like our customers to get just a moment of joy and delight every time they switch on a lamp.”



Minnesota Kitchen

By: Megan Poehler


Foley Food Mill:

Maple Flavored Caramel Corn E

veryone loves caramel corn. Unfortunately, everyone’s old favorite may not be the best for you. But this recipe is a healthier alternative. Instead of refined sugars and corn syrup, this caramel corn recipe uses pure maple syrup. For this easy-to-make snack, we used Sturdiwheat Maple Syrup, made in Red Wing, MN, and Patriot Pops organic popcorn, made in Lamberton, MN. Other ingredients include butter, milk (you could substitute with unsweetened almond or coconut milk for an even healthier option), and salt. We also used coarse sea salt to sprinkle on for that perfect sweet and salty taste! Sturdiwheat syrup purchased from St. Peter Food Co-op, Patriot Pops from


Before starting, make sure you have two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. First you will need to pop your popcorn, about 1 cup. You can do this in any way. We used coconut oil in this vintage stove-top hand-crank popper. Set aside popcorn in a large bowl. Bring the butter, syrup, milk, and a dash of salt to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until temperature reaches 220 degrees fahrenheit, stirring constantly. This will take several minutes. Do not overheat. Drizzle over popcorn and stir, continuing to drizzle and stir until all the caramel is used. Spread the popcorn onto the baking sheets. If desired, (we recommend it!) sprinkle coarse salt over the popcorn.

Make memories with every turn by using a vintage stove-top hand-crank popper.

Bake in preheated oven at 250 degrees for about 20 minutes. Then let cool completely before eating, stirring a few times to prevent sticking. This healthy snack is perfect to take on-the-go and great for families and parties, though it won’t last long! For more photos and tips on this recipe, visit

Ingredients: - 1 cup popcorn - 1/2 cup butter - 1 cup maple syrup - 1 cup milk - dash of salt - coarse sea salt Also need: candy thermometer





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Rain Dancer Beauty is in the eye of the beholder Fun is what you make of it The heart knows what it wants And the rain can not hinder it We wait on the spring From the heat of July To brisk days of autumn And blistering cold of days forgotten And yet we do not embrace it We hide from the rain Though our hearts would have us dance


Make It Minnesota - Spring 2015  

Promoting a vibrant, localized economy.

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