22 Things You Need To Know About Minnesota – Farmer Edition

Recently, I received an email about a post called “22 Things You Need To Know About Minnesota Before You Move There”. A person from the real estate company that published the article alerted me to it. I’m not really sure how she got my email or why she sent it to me, but thank you!

Now you can read the post for yourself, but being a farmer, I found a main component of Minnesota missing in this piece. Agriculture!  There was a shout out to our awesome apple development from the U of M (Love me some Honeycrisp apples!) and the mention of a few food based items. Food trucks anyone? But there is a lot happening in ag in Minnesota!

If you’re like me, and the reason you’ve moved to MN or around our great  state is because of agriculture, here is my version of 22 Thing You Need To Know About Minnesota- Farmer Edition.

1. We are the #1 producer of these crazy looking things called Sugar Beets!

Photo from Star Tribune- Glen Stubbe link: http://www.startribune.com/business/230752561.html

Photo from Star Tribune- Glen Stubbe link: http://www.startribune.com/business/230752561.html

Yes, Sugar Beets. Minnesota is number one in the nation in sugar beet production. We supply the nation with refined sugar that you use in baking cakes, cookies and more! Now they are kind of funky looking, and don’t look anything like your average beet per-say, but they provide that sugary sweetness to that chocolate chip cookie you’re eating!

2. There are over 81,000 farms in Minnesota!

Photo courtesy of Guentzel Family Farm. Link: http://www.guentzelfamilyfarms.com/

Photo courtesy of Guentzel Family Farm. Link: http://www.guentzelfamilyfarms.com/

Minnesota is home to about 81,000 farms! Majority of these have been a family operation for multiple generations! If you’re moving to Minnesota, be aware that we are a state that is very involved in agriculture. We have livestock, trucks, tractors and kids that are out and about. Our farms make noise and odd smells, but it is to produce healthy and abundant food for our consumers! The best part about living in Minnesota, is you can connect with farmers through a variety of ways be it the Minnesota Grown Directory or the Farming Today program!

3. We really like our wine.

 Not only did the University of Minnesota develop some pretty darn good apple varieties, but they have also developed cold-hardy grape varieties to support the wine industry in Minnesota! To put it in perspective, one acre of Minnesota grown grapes can produce 2,800 bottles of wine. In 2009, Minnesota produced over 93,000 gallons of wine. As of 2012, we had 41 different wineries in Minnesota! We even have established wine tour stops for those that want to try a few different wineries in a day. If you like wine, we definitely have a place for you in Minnesota!

4. You’re going to get the finger wave when driving.

It’s a farmer thing. If you get the one finger wave while driving, just wave back. All it takes is a simple lift of your pointer finger. It’s a friendly acknowledgement among drivers. When you get the one finger wave, consider yourself fully acclimated to Minnesota.

5. “You’re such a Turkey…Farmer”

Turkey photo courtesy of the MN Turkey Growers Association.

Turkey photo courtesy of the MN Turkey Growers Association.

I think my mom called me a “little turkey” a few times while I tried to get in the candy cupboard at home. Minnesota leads the nation in turkey production! Around 250 farmers raise 47 million turkeys in Minnesota on an annual basis! And those food trucks mentioned in the that original post. Minnesota has one of those called Turkey to Go, where all things that are turkey and delicious are served. You can even have them cater your event! I recommend the slow roasted turkey drumstick myself!

6. We have a fantastic horse racing track.

Photo courtesy of Canterburylive.com

Photo courtesy of Canterburylive.com

Minnesota is home to Canterbury Park located in Shakopee that features horse racing during the summer. Canterbury Park’s stable has 33 barns and 1,576 stalls. That is a lot of ahem, horse power! Minnesota is home to both a Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing association. And in terms of sod agriculture, their turf courses feature Kentucky bluegrass and rye.

If horses are your thing, Minnesota is a great place to make your home because not only do we have a great race track, we offer over a 1,000 miles of trails for riding too! We even have 13 state parks that are equine friendly for camping!

7. We have a thing for corn mazes.

Photo courtesy of Severs. Link: http://www.severscornmaze.com/

Photo courtesy of Severs. Link: http://www.severscornmaze.com/

What did one ear of corn say to the other ear of corn? I think someone is stalking us. Badabadunn… Okay, I apologize for the “corney” joke! But come fall time in Minnesota, we have a serious abundance of corn mazes for you to get lost in. One of my favorite’s is Sever’s Corn Maze. They change the design every year, as does the one at Montgomery Orchard.  But really, if getting lost in 7 foot corn is your idea of fun, we’ve got you covered. I tend to do that without a maze when out checking fields…

8. When driving through a small town, you will notice a line up of trucks at the local diner.

Trucks lined up!

Trucks lined up!

Eat there. Seriously. The local diner’s have the best food ever. Think mom’s cooking at a great price and some of the best service ever. The farmers are probably in there having coffee, discussing the weather and markets. Don’t let them scare  you away! Honestly though, try out the local diners where you see those trucks. There is a reason the farmers keep coming back (shhh…the food is good!)

9. We love farming so much, we have a whole section dedicated to it at our zoo!

Photo courtesy of mnzoo.org

Photo courtesy of mnzoo.org

Most of us go to the zoo expecting to see monkeys, bears and zebras (don’t worry, they have them too) but at the Minnesota Zoo, you can see goats, chicks, sheep, cows and horses. They are all part of the Wells Fargo Family Farm exhibit at the zoo! The zoo even has their own draft horses that are featured in parades and are also part of the Minnesota State Fair in the horse exhibit and parades that happen there. You can hop on a wagon, pulled by a tractor and get a ride out to the farm. You can pet and feed the goats, see rabbits, pigs or climb through a grain elevator. Farming is a big deal in Minnesota, even at our zoo!

10. Our dairy industry helps make some really awesome cheese!

Cheese Cave photo courtesy of Faribault Dairy

Cheese Cave photo courtesy of Faribault Dairy

I love cheese. I really do. My husband and I purchase all kinds of cheese: goudas, cheddars, havarti…the list goes on. We are lucky enough to be situated near not one, but two really awesome cheese stores. The Caves of Faribault  famous for their blue cheese, aged in sandstone caves, has a retail store called The Cheese Cave located in downtown Faribault. There is also the Friendly Confines Cheese Shoppe in Le Sueur. We also are lucky enough to have some really awesome artisan cheese makers in our state too. Check out Redhead Creamery to find out more about their story, and find out about Alise, their cheese maker! Now, what does this all have to do with agriculture. Dairy people. Dairy. Minnesota has close to 500,000 cows, producing about 9 billions pounds of milk! That is a lot of milk, and it makes me happy because it means more cheese for me! So if cheese is your thing, we’ve got you covered there too!

11. You’re going to hear Wild Rice a lot.

WildRice

Wild rice soup, wild rice hotdish, wild rice brauts, wild rice, wild rice, wild rice. Minnesota is pretty proud of our Wild Rice industry, so proud in fact, Wild Rice is our state grain! To get technical, wild rice isn’t really a rice at all, but an aquatic grass. If you’ve never had it before, and you just moved to Minnesota, I recommend the chicken wild rice soup. You can’t go wrong!

12. Agriculture in Minnesota has you covered if you need waterproof clothing.

Photo courtesy of Udder Tech.

Photo courtesy of Udder Tech.

It rains in Minnesota. More than you think. We also have a lot of lakes, streams and ponds. Udder Tech, a locally owned company developed some of the best waterproof jackets and bibs around! They even have your baby calves covered if you purchased some of those during your move to Minnesota! But really, the company developed their line of waterproof gear for dairy farmers, and have branched into other industries such as swine and poultry. They would be great for washing your boat or new camper, and they come in a bright pink for the ladies!

13.You’ll fit right in with a Farm Boy T-shirt!

FARM_BOY_AF-LOC-NB_medium

Worried about fitting in after your move to Minnesota? I’ve got the secret. Get yourself a Farm Boy or Farm Girl t-shirt! They have your cat and dog covered too. Farm Boy Clothing brand is based out of Maplewood, Minnesota and has lots of clothing options from t-shirts to jackets that will have you fitting right in with our Minnesota farming crowd.

14. Your summer will stay busy & we’ve got tractor pulls to fill it!

Photo courtesy of moorephotosmn.com/untied pullers

Photo courtesy of moorephotosmn.com/untied pullers

Although Minnesota is full of winter activities, summer really picks up! Tractor pulls fill the grandstands of every single country fair during the summer in Minnesota. If you haven’t been to one before, they get loud but are fun to watch! This isn’t your average tractor pulling either. These tractors are supped up with multiple engines, turbo chargers, and beefed up injection pumps.

15. Minnesota is home to some of the best bee research and breeding.

beekeeping suit.

beekeeping suit.

If you wanted to learn about bees, Minnesota is the place to live. There is a huge amount of research and education going on at the University of Minnesota.  We’ve even developed the Minnesota Hygenic Bee. We are also home to some great bee supply companies such as Mann Lake . Depending on where the bees are pollinating in Minnesota, your honey will taste differently. Supporting honeybees in Minnesota is a perfect excuse to add a little extra honey to your tea!

16. We honor royalty, by carving their head in butter.

I can’t make this stuff up. Our Princess Kay of the Milky Way, who represents the dairy industry within our state, gets her likeness carved out of one heck of a big block of butter! There is even a Wikipedia page dedicated to the program with an entire section about the butter carvings. So if you just moved to Minnesota and are wondering about those butter heads while you visit the state fair, you now know it is just another way we honor our lovely royal ladies!

17. In Minnesota, there are parades and then there are TRACTOR parades.

Yes, tractor parades. We are pretty proud of our equipment here in Minnesota. Some parades are only tractors, while others are about 90% tractors with a few candy throwing businesses mixed in. There are families that own multiple sets of tractors, and all will drive them in the parades. A recent parade in Randolph, Minnesota featured over 100 different tractors! 

18. We are famous for the Minneapolis Moline.

Minneapolis Moline

Minneapolis Moline

Minneapolis Moline was founded in 1929 with a merger of Moline Plow Co., Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co., and Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Co. Minneapolis Moline has now been bought out by multiple companies and is now (through buyouts) part of AGCO, which has a plant in Jackson, Minnesota. We are pretty proud of our Minneapolis Moline tractors, so if someone mentions their MM, you now know what piece of farming history in Minnesota they are referring to.

19. Oh Give Me A Home, Where The Buffalo Roam.

Photo courtesy of the MN DNR

Photo courtesy of the MN DNR

Minnesota is the place to be! We are second in the nation for the number of bison we raise each year. A bison burger is one of my favorites at many festivals and fairs, and the demand for bison meat is on the rise.  Minnesota is even home to one of the genetically purest grazing herds in Pipestone at Blue Mounds State Park, managed by the DNR.  So if you really want a home where the buffalo roam, we recommend Minnesota!

20. It’s better with boots on in Minnesota.

One of the many boot statues in Red Wing, MN

One of the many boot statues in Red Wing, MN

Farmers have to wear work boots. The best kind of work boots are made right here in Minnesota. Red Wing Shoes out of Red Wing, Minnesota carries an entire line of work boots that not only do farmers wear while out working so do construction workers, electricians, mechanics and more! Not only do farmers help supply the leather needed to make these boots, we kind of live in them too. I recommend a visit to the Red Wing Shoe store in Red Wing to see the world’s largest boot and get yourself a pair of steel-toe boots while you’re there! You can come help at our farm to get those new boots dirty!

21. We are home to one of the largest farmers markets in the Midwest!

Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Farmers Market

Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Farmers Market

The Minneapolis Farmers Market has two locations- Nicollet Mall Market & Lyndale Market, and is the largest of its kind in the upper Midwest. Between the two markets, there are over 200 vendors selling meats, produce, flowers and more! The fresh veggie and fruit selection is huge and covers everything from strawberries to eggplant to melons. There is maple syrup, honey, butter, oils, and more.  Even with that, most cities have their own farmers markets too boasting tons of fresh produce. Mankato has a large farmers market, as does Rochester. More than likely though, the town you are moving to, has some type of farmers market. My hometown of Faribault, has one where a gentleman is famous for his chocolate covered jalapenos!

22. We have our own fair share of country western tales and history here.

Not sure if this is Jesse James or Cole Younger from the reenactment crew in Northfield. Either way, he rode in guns a blazing to the rodeo arena!

Not sure if this is Jesse James or Cole Younger from the reenactment crew in Northfield. Either way, he rode in guns a blazing to the rodeo arena!

Let’s talk about country and western for a minute. The infamous Jesse James and the Younger Gang came to our state back in the day chasing after the Pinkerton’s and their railroad money. The Northfield bank robbery was botched and  able to capture the Younger brothers. Now every year they put on a reenactment and the annual Jesse James Days Rodeo.  There is also a Younger Brother’s Capture reenactment in Madelia, a town that boasts their own Jesse James Days story as well. We’re talking guns slinging, horse riding, and trench coats with bullet holes country western right here in Minnesota.

In case you were wondering about Minnesota being agriculturally tied, now you know. When you move to Minnesota we will welcome you with open arms to corn fields, livestock, fresh produce, parades, rodeos and more. Minnesota is home to some amazing things happening in agriculture! I’m pretty proud to be living in a state where we can not only lead the nation in many farm products, but support a growing economy with many jobs in the ag sector. Now, if only we could do something about all that snow…

-Sara

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3 comments

  1. Great blog post, Sara. Very informative. I grew up in southern Manitoba near the North Dakota border and we spent a lot of time in Minnesota. Great state and so many ties to agriculture.

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