Hungry Turtle’s Anticipating Spring Weekend

Courtesy of Brett Laidlaw
Courtesy of Brett Laidlaw

The farm-to-table learning hub that is the Hungry Turtle Institute in Amery, Wisconsin is hosting a bushel of food-focused events to anticipate and celebrate spring. The event series runs this weekend (March 13-14), and includes music, book signings, a seed starting demonstration, meals at the Farm Table restaurant, and a maple madness cookoff.

The Farm Table, which features seasonal produce from small local farms, is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner both Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

If you’re interested in taking part, you can register here; a full listing of events and food opportunities follows, taken from the Hungry Turtle website.

7-8 p.m.: Book signing with Paula Westmoreland and Lansing Shepard (Free Event)
Paula Westmoreland will discuss and sign copies of her 2010 book This Perennial Land: Third Crops, Blue Earth and the Road to a Restorative Agriculture. The book provides a vision for restoring ecological health to Midwest corn and soybean country.

Paula Westmoreland grew up on a farm in northwestern Iowa. In the 1990s she became concerned about the loss of biological diversity and returned to school, getting an MLS at the University of Minnesota in ecology and sustainable agriculture.  In 2000 she started EcologicalGardens and in 2003 co-founded the Permaculture Research Institute Cold Climate. Over the last 15 years she has designed and implemented hundreds of urban and rural permaculture installations.

8 p.m.: Music in the Gallery (Free)
Amy Johnson, singer-guitarist

*In addition to the events taking place at the Amery Food Hub, there will be a gallery opening at the Northern Lakes Center for the Arts, 113 Elm St W, Amery, WI.  The exhibit features several local artists.

All events will be held at the Amery Food Hub, 110 Keller Ave, Amery, WI 54001

MORNING: Family Friendly sessions — Free
9 a.m.-10:20 a.m.: Seed starting demonstration / talk with Cris Cantin

Winter nights don’t seem so long or dreary when you have a stack of seed catalogs to shuffle through, dreaming of gardens flush with vegetables or bursting with colorful blooms. Starting your own seeds indoors is a great way to cheat winter and get a head start on the growing season. It also allows you access to unusual and heirloom vegetable varieties you might not find as seedlings at garden centers. Veteran gardener Cris Cantin will lead us through the whole process of indoor seed starting, from selecting the best seed catalogs for various kinds of plants, to the proper procedures for planting seeds both large and small, and keeping the plants healthy and thriving, right up to the point of planting our seedlings in the garden.

Crystal Liepa / Heavy Table
Crystal Liepa / Heavy Table

Master Gardener Cris Cantin (Prairie Farm, Wis.) serves as the food and community projects coordinator for the Hay River Transition Initiative (HRTI), and has taught for several years at the annual HRTI Traditional & Green Skills Event. She has organized community projects including the PrairieFarmCommunityGarden, Hay River Seed Library, and the annual seed and plant swaps.  Cris intensively cultivates her ¼-acre homestead (affectionately known as the Farmlette), growing a whopping 70 percent of her annual food needs. When she isn’t working, her day job as an educational audiologist or digging in the garden, Cris can usually be found under a pile of seed catalogs. Follow her adventures on her blog:

10:30 a.m. to noon: Birds and birding in Wisconsin with Brian Collins and Matt Berg

Biologists, teachers, and avid birders, Brian and Matt have spent years studying the avifauna — i.e., “our feathered friends” — of northern Wisconsin.  They’ll lead us through an engaging examination of what birds you’re likely to see in the Wisconsin wilderness — and your own backyard — as winter wanes and the spring migrations begin.  They’ll give special attention to the spectacular journeys that many birds undertake each spring and fall — lifestyles of the feathered and migratory, if you will.  They will also talk about how the choices we make about land use and management, and various farming practices, can be a benefit — or detriment — to birds and other wildlife.

Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table
Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

Brian M. Collins is a high school biology teacher. He has worked with various organizations to conduct bird community surveys in Puerto Rico, along the floodplain forests of the Mississippi River, and throughout the public lands of Wisconsin.  He continues to do annual bird surveys for Wisconsin’s Natural Heritage Inventory and for land trusts and lake associations. The annual June bird surveys keep him connected to current science and bring opportunities to his students.

Matt Berg earned a Masters in Biology specializing in breeding bird communities and habitat restoration from the UW Eau Claire in 2004. He has conducted bird and habitat surveys for the Wisconsin and Minnesota departments of natural resources, among others. From 2008 through 2011 he worked with the Bayfield County Forestry Department to analyze the impacts of their forestry practices on over 150,000 acres of land with the goal of maximizing habitat potential for all wildlife while maintaining a sustainable harvest of timber. He teaches biology in Grantsburg, Wis. and is the lead biologist at Endangered Resource Services, LLC, a private consulting company that specializes in habitat assessment and population studies of rare species.

Lori Writer / Heavy Table
Lori Writer / Heavy Table

AFTERNOON: An Afternoon of March Maple Madness — $15 (children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult).

1 p.m.-2:30 p.m.: Maple syrup demonstration and cookbook talk
with Modern Maple author Teresa Marrone

While the term “March madness” is often associated with a certain annual college basketball tournament, for many folks in Northern Wisconsin, March madness is all about the annual ritual of maple sugaring — tapping our native acer species trees for sap, boiling that sap down to concentrated sweetness, and bottling it to savor through the year. Maple syrup is a true delicacy of our region, and one of the few wild foods most people consume on a regular basis. Noted cookbook author and wild foods expert Teresa Marrone explored every aspect of maple syrup cookery for her book Modern Maple, and she’ll share that culinary journey with us. Liberating the syrup bottle from the breakfast table, Teresa has created recipes incorporating maple into a wide range of dishes, from salad dressings to meat marinades, vegetable dishes, condiments, and even pizza.

Becca Dilley/Heavy Table
Becca Dilley/Heavy Table

Teresa will give a demonstration on the basics of tapping maple trees for sap, and will be available to sign copies of Modern Maple, which will be for sale during the event.

Modern Maple was the second title published in the Northern Plate series from the Minnesota Historical Society Press, single-topic cookbooks that celebrate the bounty of the Upper Midwest.  Teresa Marrone is also the author of numerous other books about food and flora in the upper Midwest, including Abundantly Wild, an essential guide to finding and preparing a wide range of wild foods. Her most recent books are Mushrooms of the Upper Midwest: A Simple Guide to Common Mushrooms, and The Beginner’s Guide to Making and Using Dried Foods. She puzzles and astounds the neighbors in the spring by tapping the two maple trees in her South Minneapolis front yard.

3 p.m.-5 p.m.: Maple Madness Cook-Off: Cooking Demos and Tastings of Maple-Inspired Delicacies from Food Hub Chefs
with Moderators Sylvia Burgos-Toftness and Teresa Marrone

Chefs from the Amery Food Hub vie for maple-y supremacy in Amery’s own culinary coliseum, the HTI kitchen. Really, it’s all for fun, as each chef prepares an original dish showcasing maple syrup’s versatility in both sweet and savory recipes. Each dish will be shared with attendees to savor all the flavor that maple syrup can impart. You will take away recipes for all the dishes prepared during this event. The event will be moderated by rancher and glamorous radio host Sylvia Burgos-Toftness and color commentary by maple maven, Teresa Marrone.

Courtesy of Hungry Turtle Institute
Courtesy of Hungry Turtle Institute

Sylvia and her husband Dave Toftness run Bull Brook Keep, 72 rolling acres near Amery where they raise 100 percent grass-fed beef. Sylvia also hosts Deep Roots Radio (Saturday mornings, 9-9:30 a.m.), a show that strives to connect the dots between what we eat and how it’s grown. Sylvia chats with farmers, ranchers, teachers and scientists, chefs, authors, policymakers and film makers about why they’re committed to sustainable agriculture and delicious, healthful foods. The show is broadcast and streamed live from the studios of WPCA Radio, 93.1 FM, Amery, Wis.

5 p.m.- 8 p.m.: Music in the Gallery
Featuring the Camp Dogs.

Grab a glass of wine, a beer, or a dessert from Farm Table, and join us in the gallery for local musicians, The Camp Dogs.