Roots Road Trip: Big Stone Lake

I’ve decided that August is my favorite month.  In South Dakota, August is when the stormy summer weather tends to clear up giving us more sunny days.  Gardens are full, flowers are in bloom, and the prairie is green and lush.  My husband and I think it’s a great time for traveling.  Since we’re both in grad school, our budget doesn’t allow for nearly as much travel as we’d like at the moment, but there are plenty of places to see closer to home.  Last August we had a great time across the Canadian border in Winnipeg.  And in August 2008, we ventured to Big Stone Lake in northeast South Dakota.

Fellow (and much more prolific!) blogger Rebecca Terk of Flying Tomato Farms recently announced that she’s about to leave Vermillion, SD, and head to Minnesota as the Healthy Foods Organizer in Big Stone County, MN.  South Dakota’s loss will definitely be Minnesota’s gain, and we can all look forward to great things from Rebecca in this job.

Since I haven’t yet posted about our August ’08 road trip to Big Stone Lake, this is the perfect time to highlight the beautiful geography of the area where Rebecca’s headed.  She’ll live and work a little to the north of the spot we explored, but the whole area is worth the trip.  We camped at Hartford Beach State Park on the South Dakota side of Big Stone Lake.

I have to scratch my head a bit every time I travel through this area.  It’s such a stunning place, that I’m a little surprised it didn’t end up more populated.  In fact, South Dakota Magazine named it one of the state’s 10 most naturally beautiful places, and I wholeheartedly agree.  With a pioneer grave site, an old log cabin trading post, Indian burial mounds, and a prehistoric village site, it has plenty of history, too.

Click here for more photos of Big Stone Lake and Hartford Beach State Park.

A couple of related links:
Land Stewardship Project
A View From Here:  Resettling Big Stone County  Minnesota

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First Beer Flight Night Coming to Madison

Friday, May 14

7:30 p.m.

Mochavino in Madison, SD


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Madison Coffee Shop Reopening as Coffee/Wine Bar

UPDATE:  Mochavino opens Saturday, March 20 at 100 S Egan Ave in Madison, SD.

I’ve been a big fan of third places since I stepped foot in my first coffeehouse about 17 years ago (the sadly defunct Your House for Coffee on East 10th in Sioux Falls) and around the same time got ahold of Ray Oldenburg’s book The Great Good Place at SDSU’s Briggs Library. More recently, Mike Knutson over at Reimagine Rural has written some great blog posts on third places. This one, in particular, is important reading for small town leaders. Wondering what a third place is? Go read Mike’s post now!

Last fall, when I saw the “Business for Sale” sign posted on the window of Madison’s own third place, I wasn’t happy. Fortunately, a young couple with local ties weren’t happy about Madison losing its coffee shop either.  Jenny and Shaun Bader are now hard at work transforming the former Common Grounds into Mochavino, a coffee and wine bar, that will open very soon.  Jenny graciously agreed to a recent email interview about the new place.  Here’s what she had to say:

First, can you tell us a little bit about you and your husband? Where did you grow up (you’re from Madison, right?) go to school, etc.

Yes I am from around here, I grew up in Ramona. After graduation I moved to Sioux Falls and  attended Stewarts School of Hairstyling and was a cosmetologist for five years. In the past few years I also created a direct selling jewelry company called Jenica Jewelry.  This business venture has been my full time job and I have been designing jewelry for about five years. Shaun is a Network Engineer and is originally from Aberdeen, SD.  He moved to Sioux Falls and attended SETI where he obtained his Network Administration and PC Support degree in 2000.  He has been working in his field of study ever since.  He is currently employed at the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists in St Paul, MN and also owns an IT Consulting Company called SB Net Techs.

How did you get the idea for Mochavino–combining coffee and wine in one shop?

Coffee and wine bars are common place in the Twin Cities and seem to be very popular amongst all age groups.  With this in mind, we thought it would be great to bring such a popular meeting place to the Madison area.

Do you have some favorite places that were models for Mochavino?

There are coffee and wine bars in the Twin Cities, but we are placing our own special twists and incorporating some youthful décor.  Shaun also brews his own beer and we are planning on serving our own brews and becoming Madison’s first microbrewery within the next year or so.

What changes will you be making to the shop (besides adding wine and changing the name)?

We added beer as well as wine. We also changed all sandwiches, added breakfast sandwiches, appetizers, and a small kids’ menu.

Do you plan to have live music?

We would love to.  We just need to find people who would be interested in doing acoustic sets, piano/keyboard, singing, or whatever comes along.  We are very open for suggestions and invite anyone interested to inquire within.

When do you plan to open? Will you have any special events to kick off your opening?

We are hoping to open just after the middle of March.  As for special events, we will have to wait and see…..  We have to keep some things a little bit suspenseful!

Were there things other than this business opportunity that drew you back to Madison?

We actually are not moving back at this time. We currently live in Burnsville, MN. We just hated to see the coffee shop leave Madison because we felt it was the type of business/meeting place this community needed.  Plus, keeping it open would help the economy by providing more jobs and another reason for people to go downtown.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We just want people to know that our vision and plan is to create an environment where people can come socialize and relax.  We want to provide an atmosphere that people will enjoy and talk about every time they visit and that they can’t wait to return to.  Good food, good drinks, and good company.


Jenny also told me she and Shaun would love to get feedback from people in the Madison area about you want to see in a coffee place. If you have comments and ideas, be sure to leave them here!

Photo credit:  Jen Kim – Flickr

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Heart & Soul

The Knight Foundation recently released the report of their 2008 Soul of the Community Study to find out just what creates the emotional ties people have to their communities…essentially, what inspires them to root themselves in a particular place. What did they find?

After interviewing close to 28,000 people in 26 communities over two years, the study has found that three main qualities bind people to place: social offerings such as entertainment venues and places to meet – the top factor in 21 of 26 communities, openness (how welcoming a place is) and the area’s aesthetics (its physical beauty and green spaces).

Aberdeen, SD, was one of the communities surveyed, but that isn’t the only reason South Dakotans should be interested the study’s findings. There’s plenty in the report for our state’s communities to consider as they plan for the future. Economic development groups, chambers of commerce, and other civic leaders need to take note of this study (I’m talking to you, Madison, SD!). There’s more than industry and jobs to consider when developing plans for growing our small towns.

Dig into all the information here:

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Online Public Participation: Wave of the More Creative, More Democratic Future

I just came across an intriguing idea that the Balitmore Office of Promotion and the Arts has been running for the last six months. In January, they used a Flickr photostream (FREE, by the way), the Baltimore Infill Survey, to upload a stock image of a vacant Baltimore lot between two derelict buildings. The photo is reprentative of many parts of the city that have seen a decline in population and subsequent problems in recent years.

The survey invites anyone anywhere to participate by downloading the stock image and creating another image illustrating an idea about how to revitalize the vacant lot and surrounding neighborhood. After participants have completed their images, they send them to BOPA, who then uploads them to the Flickr site.

BIS stock image, courtesy the Baltimore Infill Survey

BIS stock image, courtesy the Baltimore Infill Survey

Continue reading

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Ready for Primetime

UPDATE 5/21: Click here for the video!

Tune in to the 10:00 news on KSFY tonight for a feature story on Prairie Roots–the blog and the garden!

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2009 Garden Underway

Life has been a little hectic around our house over the past several months…hence the lack of regular Prairie Roots posting. My husband, Cory, was hard at work finishing his second year of a doctoral degree while working as a research and teaching grad assistant. I officially became a candidate for ordained ministry in the SD synod of the ELCA and was admitted to seminary for last fall. I delayed the start of my studies for one year, though, when an opportunity came up to be a part-time, interim youth director at my church for the rest of the ’08-’09 school year.

Cory and I were fortunate to be able to work our schedules around caring for our now three-year-old daughter so that one of us was always home with her (with grandma contributing some quality granddaughter time when our schedules conflicted). I juggled my part-time job with church council and Habitat for Humanity board responsibilities along with kid activities like toddler gym and weekly library visits.

So, it’s been a bit crazy, but a couple things are winding down. My youth director position ends this month, since we have a new youth and family minister in my congregation. And I’ll be scaling back a couple of my other activities as I head into the start of studies this fall (distributed learning through Luther Seminary, so I’ll take much of my coursework online from home). I’ll also be the main pre-school teacher for our daughter, since we’re taking care of that at home (but since she already knows her alphabet, most letter sounds, how to count from 1-20, colors, and most shapes, I’d say we’re already in pretty good shape on that front).

Of course, I’m also looking forward to a spring, summer, and fall working in this year’s garden, which is finally underway. I’ve been starting seeds–first onions, scallions, and leeks–since February. Then Brussles sprouts in March. I got tomatoes and peppers started in flats at the beginning of April, and transplanted them into larger containers earlier this month. Spinach got direct-seeded into a raised bed in March, and potatoes went in about two weeks ago.

I’m busy getting clean-up work done in the garden itself, including establishing a main pathway down the middle of the entire garden. I’m mulching the paths by first laying down several layers of newspaper, then covering the newspaper with wood chip mulch (sometimes adding a layer of old grass clippings underneath the wood chips.

Mulching history

Mulching history

I had quite a few seeds left over from last year but still ordered a bunch from Fedco Seeds this year. Here’s what I got:

Luscious Bicolor Sweet Corn
General Lee Slicing Cucumber
Waltham Butternut Squash
Yaya Carrot
Prisma Shallots
Space Spinach
Summer Lettuce Mix
Winter Lettuce Mix
Bright Lights Chard
Tres Fine Maraichere Endive
Gigante d’Italia Parsley
Safir Cutting Celery
Glacier Tomato
Cherokee Purple Tomato
Soldacki Tomato
Aunt Ruby’s German Green Tomato
Ruby Gold Tomato
Peacevine Cherry Tomato
Orange Banana Paste Tomato
Amish Paste Tomato
Sun Gold Cherry Tomato
Sweet Chelsea Cherry Tomato
Sweet Basil
Genovese Basil
Caribe Cilantro
Greek Oregano
Winter Savory
German Thyme
Sparky Mix French Dwarf Double Marigold
Tall Climbing Mix Nasturtium
Benary’s Giants Mix Zinnia
Gold Medal Mix Zinnia
Cutflower Mix
Beneficials Mix
Dark Red Norland Potato
German Butterball Potato
Carola Potato

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Brookings Benefit for Green

That’s “green” in both the financial and environmental senses. Heidi from Prairie Coteau Farm and Dakota Rural Action emailed recently with news about an Earth Day benefit taking place in Brookings next week:

DRA is hosting “An Evening of Green,” a fundraising dinner held on Earth Day (April 22nd) in Brookings. The event will be catered by our own Cottonwood Bistro, featuring fantastic locally-grown foods. The event will highlight the release of our 2009 South Dakota Local Foods Directory, and will also include a speaker who will talk about alternative energy and green design.

Check it out (click to enlarge):

DRA Evening of Green

And did you catch that website at the bottom of the poster? That’s the new “Green Brookings Revolution” wiki! It’s a great space for “anyone with an interest in keeping Brookings, South Dakota, green,” with listings of Earth Day events, Earth-friendly business, recycling info, and a local forum.

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