Action Alert

Fair trade or free trade? Let your voice be heard on Minnesota’s future!

The Obama Administration is negotiating two new mega trade deals (one with Pacific Rim countries, another with Europe) entirely in secret, with the goal of further expanding the NAFTA-model of free trade. These trade agreements could have major impacts on Minnesota's farmers, workers, small business owners and rural communities. They could limit Minnesota’s ability to support local food and energy systems and grow local businesses. In order to stay up to speed, Minnesota has set up a new Trade Policy Advisory Council (TPAC) to advise the state legislature and Governor.

TPAC wants to hear from Minnesotans: What concerns do you have about free trade? What role could TPAC play in the future? Now is your opportunity to have a say in our future trade policy. Complete the survey and let them know future trade negotiations should be public, not secret. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard in the development of trade agreements and that they protect local control and our quality of life. The free trade model has failed for Minnesota and we need a new approach to trade. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard before trade agreements are completed, and that they protect local control, our natural resources and our quality of life.

Please take five minutes and complete the survey. To find out more about these trade agreements, go to

Review: Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works

Posted April 6, 2012 by Dale Wiehoff   

Many of us can remember that moment while eating fresh broccoli, sweet corn or kale and we were struck by how incredibly delicious vegetables taste. It is as if we were eating vegetables for the first time in our lives. In Atina Diffley’s new book, Turn Here Sweet Corn, we learn what it takes to produce that sort of vegetable—the hard work, the love of the land, the capacity for taking risk, and the joys and pains of a farm family.

Read from one perspective, the book is a chronicle of Atina Diffley’s life so far. She paints a portrait of a farm girl with a fierce independent streak, longing to get away, but also longing to farm. As an adventurous young woman, she leaves home, pursues music, marries unhappily, has a child, is introduced to the world of food co-ops, falls in love, and begins a very interesting and challenging life raising organic food with her husband Martin Diffley. Throughout, she draws on the strength of her roots, and nurturing those roots becomes a metaphor that sustains her story.

From another perspective, this is the story of Atina’s relationship with her husband Martin. From her descriptions of falling in love to their conversations decades later, Diffley gives the reader a picture of a true partnership. The Diffleys are fifth generation farmers whose lives and farms are an important piece of our region’s history, of its development from a frontier settlement to a metropolis. Everyone on the family farm had a job, of course; growing up, Martin was the “gardener,” the one who grew vegetables. To Martin, gardening means loving the land more than loving farming.

Looked at it yet another way, this is the story of Gardens of Eagan, which Martin and Atina built and nurtured over many years, and which the Wedge Co-op bought in 2008. When Martin was starting out, organic was virtually unknown; Diffley recounts a funny story of the market manager at the Minneapolis Farmers Market putting up a sign for Martin’s stall that read, “Gardens of Eagan Organatic Vegetables.” The story of Gardens of Eagan is one of learning and stewardship, seeing the connections in all things. It is also a story rife with calamity and struggle: crop failure, pesticide drift, drought, loss, development, hail, oil pipelines. Through it all, the Diffleys are resolute and resilient, as is the land they tend.

In fact, this is quite simply a tale of intimacy with the land, told by one of the pioneers of the modern organic movement. Along the way, it raises interesting questions about the financial viability of farming, and paints a pretty stark picture of the reality of that life. But it leaves no doubt about what it means to truly know and love and care for the land that produces our food.

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