Hand-ground and homemade tortillas were created, and served “garden style” at the Deep Roots Festival at Milt’s Barn—north of Pelican Rapids, on Sept. 11. Pictured, Marissa Nicol, left, and Maya Ramos.
Taking the green grass “stage” at Milt’s Barn for the Deep Roots Festival Sept. 11 was the cast from the Sod House Theater, and the “Arla Mae’s Booyah Wagon” show. The performance delighted the audience of more than 100, with its humorous script and message—promoting local food and produce.
Character Arla Mae, with a canoe paddle she uses for stirring her secret recipe “booyah” drew many laughs at the Deep Roots Festival. The traveling troupe has been performing “Arla Mae’s Booyah Wagon” throughout Minnesota. The subject matter of the script is humorous, with a message advocating locally grown farm products.
Deep Roots Festival events Sept. 11 were both family oriented—and pet friendly. Between the farm tours and the finale music-food-theater activities at Milt’s Barn Sept. 11. Pictured, Delmar Hayner greeting one of the friendly critters.
Posing for a photo are some of the Pelican Rapids area folks who have been involved in the “Local Foods, Local Places” initiative and the Deep Roots Festival event.
Pictured at the Milt’s Barn event center grounds, from top, Judy Tabbut, represting Pelican retailers; Emily Reno, West Central Initiative who has helped implement the Local Foods program; Lily Sugimura, who worked most of this year at the “Welcome Place” on the local foods program; Pelican Mayor Brent Frazier; Ryan Pesch, Lida Farms and Sustainable Farming Association; and Ellie Litzinger, who is just starting as a Green Corps representative in Pelican.
Ryan Pesch said that the sustainable farming advocates in the region hope to make it an annual event.

Deep Roots Fest served up sustainable ag advocacy—along with a helping of fun

Alternative agriculture took center stage, and was a centerpiece at the picnic table, at the Deep Roots Festival Sept. 11. 

Food, gardening, farming topics are a “uniting” component in a time of political and ideological division. Everybody’s got to eat, whether liberal or conservative.

That was one of the messages dished up by Ryan Pesch, a grower at Lida Farms and a leader in the “Local Foods, Local Places” movement.

“It’s a weird time in America…people don’t like each other,” said Pesch, at Milt’s Barn event center, where about 200 gathered for the various Deep Roots events over the course of the afternoon and evening. 

As an active member of the Lake Agassiz Chapter of the Sustainable Farming Association, Pesch has ultra conservative and ultra liberal growers. But they have something in common: “They all love sustainable agriculture…Food helps bring us all together,” said Pesch. 

“It doesn’t matter your political viewpoints…this is about celebrating farming.”

The diversity of the area “food movement” was evident during the events, with young and old, families and even the music. Performing what was perhaps the first formally staged presentation of Jewish “Kremser” music in Otter Tail County was Zachery Paige, a clarinet player of Jewish descent from Long Island, New York. He owns and operates North Circle Seeds (Vergas), and was one of Pesch’s former alternative agriculture students. His specialty seed operation; the Ellison Northcroft Sheep Farm, and Pesch’s Lida Farms were tour stops during the Deep Roots Festival. 

“Playing in the dirt” is how Pesch described his passion for sustainable, local farm enterprise. “This is the kind of stuff that motivates me.”

The new Pelican Rapids Farmers Market, which continues downtown through September, is one of the initiatives that Pesch helped spearhead. The market exceeded expectations, attracting about 15 growers and vendors over the season, and a customer count ranging from 100 to 150. The markets are Fridays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

Pelican Rapids benefitted from a federal “Local Foods, Local Places” grant, which has further enhanced the local food movement. West Central Initiative, the Chamber of Commerce and the city of Pelican have also been supportive in various capacities. 

A highlight of Festival was a cleverly written and staged performance by the Sod House Theater, which has been touring Minnesota. “Arla Mae’s Booyah Wagon” was a humorous show, created to bring attention to eating locally produced food, local farmers and the power that food has to bring communities together. The Arla Mae character claims to have launched Minnesotas first “food truck,” and the show evolves from her use of primarily canned and processed ingredients for her “booyah” recipe—to farm fresh, locally grown produce. 

An informal dinner and live music closed out the day, including the Klezmaniacs and area favorite, Tickwood String Band. 

A farm-to-table taco dinner was served at Milt’s Barn, with hand made tortillas—from hand-ground corn. 

PHOTOS BY LOUIS HOGLUND AND JULIE MARTIN