Time to reap the harvest … ‘Local Foods’ tour put Pelican growers, retailers on display

By Brent Frazer City of Pelican Rapids 

In 1965 a rock group called The Byrds recorded a number one song entitled “Turn! Turn! Turn!” This hit song was based on the words from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

The beginning lyrics of this song are as follows; “To everything–Turn,Turn,Turn. There is a Season–Turn, Turn, Turn. And a time to every purpose under Heaven. A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap.”

All of the song’s lyrics hold so very much truth in our everyday lives, and today we will focus on planting and reaping.

The cropping season of 2021 included its many ups and downs. The soil was tilled, the seeds were planted, the weather conditions were hot & dry, the gardener watered and crops were harvested with various results. 

Some yields were low, some were mediocre and in a few instances the yield was high as it all depended on location, location, location.

Farm market became new downtown “attraction”

This past June we witnessed the birth of the Pelican Market in downtown Pelican Rapids. A community amenity which was planned for the summer of 2022, but by fast tracking volunteer efforts it was delivered one year early.

This venture proved to be a successful business of area vendors who gathered to display and sell their garden produce, domestic flowers, delicious baked goods, pasture raised bison, jams & jellies, orchard fruit and hand crafts.

And what a success it became each Friday afternoon.

Yes, this past Friday the Pelican Market season came to a close, and will lead to more success in 2022. 

Approximately 20 vendors and as many as 200 shoppers brought an increased energy level to Pelican , not only in the buying & selling of goods, but in a fellowship of smiles and handshakes.

The Pelican Market was one of ten sites which was included in the Local Foods Local Places Walking Tour on October 16, 2021.

On this crisp and sunny morning, under the guidance and knowledge of Emily Reno of West Central Initiative, twelve garden minded people met at Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) to begin a two hour guided walking tour. Folks from Morris, Fergus Falls, Little Falls and Pelican Rapids gathered to learn about food and create new friendships.

A cooperative growing, retail effort at Lake Region

At LREC we viewed the indoor Hydroponic Farming Grow Shed. Under ideal growing conditions, we learned of the growing and harvesting of lettuce, peppers and other produce. These crops are harvested at their ideal size and then made available for the consumer at Larry’s Super Market. 

At the Pelican Rapids Public Library we learned of the many gardening and cook books which are available for the novice and master gardener and meal planner. We were also told of needs and desires for a commercial kitchen in our community, of which is planned at the former Senior Citizen Center. 

Commercial kitchen a goal for Senior Center 

Currently the Senior Center does not meet handicapped compliance so the planning and architectural design is needed to move this proposed project forward. This facility can then be the cooking & canning site for the “Cottage Food” producer, as well as a community center and restroom site for the Bicycle Trail System Headworks.

At the DAWO HALAL Market we learned of the beef, camel, goat and chicken meat available for sale, along with other dry and dairy products. And upon leaving this market we were gifted with a cup of delicious Chai tea.

At the Pelican Food Shelf we learned of the opportunity for area residents, who are in need of food products, to visit this facility when the need arises. Fresh produce has been available at the Food Shelf in the past and hopefully into the future. 

The Welcome Place location provides personal and family resources for many clientele. Their mission is to “Strengthen Community Relationships and Improve the Health and Well-being of People.” From family development, to life style changes, to language interpretation, the Welcome Place, along with OAKS (which is located at the Pelican Valley Heath Center) are here to provide services to the elderly in our community.

Visits included Susans, Mexican market, Mercantile

At the Brown Eyed Susans we were told of the indoor & outdoor produce counters as well as the crafts and fresh-cut flowers for purchase.

At the La Mariposa Market we learned of the history of this grocery store and its’ transition to Pelican. It is a well-known grocery store that is frequented by shoppers from Fergus Falls, Fargo, Detroit Lakes, Perham and Pelican. Upon exiting this store we were treated with mouth-watering sweet candy.

At the Mercantile on Main we were told of this cooperative’s history and the retail items from; crafts, flatbread, honey, eggs, cheese, jams, jellies, Lefse, steaks and hamburger.

Community garden toured 

Our final stop took us to the Pelican Rapids Community Gardens. A total of 25-30 irrigated garden plots were available this past growing season. Many different growing techniques are currently used by families of different cultures. Several of these crops are harvested during the growing season and many pounds of produce are donated to the Food Shelf.

The 2021 growing season may have had its ups and downs, but it brought brainstorming, virtual meetings, sales, food to the table, the act of sharing with others, new friendships and agricultural growth.

Yes, it is food that once again brings family, friends and visitors together. The concept of a Local Foods Local Places project in Pelican Rapids may have been a dream of the past, but is a living and flourishing reality today. 

As we now finalize the results of the 2021 growing season and put away our garden tools, we soon will be paging through the new seed catalogs and dream of the 2022 growing season.

So then we continue to sing; “A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap.”