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Ag briefs

MN Farmers Union to hold county conventions

The Minnesota Farmers Union, a membership-based organization, is offering county conventions to give members a chance to discuss county happenings and policy changes.

The general public is welcome to come see what the Farmers Union organization is all about. Area county conventions scheduled to date are as follows: East Otter Tail County, Sept. 27, 11 a.m. at the Lakes Café in Perham; Becker County, Oct. 18, 7 p.m. at the event center in Callaway.

For information contact Katie Pass, by phone at 612-616-5252, or by e-mail at: communication

Ag commissioner in St. Cloud, Crookston

To learn what's on the minds of farmers and others involved in Minnesota agribusiness, Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson will host a series of listening sessions around the state.

The Crookston listening session will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 24 from 7 to 8:30 a.m. at the Irishman Shanty, 1501 South Main Street.

The St. Cloud listening session will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 24 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce, 110 South Sixth Ave.

The informal discussions will touch on a range of topics including renewable fuels; food safety; and rising prices for food, fuel and other commodities.

"With all that is impacting agriculture, it is important to hear directly from farmers, small business owners, and others in northwestern and central Minnesota regarding the issues affecting our rural economy," Commissioner Hugoson said. "We welcome anyone who's interested to join us for this session."

Free coffee, juice and rolls will be provided at the Crookston session. For more information, please contact MDA's Brenda Fitzgerald at 651-201-6561 or Lori Wagner, with the Crookston Area Chamber of Commerce, at 1-800-809-5997.

Free box lunches will be available for those who register for the St. Cloud session by Monday, Sept. 22. To register, please call Brenda Fitzgerald at 651-201-6561.

Plant, pest clinics

Have a horticulture question? Ask one of the Becker County Master Gardeners during their plant and pest clinics from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 22 and 24 at the Becker County Human Services Building (3rd level). For more info, call 846-7328.

Find fun farm and

market activities this fall

Summer may be winding down, but Minnesota farms, wineries, orchards and markets have switched to full gear, with fun fall activities to offer.

-- Minnesota is home to about 20 wineries, many of which offer tastings of their award winning wines. Some even let you try your hand, or feet, at grape stomping.

The University of Minnesota has helped to develop grape varieties that make excellent wines. According to University developers, after initiating a breeding program in the mid-1980, they have grown to be recognized as one of the top wine grape programs in the United States. With a goal of developing high quality, cold-hardy and disease resistant grapes, the University has helped Minnesota's wine producers become recognized vintners.

-- There's no better time to pick up your favorite apples at one of Minnesota's apple orchards harvesting and selling popular Minnesota varieties such as Honeycrisp, Cortland, Zestar, Haralson, Regent and Fireside. There are more than 100 apple orchards you can visit to find your favorite variety.

-- That search for the "Great Pumpkin" can be accomplished at one of Minnesota's 143 pumpkin patches. Many offer a variety of activities from hayrides, corn mazes, fall festivals, petting zoos, raspberry picking and other family fun.

Minnesotans can easily find their local winery, apple orchard, pumpkin patch and more in the popular Minnesota Grown Directory. The 2008 directory includes almost 700 orchards, berry patches, garden centers and other places where consumers can buy direct from the farmer. Consumers can use the directory online at or order a free printed directory by calling 1-800-657-3878.