Happy Dancing Turtle Blog

We will bring you stories and articles that will educate, entertain, and inspire.

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Posted by on in Environmental Stewardship

From the beginning, Happy Dancing Turtle has been a strong proponent of local and sustainable food production. We believe that knowing your farmer and how your food is grown is vital to ensuring food security, supporting rural economic development, and for the health of the entire community; the people, land, water, and air.

With this mission in mind, imagine our excitement when we were recently contacted by Chuck and Lynn Welte, owners of Pine River Family Market who are looking to access more local, fresh produce for their store. A recent customer survey revealed that shoppers wanted access to more local food and they are looking to fill that need. 

If you are a grower who is interested in selling produce locally, please contact Pine River Family Market at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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Posted by on in Environmental Stewardship

The first session of our "Feast, Film, & Forum" series took place last night with lots of good questions and discussion. The night started with a potluck dinner with dishes ranging from vegetarian chili to BBQ chicken wings. Quinn S. made a delicious kale and apple cake (with butter-apple frosting), and someone (me) found out that clementines taste very good when paired with chocolate squares. 


The participants then sat down for an engaging movie titled, "The Greenhorns." It focused on the recent trend of young entrepreneurs choosing to begin a career in food production. Ranging from southern livestock farms to cheese shops in New York City, the video did a good job of bringing the point home that all people eat but the system the US government has in place is not satisfying the need to eat well. In response, the upswing of new farmers are choosing to utilize organic systems. The film didn't go into the debate of whether it is good or bad to promote this practice, but it did offer up an encouraging and promising feeling; a feeling that these young people are doing hard work for (what they see as) the right reasons. 


Following the film, Abbie and Luke from B & B FarmCo and Lance and Robyn of Brakstad Green Acres took time to answer questions concerning their new farms. At less than five years each, each family is just beginning their farming careers, but according to Robyn, "Farming is in our family's blood." 

Lance and Robyn raise Jersey beef steers, bale and sell hay, make maple syrup, wine, and grow vegetables on their over 300 acre farm. They try to maintain a smaller herd of cattle because they only use grazing, with zero injections to increase muscle growth. With 70 acres dedicated to rotational grazing, the herd has to necessarily be smaller. However, they average around 5-6 steers sold per month. 

Abbie and Luke have a smaller 13 acre farm, but are focusing on secondary products such as goats milk soap and lotion from the many goats they raise. They also raise cows, horses, pigs, and chickens. 

For more information on the two farms, you can go to B&B FarmCo. and Brakstadgreenacres.com

The next session of our "Feast Film & Forum" series will be Thursday, March 20 with the topic "Local Foods". There will be a panel of local growers from around the area. So, you've got two weeks to see if you can keep pace with Quinn's cake. See you then!

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Posted by on in Food & Water Security

It's been pretty cold up here in Central MN. After a string of bitterly cold weeks with temps only reaching above zero a few times, it's finally taken it's toll on the city's infrastructure. Last week, Brainerd Public Utilities asked it's users to run a faucet of cold water at all times to prevent the main water line from freezing up. This isn't unprecedented, apparently, but it's the first time I've seen it in my life. 

So, I've been running a "pencil width size" stream of water in our laundry room bathroom. (BPU say they'd adjust the cost of the water use in my bill). After a few hours, I went to check on the sink and found the water not running. I thought to myself, "Running the water isn't doing anything!" But, I found that it had simply been shut off. I resumed the stream and left a note telling my family why the water was running. 

Again, after several hours, I went to go check on the faucet and yet again, it had been shut off. I started to look for the little gremlins that turned it off and eventually found one. My teenage daughter told me she had done it, that it was wasting water. I asked if she had read the note by the sink. She had, but then told me that she dove into the internet to find more information. After looking into it, she believes that our family uses enough water on our end to keep up with any freezing in the main line. Since we have a large family (nine people under one roof, I'll have you know) she may have a good point. 

The little rambling anecdote helps best to illustrate what I think is happening to our youth; kids are beginning to understand the resources on Earth are not limitless. Maybe all we need is a little time (or a few generations) to understand that we are just caretakers of our environment and that unless we start to put a larger effort into environmental education, we are (in the great words of George Carlin) *going to be in a lot of trouble*. (His language is above the G rating of this blog.)

So, in that vein I've looked at a few different sites and found some fun, educational water games that your children can play.

1) The Water Family

In this cute flash animated game, you can place your family in a pretend cartoon home. You can learn about how much water any given activity in your day will use. With this in mind, it gives you different tips on how to improve your water consumption. Activities range from washing the dishes to bathing. There's a ton of little easter eggs that your kids will probably dig into this one. 

2) Test Your WaterSense 

Test Your WaterSense is a fun Pac-Man clone that asks you to make your way around the pipes without running into the "Water Wasters." The goal is to get the highest score and the quickest way to do that is to answer water related questions. Your kids will love it. 

3) Mission H2O

This game is a fun little thing that highlights all the different ways that water is being wasted. There are eight mini-games that you can play that have instructional videos which are pretty funny. You're older kids will enjoy this game. They can even win prizes. Try it out. 

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