Over 80 people came out to the Starbuck Community Center in western Minnesota on a balmy March evening to hear presentations from University of Minnesota meteorologist and climatologist Mark Seeley as well as staff and farmer-members of Land Stewardship Project’s Community Based Food Systems and Farm Beginnings programs.
The focus of the event was climate change, and how LSP and its members are working to implement more resilient food and farming systems in order to mitigate damaging effects on our land and water. LSP’s Ag Land Solutions Outreach Specialist Andy Marcum related successes with perennial grazing systems and cover cropping in the Chippewa River Watershed, and Tyler Carlson, a recent Farm Beginnings graduate and Journeyperson Program participant, touted the benefit of information and connections he’s made through the course while discussing the difficulties faced by beginning farmers looking to access land.
Seeley’s presentation focused on the trends Minnesotans are seeing across the state, with average temperatures and severe storms on the increase. Of great concern were the dramatic swings between flood and drought, with 2012 federal disaster assistance reports indicating that in some areas of the state, the two calamities coincided at the same time in counties literally right next door to each other. As dew points increase, the severity of storms has too, with southern Minnesota experiencing three “1,000-year” rainfall events in the last four years, according to Seeley.
In his closing remarks, Seeley indicated the need for people to get past the political aspects of climate change and to start talking about mitigation strategies that may help current populations to better “weather the storm” and to help slow the rate of change for future generations.
A light soup and bread supper was prepared by chef Don Sorby, including locally sourced beef, produce, bread and rolls, and dairy from Prairie Horizon Farm, the Farm of Minnesota, Lismore Colony Garden Center, Kalliroe, Prairie Drifter Farm, Dough-Nuts Bakery, The Coyote Grange, Kadejan Market and the Granary Food Co-op.