Since 1986, the Dakota Valley Symphony has performed concerts in parks, churches, schools, community centers and other public buildings throughout the south metro area. The organization was created to provide opportunities for skilled volunteer musicians to perform diverse music of all periods. The group also provides a forum for aspiring local composers to premiere their work. The symphony is comprised of a 60-member orchestra, a 40-member mixed chorus and a 90-member Summer Pops orchestra and chorus, all under the direction of founder and musical director Stephen J. Ramsey.
This Minneapolis musician is a member of the Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank. He’ll join us live in the studio on Friday, December 10 at 1pm to share tunes from his new solo EP. He plays a CD release show on Saturday, December 11 at 8pm at Beaner’s Central in Duluth.
For Some, The Garden Path Leads To Hunting And Fishing
Due to tough economic times and as knowledge about our chemical-laden food supply becomes more widespread, growing numbers of Americans seek out organic produce or
grow their own. In this edition of Points North, Shawn recalls gardening with his father and discusses the importance of getting new people involved in hunting and producing their own food.
For Some, The Garden Path Leads To Hunting And Fishing
Gardening on the North Shore is a perpetual test of endurance. Last
weekend, while squadrons of black flies circled around me, I dug
through the dirt in our gardens to pull out twine-like quack grass
roots and give my seeds and seedlings a head start on the weeds. This
time-consuming task must be completed before we can plant the gardens,
though the battle against weeds is never won. Quack grass and black
Our growing season is short. We never plant our vegetable gardens
before Memorial Day, following the tradition of my father, who
gardened for decades in Duluth. In most years, cold soils and the
likelihood of late frost makes earlier planting risky. On the other
end of the season, the risk of frost returns after Labor Day. Bugs,
weeds and old Jack Frost never deterred Dad. I endure them, too. As
with most outdoor activities, physical discomfort and weather-related
challenges are just part of the game.
Since I was always enlisted to help pout in Dad’s garden, I am
programmed to go fishing in April and May, then trade my fishing rod
for a garden tiller for a couple of weeks around Memorial Day. To some
of my angling friends, this is nothing short of heresy. So be it. They
may get in a few extra days of fishing, but they never have
garden-fresh vegetables and greens to serve with their catch. Growing
up, the line between fishing and gardening was blurred. Our home and
most others had a boat and a big garden in the backyard.
Not long ago, I heard someone say gardening was a female pursuit and
that male gardeners were somewhat of an oddity. This left me
scratching my head, because my father and his brother, as well as both
of my grandfathers, were avid gardeners, as were many of the women in
our family. To frame this in a modern perspective, you could say
gardening was part of our culture. It was taken for granted that the
family garden supplied most of our vegetables.
For my father’s generation, this was the way of the world. By the time
I was growing up, most folks bought their vegetables at the grocery
store. Gardens supplied fresh treats or pretty flowers to compliment
suburban landscaping. This was also around the time the term “hobby
farm” entered into our language.
Actually, the term “hobby farmer” would have applied to my father as
well. He didn’t raise vegetables out of necessity, but because he
enjoyed doing so. He also believed homegrown vegetables were better
for you than the ones you find at the store. It is fair to say both of
those beliefs have now come full circle.
In recent years, the people who keep track of such things have seen
growth in backyard gardening. While tough economic times are a likely
factor in this surge in gardening interest, it driven more by a
growing belief that what you grow yourself is good for you. As
knowledge about our chemical-laden food supply becomes more
widespread, growing numbers of Americans seek out organic produce or
grow their own. As my father would say, the most common chemical
additive to the backyard garden is the sweat off your brow.
It is fair to say the renewed interest in gardening is a pathway to
other outdoor activities. When you turn over a spadeful of garden
soil, you strengthen your connection to the natural world. So it is
only natural—pardon the pun—that gardeners become interested in other
ways to procure your own food, such as fishing, hunting and foraging
for wild edibles.
Recently, I read a mainstream newspaper story about how suburbanites
near Washington D.C. are taking up deer hunting. Since many have no
experience with hunting, they form small clubs with other like-minded
suburbanites so they can learn as they go. These new hunters are not
motivated by trophy bucks, spending time with their kids or any of the
traditional marketing spins used by the hunting industry. Instead they
realize abundant whitetails provide a ready source of healthy, low-fat
protein. One man said he became interested in hunting because he was
constantly dealing with deer in his garden. He decided those
vegetable-loving whitetails looked good enough to eat.
So far, the gardener-turned-hunter remains on the fringe of the
hook-n-bullet mainstream, perhaps because such pragmatic folk are
unlikely to show much interest in the gadgets, guided trips and
camo-clothing that are economic drivers for the hunting industry.
Still, their presence is not being entirely ignored. For example, the
keynote speaker at the annual conference for the Outdoor Writers of
America Association is Hank Shaw, who operates Hunter Angler Gardener
Cook (www.honest-food.net), a website devoted to growing and gathering
the food you eat. He will be introducing the nation’s outdoor writers
to a new, receptive audience for their work.
At a time when some worry about declining participation in hunting and
fishing, it is encouraging to see new recruits entering the ranks of
hunters and anglers. But these suburban gardeners are picking up
shotguns and fishing rods with practical expectations. They are not
looking to put a trophy on the wall or boast about how many fish
they’ve caught and released. Instead, they seek good, clean food.
Hopefully, as they acquire the necessary skills to shoot or catch
their dinner, they’ll grow to appreciate environment that provides
this bounty of food. As for me, I’m going fishing...after I finish my