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Open houses and local foods--U of M Day of celebration

The semi-annual Pride of the Prairie Local Foods Meal and Farmers Market is always a reason to celebrate, but the event this spring semester is a four-fold festivity. Scheduled for Tuesday, February 23, the 2010 Celebration event includes a rare winter opportunity to restock your pantry with the best foods from the prairie, enjoy a delicious local foods community dinner, AND celebrate the 10th year of the Pride of the Prairie Local Foods Initiative the 50th anniversary of UMM's opening and the 100th anniversary of the West Central School of Agriculture (WCSA) and Experiment Station founding.

"As a founding partner in the Pride of the Prairie Local Foods Initiative, UMM pays tribute to our inheritance as an American Indian boarding school and an agricultural boarding high school. We want to live in a way that respects the land and the people who raise our food," says Sandy Olson Loy, vice chancellor for student affairs. "As we spend our food dollars locally, we're building a stronger community and eating fabulous fresh, nutritious meals. Students learn about and celebrate our place on the prairie. On February 23, we invite our local community to celebrate with us."

The Farmers' Market will be held in Oyate Hall in the Student Center from 1:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. The event allows the campus and the community to purchase locally grown foods directly from area farmers and meet leaders of organizations that support local foods efforts.

From 1 until 7 p.m., visit the renovated West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) addition and office. Although the West Central School of Agriculture closed in 1963, the WCROC continues the Experiment Station's mission and legacy. From 2:30 until 5:30 p.m., attend the open house at the newly renovated UMM Welcome Center.

The grand finale of the day, the Pride of the Prairie Local Foods Meal, will be served from 4:45 until 7 p.m. in the Food Service building, across Second Street from the Regional Fitness Center. The meal features favorites from the first nine years of Pride of the Prairie community dinners: Black Bean and Corn Salad, Lemon Chick Pea Salad, Rosemary Vegetable Ragout, Herb Roasted Sweet and Red Potatoes, Wild Rice and Corn Fritters, Sausage and Peppers, Winter Vegetable Quiche, Buffalo Stew with Herb and Cheese Biscuits, Apple Strawberry Crisp, Apple Cider, and Milk.

Foods for the meal come from farms and growers as close to Morris as possible. The last treasured fruits from Steve's Strawberries and chickpeas from the USDA North Central Soil Conservation Research Lab in Morris are closest to home. The menu also features black beans from Life Design Organics, Hancock sausage from Pastures A' Plenty Farm, Kerkhoven, buffalo from J & L Bison, Willmar flour from Dry Weather Creek Farm, Milan and honey from Honey and Herbs, Benson. Pride of Main Street Dairy will provide milk and butter from small dairy farms near Sauk Centre, and Forest Mushrooms, St. Joseph, will provide mushrooms. Hand harvested and roasted wild rice comes from Native Harvest, a program of the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Callaway.

The community dinner also features musicians from the prairie: The Shy Acoustics, Russel Weikle, and Home Made Jam. Surrounded by local history and supporting local farmers and growers, the Pride of the Prairie Farmers' Market and Local Foods Meal celebrate the gathering of people--around local, sustainable, healthy foods.