4-H Journey to the State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair means something different for everyone. Perhaps it brings back a memory of cheese curds, giant yellow slide, seed art, Miracle of Birth Center or great family memories.

For our family, it means a journey of continual learning in 4-H project areas that culminate with the opportunity to compete and learn from 4-Hers from across our state’s 87 counties. When I was a 4-Her, we were allowed to accept and take one state fair trip. I took my pig. Because going to the fair with an animal was simply way more fun than a general project area. This year, Keith was old enough and earned state fair trips by receiving high county fair placings in both a livestock and a general project area. He also judged with the county’s general livestock judging team.

Swine Project

The livestock project journey begins with selecting 4-H pigs earlier in the year. The boys select their pigs on their own based upon what they feel will match what the judge is looking for. During the summer months, they work with them so they walk the way you want them to in the show ring, feed them a balanced nutritional ration to grow the way you would like them to and care for the pig(s) so they reach their full potential.

Livestock projects allow our kids to learn through hands-on experiences. The livestock teach life lessons that are sometimes simply difficult to put into words. The animals become a steady companion throughout the growing cycle, that listen to them, teach patience and perseverance, compassion and loss, winning and losing, contentment and friendship, dedication and follow-through. There were many mornings before and after baseball tournaments that I found the boys working with their animals.

This all culminates at the state fair. 4-Hers participate in a species-specific interview, showmanship and the animal being judged.

Vegetable Gardening

The vegetable gardening project area begins with selecting varieties to plant to preparing harvests to occur at both the county fair in July and the state fair in August. This planning begins the season before and continues through the planting season.

Preparing the project items for the vegetable garden project to be taken to the fair takes a considerable amount of time. Consider harvesting all of the following: two small vegetables: 12 pea pods and 12 green beans (12 cherry tomatoes for the state fair); three medium sized vegetables: three carrots, three beets, three cucumbers and one large vegetable. If there is more than one, they need to be as close to identical as possible. Once harvested, the tops and bottoms need to be trimmed, and vegetables cleaned appropriately to display vibrantly. It is time consuming. For the project judging they need to know planting conditions, vegetable variety selection, challenges with the growing season and how to resolve them, pest control and health benefits of the vegetables and how to utilize the vegetables.

This is just a snippet of the two project areas that Keith took to the state fair. As parents and volunteer 4-H leaders, we learn so much by being on this journey with them and are so grateful for all the mentors that support their learning and personal growth. We are blessed beyond measure with the friendships and opportunities that 4-H provides to our family.

We encourage you to contact your county Extension office or search online for your 4-H in your area. It’s easy to say you don’t have time to squeeze in one more activity for your kids. Once you see them experience a project interview with an adult judge at the fair or the learning that occurs through the project area, you will understand that 4-H is worth your time and effort. Learn more here.

Garden Science

You may wonder about the story behind your personalized pumpkins. This project starts in August with Steve and the boys carefully etching your names into a pumpkin. The scar on the skin heals over forming the beautiful art.

Pick-Up and Delivery

Remember that pick-up and deliveries will be on the schedule you have arranged with Harner Brothers CSA – please note the exceptions to this which were in the email. Please follow the CDC and MDH guidelines and COVID-19 procedures.

It is your responsibility to know that the pick-up or drop-off time will occur at the agreed upon time, and it is your responsibility as a shareholder to know this and be responsible for the produce at that time. If you are unable to utilize your share that week, it is still your responsibility: find someone else to pick it up or donate it to the food shelf.

Each box is labeled for each family. The same boxes will be used for your family throughout the season. Boxes and containers should be returned the following week. Bags will only be used once.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list.

Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Beets – This beet crop has been fairly resilient through this crazy growing conditions. Enjoy beets by peeling and cutting into wedges. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or boil with the skin on for approximately 30 to 45 minutes or until tender. Eat with a dab of butter or in a salad. Check out the NDSU Pocket Guide to Preparing Fruits and Vegetables.

Carrots – The carrot crop in general has not liked the drought this year. Enjoy fresh or cooked. Try these brown sugar glazed carrots from Martha Stewart.

Cucumbers – The cucumbers have picked up and the second planting is doing well. If you are interested in pickling some we may have extra for you to do so. Here are a few cucumber ideas from Martha Stewart.

Peppers – A variety of peppers for you to chose from. Learn more about peppers from America’s Heartland.

Potatoes – Red Norland potatoes. Great for cooking on the grill, boiling or mashed. Learn more about how potatoes are harvested from America’s Heartland.

Onions – White Onions

Winter Squash Butternut, Kuri, Spaghetti and Carnival squash this week. Sorry to inundate you all at once. Remember that Butternut, Kuri and Carnival squash can be cooked and then frozen for use throughout the winter


Tomatoes – A few Fourth of July, yellow, cherry Sungold tomatoes. I love the size of the Fourth of July for a quick lunch, and the Sungolds. Let us know if you are interested in canning or freezing extra quantities. Enjoy the salsa this week! Let us know if you are interested in more.

Sam selected the area that he felt would grow the best watermelon. I think he did a good job! We hope you enjoy this delight.

Watermelon – Sam took on the role of growing the watermelons this year. We are so excited with the outcomes. Enjoy!

Pumpkins, Ornamental Corn and Corn Shocks – Enjoy some Fall decorations. More to come next week.

Recipe of the Week

Butternut Squash

My family loves this recipe, and the boys eat it like crazy. I also use the prepared squash in place of pumpkin in many recipes. Butternut

Cut squash in 1/2 add enough water to cover pan (about 1/2 inch up on the side of the pan).

Bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour.

Take out of oven. Scoop out seeds. The seeds can be kept and roasted.*Using a large knife cut off skin and place in another bowl.