It started a little over a year ago. Some folks from around the Northfield Region, that would be the cities of Northfield and Dundas, along with the townships of Greenvale, Waterford, Northfield, and Bridgewater, started to get together over coffee just to talk.
The first few people to talk were me, Betsey Buckheit, Glen Castore, and Erica Zweifel. Then Liz Meisner, Suzie Nakasian, and Greg Langer joined in. Finally, we added some brains and brawn with Ron Sommers and Gabriel Trejos.
The first topic was the Northfield Area as a geographic place or region. We share a river, some rail and a number of roads, as well as some other infrastructures and a variety of flora and fauna. It was the flora that first got us talking about agriculture, ecology, and the economy. Probably the infrastructure got us on to the political structures and processes.
Then we thought we should go from talk to action. Glen, Erica, and Suzie had worked together on a regional project once before. Glen was looking for something that would leverage economic development from the existing ag economy. Erica thought it was an idea that was worth exploring. Suzie applied for a St. Olaf Intern.
That’s when Gabriel got involved. He met with Liz, and Greg, and Ron, and a number of other people in the region with involvement in and/or information about the Northfield Area ag economy. When he was traveling around the region meeting people, he was gathering data on the local ag economy.
Gabriel put together a very impressive draft report, then he went home to Latin America. Our kaffeeklatsch, or the NAUREP group, is going to spend the next month reviewing his draft report. When he gets back to Northfield this autumn, we’re going to have him share his report with interested people.