Looking for festive activities to make the most of this holiday season? You don’t have to travel out of state. According to our friends at the South Dakota Department of Tourism, there’s plenty to do from Hill City to Sioux Falls to enhance your holidays.
As you drive across the countryside this winter, you may notice many fields are covered with soybean and corn stalks. The farm families who grow two of the state’s top crops didn’t decide to wrap up harvest early. It’s a sustainable practice called “no till” that’s a growing trend to help protect the environment.
Not all soil types are suited for no till, but for those farmers who can use it, no till is a simple but powerful tool. After harvesting the crops, farmers leave the stalks and plant roots in the field. There’s no reason to till since those stalks and roots help keep the soil from blowing around throughout the winter. By spring, the plant material breaks down and feeds the soil so it’s ready to grow another season of healthy crops. This is just one way South Dakota farm families are improving their farm’s sustainability to preserve the land and continue growing quality foods for the future.
A road trip across South Dakota is one of the best ways to witness agriculture in our state. From observing sustainable practices like no till farming to identifying the different types of crops, traveling for the holidays is one way we can all get closer to our food. In case you needed an excuse to plan your next road trip, here are the best holiday activities South Dakota has to offer.
Christmas in the Capital, Pierre. Light up your holidays with a visit to the state capital surrounded by the magic of 90 custom designed Christmas trees. Christmas in the Capital kicked off November 21, but is open daily through December 26.
Holiday Open House, Volga. Experience the joy of the season at Schadé Vineyard’s holiday open house in Volga. Held the first Saturday in December, the event features complimentary wine tasting, food pairings and live music. It’s a perfect place to meet your girlfriends and enjoy some retail therapy in the gift shop.
Frontier Christmas, Lake City. Step into the boots of South Dakota’s pioneers and experience an authentic frontier Christmas at historic Fort Sisseton in Lake City. With make-and-take craft stations, handmade decorations, treats and caroling, your family will create long-lasting memories by reflecting on the past.
Holiday Express, Hill City. Take a ride on the 1880 holiday express train from scenic Hill City all the way to the North Pole. With hot chocolate and a sugar cookie in hand, travel in comfort while listening to a special story. Santa even makes an appearance to deliver gifts to the littlest passengers. Seating is limited so book your tickets soon for this magical ride.
Winter Wonderland, Sioux Falls. Enjoy a sparkling winter wonderland at Falls Park in downtown Sioux Falls. Whether you walk or drive, make plans to climb to the top of the five-story viewing tower for a 360-degree view of 350,000+ lights on 271 trees and 273 light poles. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, book a twilight helicopter flight of the park with Strawbale Winery in Renner.
No matter how you choose to spend your holidays, they’re sure to be memorable if you’re with family and friends. Ever wonder what farmers do during the winter months? Here’s a clue: They aren’t just watching Netflix. Learn more by reading this, then let us know which South Dakota holiday activity is your favorite in the comments below.
If one thing is true about South Dakotans, we love making memories outside with our families. One of our favorite places to visit in the fall is the Country Apple Orchard in Harrisburg. Kevin Kroger, general manager, knows exactly what that’s like since he’s been working at the orchard with his own family for 12 years.
“All of my eight children pitch in, even my youngest,” said Kevin. Kevin’s stepfather and grandmother are the primary owners, making it a true family affair.
“The first year was a little sticky, but every year it gets easier,” he said. “We learn more and get better. We know we are investing in success with 100 acres of prime South Dakota farmland.”
Running a farming business has been a trial-and-error process. Kevin’s family felt that firsthand when they began maintaining their trees. “We were hit with a hard frost right off the bat. It was hardly the optimal season to start with an orchard,” he chuckled. “We almost went without enough apples that season. Now we can’t grow enough of them!”
That’s great news for Americans everywhere, who eat an average of 55 pounds of apples annually. In addition to pruning their 4,500 trees, the Country Apple Orchard sprays their apples with linseed oil before they blossom to ensure a plentiful harvest of healthy apples for families to pick and enjoy.
“No one likes biting into an apple with insects in it,” Kevin said. “Like other farmers, we only spray pesticides when the apples need it.”
While the Kroger family doesn’t have a typical South Dakota farming background, Kevin did walk beans as a child. That means walking through soybean fields and picking weeds for Sioux Falls area farmers. It’s a chore many seasoned farmers remember, but is no longer needed on most farms thanks to technology.
“I was exposed to hard work in the older days of farming, and I didn’t think I wanted anything to do with it,” Kevin said. “Now, with technology, it’s so much easier and much more enjoyable.”
Today’s farmers use different types of technology, including GPS, drones and computer-generated soil maps to grow healthy food more efficiently. Over the past 30 years, soybean farmers grew 46 percent more soybeans using 35 percent less energy thanks to technology and more sustainable farm practices.
Being more efficient means farm families might have a little extra time to enjoy an afternoon at the Country Apple Orchard. Kevin and family pack weekdays with school field trips and weekends with festivals. Even Santa takes a break from his work at the North Pole to stop by and say hi before the busy holiday season.
“In today’s world, it can be really hard to slow things down,” he said. “Here, families go on wagon rides, pick apples and pumpkins, and enjoy delicious local foods. Slowing down to take in the outdoors makes family time more memorable.”
Cooking together is another way to create memorable moments. Try out one of these recipes with your family this fall.
Whether it’s date night at the theater or a cozy family night on the couch, movies have a way of bringing us together. When it’s warm in South Dakota, it can be fun to take the movie magic outdoors and gather under the stars. Here are our tips for planning a night that’s sure to please family and friends.
A projector, audio speakers and computer are essential technology. A free projector might be tough to track down, but they are available at most rental companies and easy to purchase. Need a portable screen? No worries. Just hang a white sheet or painter’s drop cloth. You could also skip it and project onto the side of a building if it’s clean and light colored. Don’t forget extension cords.
Pay attention to sunset and plan your festivities accordingly. You want to start the movie when it’s dark, so this could be 9 p.m. or 7:30 p.m., depending on the time of year. Starting later gives you time to host dinner and play yard games. Starting early may mean you can squeeze in two movies; family-friendly first for the kiddos and then one for the adults after they go to bed.
Comfy and Cozy
Keep your audience comfy by providing blankets and pillows for lounging or ask them to bring their own. Hang bistro lights to set the mood, segment food from the theater seating and make sure your guests can see where they’re going. Set out mosquito repellent spray and fire up citronella candles to protect your guests against bugs and other pests.
The best part of any movie night is the food. Snack stylishly by creating a buffet table out of pallets or cement blocks and plywood. Cover with a cute tablecloth and add a flower centerpiece for a touch of greenery.
When it comes to the menu, keep it simple. Finger foods like kabobs or meats and cheeses paired with crackers work well for flexible dining. A popcorn bar with butter and assorted toppings transforms the traditional snack into a bold, salty or tangy mix. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, a selection of classic movie candies or toasty s’mores are two of our favorites. In fact, we have the perfect recipe for campfire ice cream s’mores.
No matter what’s on the menu, South Dakota soybean farmers have you covered. Pigs, cows, chickens and turkeys love to eat protein-packed soybeans as part of a balanced diet. Healthy animals mean you’re serving up quality milk, eggs, cheese and meats for your guests.
Select your movie based on your guest list. The classics or a comedy are always a great bet. Depending on who’s there, it might be “Grease,” “8 Seconds” or “The Goonies.” When it comes to kids, you can’t go wrong with anything Pixar or Disney. “Jurassic Park” or “Jaws” might be fun if you’re feeling adventurous, but watch out. Your backyard may never feel the same again.
Now that you have the basics for hosting an outdoor movie night, it’s time to get the invites out and start planning the menu. Here’s a recipe for Green Chicken Souvlaki Kabobs that’s sure to please. See our recipes for more ideas.
The holiday season is officially here. Feeling pressure about hosting the perfect Thanksgiving meal for your family or friends? Farmer Morgan Kontz from Colman, S.D., knows a thing or two about hosting large groups and has some tips for making everything run smoothly in this guest blog post.
I am so thankful every year when this holiday rolls around because it signifies the end of a season. Harvest is complete and we have “bushels” for which to be thankful. We work hard on our farm throughout the year to grow our crops and raise our animals in a sustainable manner. To us, sustainability means farming with the future in mind. That means preserving the land so that we leave it in even better condition than when we found it.
As a mother, when it comes to food, I enjoy being a part of the farm because I know where the quality food comes from that I put on our table and feel confident feeding it to our family. I love preparing large meals for people, being a host and opening our home for fellowship. Here’s a rundown of what I do to make sure those big events go off without a hitch.
A few weeks before the event
To get ready for big meals or occasions, my number one piece of advice is to plan ahead. I make note of everything I want to make and make a grocery list of what I need. I do my shopping a few weeks before the event, except for any fresh items. This way, in case I forgot anything, I still have time to get it all ready while avoiding panic mode.
One to two days before the event
At this point, I start making a pile of ingredients and serving dishes for each item on my counter. This helps me to visually make sure I have space for all the food and everything I need.
The day of the event
Right away in the morning, I cook as much as I can. If anything needs to be chilled, I do that the night before. I discovered that if I spend too much time cooking that day, I never have time to get myself ready. So I wake up early and get as much done as I can so I can enjoy chatting and visiting with our guests when they arrive and not be rushed.
Spend time with friends and family and enjoy the fellowship. One thing we do during the month of November is talk about what we are thankful for each day. We write our blessings on leaves and add them to our blessings tree. What I love about the holiday is simply spending it as a family. After we feed our cattle, we spend the entire day together just enjoying each other’s company.
You might see the famous Hungry for Truth table in some familiar spots around South Dakota on your TV screens this fall. From the beginning, the table has been a focal point of Hungry for Truth. In many homes, the kitchen table is where most conversations occur, and family and friends are food and fellowship. In the newest Hungry for Truth commercial, the table journeys across South Dakota and shows the connections made with fellow South Dakotans.
The Horter family, who farm in Andover, are featured in the commercial sitting around the table having meaningful discussions with another family about food, farming and everything in between. John’s wife, Jaclyn, and their two children joined in for the Hollywood treatment.
“It was an interesting experience because we’ve never been involved in something like this,” said John. “It was a new experience for me, having make up done, wardrobe … I’ll tell you that.”
John says life ended up imitating art on the set. Sitting around the table with their fellow South Dakota family, they had conversations about where our food comes from and what life is like on the farm.
“In between takes, we talked about our farm, and they had a lot of questions. We loved sharing our story and learned things from them too. Being on the farm all the time, it’s nice to hear the perspective of people outside of that life. After all, we all have to eat.”
“This commercial is about connecting with South Dakotans and hopefully enticing them to talk with a farmer, finding out more on our website or engaging with us on social media,” said John. “Today, not many people grew up on farms or have family who farm, so it’s important for people to have a real person to connect to. We want to talk with people every day about how food gets from our farm to their table. We want everyone to know the way it really works and understand why we make the choices we do. We’re putting the same food on our family’s table.”
What do you want to know about the Hungry for Truth initiative? Do you have questions for John and his family about what they grow on their farm? Leave them in the comments.
Also, check us out on social media:
It’s officially September, and we all know what that means – kids are back in school! Food safety might not be on the top of the list when you think about packing lunches, but it’s an essential part of planning a healthy meal. Whether it is a bag lunch for kids in the cafeteria or for your own lunch break at the office, here’s everything you need to know about packing a safe lunch.
Food safety starts in the kitchen. Always remember to clean, separate, cook and chill when preparing your meal. Wash your hands and any surfaces before cooking, and rinse fruits and vegetables. Separate raw meat from other food – that includes using separate cutting boards and storing them in different locations. When cooking, use a food thermometer to be sure your food is cooked thoroughly, and remember to chill leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours.
Keep It Cool – Or Warm!
If you have perishable foods as part of your lunch – meats, eggs, cheese or yogurt – be sure to have two cold sources packed in your bag. Frozen juice boxes or water work great as freezer packs. Also use an insulated lunchbox with perishable foods.
Looking to keep hot food hot? You can use an insulated lunch box for that too! Fill the lunchbox with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, then empty it and put in your hot food. Be sure to keep the lunchbox closed until it’s time to eat.
Always remember to leave your lunch in the refrigerator if you pack it the day before.
Pack disposable wipes for easy cleanup of hands and surfaces. Because foodborne illnesses can easily spread through containers, throw out any wrappers or disposable packaging.
Recipes to Get Started
- Caesar Steak Wraps
- Italian Turkey Panini
- Sirloin Pita Salad Sandwich
- For a healthy side: Fiesta Fruit Medley
- For a twist on the traditional meal: Healthy Mango Banana Smoothie
What tips or tricks to you have for packing an amazing lunch? Let us know in the comments!
Summer is in full swing. What better time to take advantage of this beautiful weather and go on a picnic? A lot of prep goes into planning the perfect picnic, but don’t fret! We’ve got some helpful packing tips to make picnic prep as easy as pie.
First things first: planning your menu. Think of foods that are easy to eat on the ground, involve minimal cutting and don’t require many serving utensils. This will make your picnic easier and will save packing space. Here are some picnic-able ideas to get you started:
- Avocado and Egg Salad Sandwich, On My Plate blog
- Sirloin Pita Salad Sandwich, Hungry for Truth blog
- Pressed Sandwich, “South Dakota Magazine”
- Outback Chicken Sandwiches, South Dakota Farm Wife blog
After planning and preparing the menu, it’s time to pack your basket. When packing the food, it is important to keep food safety in mind. How are you going to keep that potato salad and lunchmeat cold? Ice packs are an easy fix for this. Place them near the items that need kept cold. While hot air rises, cold air tends to stay in a smaller area since it is denser.
Once your picnic is packed, remember it’s best to eat your cold picnic food within two hours. Leaving cold food out for longer than this increases the rate at which bacteria multiply and increases the chances the food might make you sick.
Don’t forget the plates, utensils, napkins and storage baggies for leftovers. We also recommend packing a trash bag and wet wipes for easier clean up. Enjoy your picnic and bon appetit!
Packing your cooler for a long weekend can sometimes seem like a daunting task, but with these helpful tips and a little bit of prep, you’ll be ready to head out for a fun-filled weekend in no time.
1. Take the time to wash out your coolers before packing up. You want to ensure you’re starting out with the cleanest environment for storing your food.
2. There’s no need to bring a huge cooler for your snacks. A full cooler will keep everything cold much longer than a half-empty one. If you’ve got room left over once you’re packed up, add some ice to fill it up and keep things cold longer.
3. Make sure your foods are stored in watertight containers that won’t let melting ice into your lunch.
4. Keep raw meats separate from your drinks and other foods. Use a separate, smaller cooler that won’t need to be opened as frequently. Make sure these and other perishable items are stored directly on ice.
5. You may love crushed ice in your drinks, but it’s not the best choice for putting in your cooler. Bigger blocks of ice will keep your food and drinks chilled much longer.
6. Bring along an appliance thermometer so you can be sure your food is safely stored at the proper temperature.
7. If you don’t want to lug around more than one cooler, try packing in layers. Place those items that you need to keep coldest at the bottom and cover with ice. Alternate with layers of food and ice until you get close to the top. Top off the cooler with those drinks you’ll be reaching for first.
8. Don’t pack warm or room temperature items. Place everything right from your fridge or freezer into the cooler.
Follow these tips and enjoy your worry-free weekend of fun and food!