Food, Community And All Things Sustainable

March 31, 2010

Graduation Day

Thursday, April 1, is graduation day for 12 students in the Managing Your Business course sponsored by South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension and hosted by the Kimball Horizons Team.  Instructor for the course was Dr. Larry Swain, Rural Business Management Extension Specialist, SDSU.

In addition to a presentation by the Small Business Administration, a visit from the president of the local chamber of commerce, and a recognition get-together by the chamber of the commerce, the students have been busy with this for the past six weeks:

                Registrations, Introductions
                Business Survey by participants
                Pitfalls of running your own business
                Steps to Business Success
                Checklist for Success
                Introduction to Entrepreneurship
                Management Strategy Planning
                Getting Organized
                Short Business Plan overview

                Describing y our business
                SWOT Analysis
                Competitive Analysis
                Market Potentials/Market Share

                Understanding and Dealing with People/Swain Personality Styles
                Customer Relations
                Employee Relations
                Planning for Success
                Goal Setting
                Tactical Planning

              Review of goals and objectives
                Marketing of the business
                Introduction to financials

                More on financials and ratio analysis
                Writing an Executive Summary
                Review and wrap up of Short Business Plan
                Final Evaluation

March 30, 2010

Kimball Area Celebrates Final Lap of Kimball's Amazing Race

In June 2008 Kimball received a letter asking if the community was interested in participating in the Horizons Program.  On March 26th the Kimball Area became graduates of the Program.  The Horizons Program is a poverty reduction initiative funded by the Northwest Area Foundation, and delivered by SDSU Cooperative Extension Service to qualifying rural communities of less than 5000 residents with a poverty rate of no less than 10%.
In August, 2008 the Kimball Chamber of Commerce made application for the Horizons Program and notification was received later that month that Kimball was selected as a Horizons Community.  Thus, began an 18-month process designed to train community leaders and begin poverty reduction in the community.  A steering committee was assembled and the project was named Kimball’s Amazing Race into the Future.
As a first step, study groups were formed. Community members filled out surveys.  They were lead in facilitated discussions about what needed to change in the community and lists of the ideas were developed. In the next step, Leadership Plenty training was provided over a ten-week period.  Participants learned the concepts of the Horizons program and then began the process of leading community visioning.  A strategic planning committee developed the community visioning into a community plan with 5 goals.  This plan was recently revised to contain 6 goals.  As the community plan was being developed, it was decided that the rural areas surround Kimball would be included in the development and implementation of the goals.
The community plan was submitted to the Northwest Area Foundation for review, and was presented at a community action rally at Kimball School on August 20, 2009.  In September, word was received from SDSU that the Northwest Area Foundation approved Kimball’s community plan and was awarding a $10,000 grant for implementation of the plan.
As part of the March 26th celebration event, the Knights of Columbus served a free-will donation pancake supper, and supplemental funds were provided by Thrivent.  Proceeds are being donated to support the Kimball Area Resource Center, which is scheduled to open in May.  Cake and SDSU ice cream were also served. 
Maynard Konechne, local leader for the Horizons project, opened the evening’s celebration with a brief history of the project and thanked everyone for all the hard work done on the project.  He said “I think you will see as the program continues [with] the vision…what can be accomplished when we work together.” He said there is still work to be done as the goals are implemented, and continued support is need for these worthwhile endeavors.
Kimball Mayor Wayne Tupper gave his congratulations to the group and said, “The city is eager to partner whenever possible with the Horizons group as you implement your projects.  All this work is for the betterment of our community.” 
Project updates were given by Nancy Herrmann, clean up; Wayne Woodraska, newsletter; Maynard Konechne, housing; Pam Geppert and Maria Birch, Kimball Area Resource Center. Mark Grussing announced the formation of a community foundation group.
On hand for the check presentation were Dave Olson, Community Coach from SDSU Cooperative Extension and Kari Fruechte, Horizons Project Director.  A laptop computer, an LCD projector, and a community sign were also presented. Olson said, “This graduation is in recognition of all your hard work over the past 18 months, and it’s also just the beginning.”
Nathan and Theresa West of Dakota Winds Motel were honored for providing a temporary location for the Resource Center. Honored for his years of hard work in getting the Horizons program to Kimball and helping to keep the program running over the past 18 months was Maynard Konechne. Door prizes of pheasant mounts, SDSU ice cream and gas cards were won by: Gary Leiferman, Audrey Konechne, Nancy Herrmann, Jeff Treit, Ellen Cross, Jan Urban, Pat Woodraska, Alex Martin, Maxine Konechne, Victoria Laubach, Gladys Kott, Helen Rosenberger and Hani Harmon.  For information on the Kimball Area Horizons Program or to receive a copy of the community plan, contact Maynard Konechne at 778-6939.

March 28, 2010

Local Foods Seminar Coming to Kimball

click on image to enlarge

On Tuesday, April 6 from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. the South Dakota Horizons Program is sponsoring a Marketing Local Foods seminar at Kimball Protestant Parish, 300 South Babcock Street. This program is free and open to the public. A light supper will be provided at 6 p.m., followed by presentations by Rhoda Burrows, SDSU Cooperative Extension Service and Dustin Larson, SD Department of Health. Pre-registration for the supper is required, contact Debbie Bortnem at 605 688-6191. Local contact is Maria Birch at 778-6369.

March 27, 2010

Omelet Breakfast

On Palm Sunday, March 28, the Men of Kimball Protestant Parish will be serving their annual Build Your Own Omelete BreakfastProceeds go to support mission work and various parish activities.  Kimball Protestant Youth are holding a bake sale for their mission project of sending blankets to Haiti.  Both events start after morning worship...11:00 a.m.ish

Kimball Protestant Parish is located at 300 South Babcock Street, corner of Hwy 45 & Babcock Street on the west side of Kimball.

March 23, 2010

What to do with local food

Coming to Kimball on Tuesday, April 6th. 
Details to follow.  Mark your calendar.
Click on image to enlarge.

March 21, 2010


My grandma was born 107 years ago today, amidst a spring snow storm that stranded a laboring great-grandma at home alone whilst great-grandpa went to fetch the midwife. Grandma ws born before great-grandpa returned with the midwife. Actually, great-grandma was not alone. She had a 2 year-old and a 3 year-old with her.   

I remember both of these grandmas as incredibly strong women, hard workers who could stand their ground, argue their cause, and make the best food around. All while managing a house full of children, relatives, guests, and on top of running a farm.  My mentors...

March 20, 2010

Pied Piper in Kimball tonight

The Missoula Children's Theater is presenting two performances of The Pied Piper at Kimball School today.  A matinee at 4 p.m. and an evening performance at 7 p.m. with a Theatrical Meal served from 5:00 - 6:45 p.m.

March 19, 2010

There's nothing like a party

Things are exciting around here lately. Our little community is getting ready for a big bash on Friday, March 26th.  Eighteen months ago community members came together to bring the Horizons project to town. Horizons facilitates community discussions and leadership training for select communities, and assists with the development of a community plan.  On Friday we "graduate" from the program and receive a big cardboard check, which represents the Northwest Area Foundation support to help us implement the goals in our community plan. We are celebrating with a free-will-offering Knights of Columbus pancake supper, cake and SDSU ice cream. Thrivent will match $500. Proceeds go to support the Kimball Area Resource Center. Indeed, things are exciting around here.

Poster courtesy of Ann Lenz, Lenz Creative

March 17, 2010

Happy Hydros LLC

Published in the Central Dakota Times, March 17, 2010

Mark Scholl, Taking a break from his greenhouse duties
Note: I first tasted HH tomatoes last year. I was delighted to find local produce at the grocer in my new hometown. So delighted, in fact, that I shouted across the store to my friends to "come see what I found...local produce".

Happy Hydros LLC Expanding Production

Just days before the Christmas 2009 blizzard hit, Happy Hydros LLC of Pukwana finished a 44 by 128 foot addition that doubled the size of their greenhouse. Owners Mark and Teal Scholl spent the next week hand shoveling the over four foot deep snow off the greenhouse roof.

The original section of the greenhouse was constructed in 2007. Scholl proudly points out that it and the addition were constructed with locally purchased concrete, lumber, and gravel; and a local electrician and plumber were used.

Today the expanded greenhouse holds tomato, cucumber, basil and lettuce plants. Harvest of lettuce, cucumbers and basil is set to start around May 1st. Tomatoes are available starting in April. The Scholls sell their pesticide free produce to grocery stores from Pierre to Huron, at the Chamberlain Farmers Market and onsite at the greenhouse.

Basil and lettuce are new crops for the 2010 growing year. Scholl plans to sell the lettuce enclosed in a vented bag with the roots attached. This is a relatively new presentation in this part of the country. Keeping the root on allows for a longer shelf life for the lettuce according to Scholl. Bib lettuce will be seeded in May, followed by romaine. Scholl is also considering a multi-colored leaf lettuce for later in the season.

According to Scholl, he can hand seed a thousand lettuce seeds in about one and half hours. He did just that in February. One thousand pelletized lettuce seeds were inserted one seed at a time into mats of spun volcanic rock. The mats lay in flats, which are set into a shallow watering tank. Here they are watered and fed through a nutrient film technique that runs water 24 hours a day. The plants will be moved from the flats to a trough system and are ready for harvest three weeks later. This season Scholl will pick 1,000 heads of lettuce weekly. At 20 heads per case, that’s 50 heads per case heading to area grocery stores.

Cucumbers were seeded on February 8th and now the 350 cucumber plants are set out two plants to a perlite filled bucket, 89 buckets to a row in two 125 foot long rows. They will produce over 25,000 cucumbers during three crop seasons this year.

Hand seeding of the 1,750 tomato plants started in February. Those plants are now set out in ten 125 foot rows. Each tomato plant is visited three times a week for one of five practices: clipping (using a plastic clip to train the plant to the vine twine), removal of suckers, cluster pruning or removing dead leaves.

Hydroponically grown tomatoes are pruned into vines. They are not the bushy plants we are used to seeing in home gardens. The clipping and removal of suckers, aids in the production of almost 40 pounds of tomatoes per plant.

Cucumbers are clipped, tendrils and side shoots are removed. This prevents the plants from tangling themselves around each other. Reel-enz, a pulley system, and vine twine are used to string the cucumber and tomato plants. By season’s end in December, tomato plants will be strung out for about 30 feet.

The cucumber blossoms are fertilized by a hive of bumble bees Scholl brings in at mid-March. Tomatoes that blossom prior to the bees arrival are hand pollinated. Tomato blossoms need a slight movement for pollination to occur. Bumble bees provide this movement by hanging upside down on the flower and fastening their jaws onto the stamina tube. They cause the flower to vibrate when they activate their flight muscles. This pollination occurs over a six-week period, and then the hive goes to the Scholl’s house. He said, “They get to enjoy the flower garden.”

The tomatoes, basil and cucumbers are watered and fed through a drip line system that delivers nutrients derived from natural ingredients found in the earth. Early in the season the drip system delivers water and nutrients every half -hour for 45 seconds. During the summer the every half -hour feedings last for three minutes. This is necessary because tomatoes require more nutrients and water as they mature. Monitors ensure that the proper water pH and electrical conductivity is maintained.

A high-tech controller in the greenhouse monitors and records humidity, watering and air temperature. Remote access allows off-site monitoring of the controller. Air is exchanged every ten minutes when louvers automatically open and a fan is activated.

Each day is filled with a variety of tasks performed by all members of the Scholl family. In addition to the five practices, there’s a need for cleaning the lettuce watering tank, picking, labeling, packaging and delivering the produce. Although having to label each tomato can seem tedious work, it’s worth it. Scholl related being at a business and having a woman relate to him her disappointment that her favorite tomatoes were sold out at the grocery store. She said she looks for that Happy Hydros sticker. He smiled as he told her those were his family’s tomatoes.

For the past two years, Teal has handled the delivery duties. She’s on the road each Tuesday and Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. This year they plan to split the route with each doing half, and planning to be back at the greenhouse early in the afternoon in order to work at the greenhouse.

Scholl said, “I was raised on a farm, I love food, so this greenhouse is a natural extension of that.” He’s proud of the product his family puts out and they are looking forward to a good season in 2010. Scholl’s goal is to have his family working as part of the greenhouse and retail operation and being able to support all those family members. He wants this to be a living for the entire family. He’s exploring expanding the operation with value added products, such as jams and juice. A big smile spreads across Scholl’s face as he talks about wanting to use excess tomatoes to make tomato juice from his mom’s recipe.

In 2009 the Scholls were awarded one of fifteen Specialty Crop block grants by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. The grant will be used to educated consumers and retailers about the availability and quality of hydroponic tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers produced in South Dakota. They will use a scaled down version of their hydroponic system as an educational tool at the State Fair in Huron this year.

To contact Mark or Teal Scholl, call 605 894-4406 or email them at

Side Bar
Happy Hydros, LLC
631 David Drive
Pukwana, SD 57379
Owners: Mark & Teal Scholl
650 894-4406

Where to buy Happy Hydros pesticide free produce:
Area grocery stores
Chamberlain Farmers Market starting in early May
Happy Hydros greenhouse, call ahead for open hours

March 8, 2010


What you see here is future apple pies.  Tote of apples in the foreground, peeled apples and the gyzmo in the background.  One night last week heard this buzzzz, buzzzz, buzzzz sound coming from the back kitchen - like a drill - buzzzz, buzzzzz, buzzzz.

Sure ' nuff it was a drill all rigged up to peel apples.  One of those fancy hand cranked apple peeler thingies  disassembled and mounted on a hand drill.  Works really slick.

Let's see, how can I explain this further?  Restaurant is open 363 days a year. A minimum of two made and baked on-site apple pies are needed each day January through April and four to six apple pies each day from May through December.  That' almost 1,500 apple pies, thus the gyzmo.

More math. Each day one or two of these also: sour cream raisin, lemon meringue, chocolate, strawberry, pumpkin, pecan, banana cream, coconut cream and a lemon cream cheese that is so delicious I know folks who would arm wrestle you for the last piece.

March 7, 2010

The salad bar nap

Even though we didn't, it sure felt like we served 1,000 folks for lunch. There are days when we really do serve that many. Business has been slow the past few weeks, normal for this time of year in the restaurant business. We prepare less food, work alone instead with a partner and hope more folks show up to eat. Had a partner today and grateful for her.

Ok, some background, so you can fully appreciate what happened today. Daily routine at work: Put on apron, start making 6 salads and blending lettuce. Salads go into large tubs and into the big cooler to be used tomorrow. The lettuce is for today's salad bar. I'm not talking your pot-luck size salad, I'm talking this size dessert salad: 2 #10 cans crushed pineapple, 1 #10 can peaches, 10 - 5.1 oz boxes vanilla pudding, 2 quarts whipping cream. #10 cans are those big lunch-lady sized cans.

Salad bar set up starts at 10 a.m.: 2 bowls of lettuce, 16 bowls of salads (8 different salads), 15 crocks or small bowls of cheeses, pickles, cheese spread and fresh vegetables. Sunday buffet - 2 meats, mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn - set up at 11:00 a.m.

At noon today folks start pouring in, and they do not stop. We go through all the salads prepared for today. We're smart, we realize we are in deep, deep trouble. Oh, maybe it'll be ok, cuz we do have those salads that were made ahead for tomorrow. Dip into those salads - just taking one bowl's worth out and leaving behind the remaining 5 bowl's worth. Doesn't take long to realize we just need to take all of those salads. None left for tomorrow, now that does mean we are in b.i.g trouble!

OK. Quick confab. Decision: we're gonna take our chances they won't notice we are missing at the salad bar. Load it up as much as we can without overflowing the bowls. Run into the kitchen with our lists and start to remake those salads for tomorrow.

Wonder what the first lady in tomorrow is gonna think when she reads our list from today. Each day we have to write down what we make. We wrote that list today - twice. Oh yes, then there's the matter of the extra comments we put on that list...can't list 'em here.

Thus the need for the four-hour nap upon arriving at home.

March 6, 2010

Local Produce

Spent part of today at a local pesticide-free, hydroponic greenhouse that raises tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and lettuce.

I met Mark and Teal Scholl at the Chamberlain Farmers Market last year and fell in love with their produce. So it was a fun time to spend a couple hours with Mark today while interviewing him for an article.

Support your local growers.

March 5, 2010

They say everyone has a double

Ever mistake a stranger for someone you know? I've become unnerved at times by twin sightings, especially since I've moved a few states over, and it's been happening almost everyday, and these twins are of folks I knew back there. Perhaps part of the reason for the frequency is that I work in one of the largest, if not the largest restaurants in the state and lots of folks pass through.

A few weeks back I walked into the kitchen, where I'm a "salad girl" at the age of over 50, and was stunned to see a man I mistook for the guy in the photo. The smiling guy in the photo owns a deli two states east of here. For a split second of a moment I thought, "hey, Lee, whatcha doing here, cookin' at Al's?" Did this new cook look like that guy two states over. Well yah....same chef gear on, same shoes, same mannerisms and gestures, stands and walks the same, same v.o.i.c.e. I was so stunned by the uncanny twinness that the h.u.g.e dragon tattoo spread across the twin's forearm did not catch my eye. It's huge...beautiful tat.

Anyway, just couldn't help but ask Lee's double if he had relation in eastern Wisconsin. Explained the reason behind the question. Explained that aside from the dragon tattoo, he and Lee could be twins. And then I proceeded to tell him how much I miss Maretti's Deli and Lee's good cooking.

Looked me square in the eye and said "Nope, no relatives there." I'm thinking Lee's double is secretly happy that he has the dragon tattoo.