Farmer to farmer at the Fair

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by Mary Turck, 8/24/08 • White enamel church basement coffeepots hang from the ceiling, but the coffee bar inside doesn’t have Grandma’s egg coffee. The Farmers’ Union booth now offers karaoke and cappuccino, along with the more traditional balloons and yardsticks.

The Farmer-to-Farmer program, started by a Wisconsin group in 1988, works with farmer cooperatives near Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Guatemalan farmers raise shade-grown coffee without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and ship it green to Minnesota, where it is roasted in small batches. In fact, the roaster was going at the Farmers’ Union booth on Sunday.

The cappuccino was great, and the patio in the back offered a shady, breezy space to sit. Next trip, I’ll get the frozen mocha-on-a-stick, named the “best food at the Fair” in 2005. I tried it last year, and the only other frozen Fair food that comes close is the Key Lime pie on a stick.

Best of all, this is still my father’s Farmers Union, still advocating for a fair deal for family farmers, still working for strength through unity and cooperative ideals.