November 2017
As anyone who has chipped a tooth knows, dental issues are distracting. Imagine having to be in elementary school and embarrassed to smile for school photos, unable to enjoy snack time, and unable to concentrate in class because of untreated cavities.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for too many kids. Dental caries, or cavities, are the leading chronic disease among children in the U.S., according to a 2014 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This is largely an awareness issue; tooth decay is one of the most preventable diseases.

SMIF has worked in 5 of its 20 counties (Blue Earth, Brown, Martin, Nicollet and Rice) to seed an Early Childhood Dental Network, always in partnership with one of its existing Early Childhood Initiative communities. Recently, the Early Childhood Dental Networks launched an awareness campaign about not putting your child to bed with sugary drinks.

Across our region, these Early Childhood Dental Networks are coming up with creative, short-term solutions to ensure our kids are set up for success. However, we need to encourage policies that understand that early investments in dental care save dollars down the road in related health care costs. Baby teeth matter; the health of our kids reflects the health of our communities.

You can learn more about SMIF’s Early Childhood Dental Network at
Feast! Exhibitor Spotlight: Ferndale Market
John Peterson, owner of Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls. Ferndale turkeys grow naturally, without the use of antibiotics or artificial growth promotants, and they enjoy constant access to a diet of grains, vitamins, and minerals from a local feed mill.
What’s one of the most common questions a turkey farmer gets? According to John Peterson of Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls, people want to know if he still eats turkey. “I eat A TON of turkey,” said Peterson, who is one of SMIF's Board of Trustees .

Ferndale Market will be an exhibitor at the upcoming Feast! Local Food Marketplace at Rochester on December 1-2. This is their fourth year at Feast! "In the first couple years, we came because we knew it was going to be a local food show featuring farmers and makers from our region, so we felt that we needed to be there,” said Peterson. “Along the way, Feast! has become the premier local food show in the region.”

You can sip, sample and buy from over 100 other exhibit booths and enjoy cooking demos featuring locally sourced recipes. The Feast! Local Foods Marketplace  festival even provides a fun activity area for children!

Read the full story about Ferndale Market here .
New Entrepreneurs
Leading the Way
Jose Rodriguez and Cecilia Cifuentes are one of many entrepreneurial success stories. Jose immigrated with his parents from Mexico in the mid-1990s. At first, he was working at a subsidiary of Hormel and started working on cars on the side. “I didn’t think about being a mechanic, but I started working on my own cars and liking it. I said, ‘let’s give it a try,’” said Rodriguez.

Jose’s parents turned to SMIF for a loan in 2012 to start an auto repair business, West Oakland Auto in Austin. Once that was paid off, Jose and Cecelia came back for a second loan, this time as part of a business expansion to buy their own building. “The credit union couldn’t give us a loan because we didn’t have a business history or experience with paperwork or bookkeeping,” said Rodriguez. “They recommended us to SMIF. I’m predicting that [our second loan] will lead to a big improvement with our business and help create jobs.” They currently have seven employees. West Oakland Auto is a loan client and has participated in SMIF's Prosperity Initiative.

You can read the whole story here!
Hare & Tortoise Farm, Zumbro Falls
We’ll call this a fair trade: in exchange for SMIF’s first Grow a Farmer Fund loan, Molly gave us a beet. Molly’s parents, Bill and Ellen, are the owners of Hare & Tortoise Farm near Zumbro Falls. The Grow a Farmer Fund was entirely donor-support by people who want to see a stronger, more sustainable local food economy in Minnesota. It’s intended to support small-scale farmers like Bill and Ellen (and Molly!).

Bill and Ellen moved to Zumbro Falls from the suburbs of Chicago in 2014. They began farming in the summer of 2015. Bill and Ellen said their neighbors were essential in their growth including Heartbeet Farm, about four miles away and where Bill interned and learned more about farming. "We actually sell through them. They have a large wholesale operation to the Twin Cities. We sell to a number of co-ops and restaurants. I sell to Heartbeet Farm, and they sell it up there," said Bill.

"This loan is coming at a perfect time, to help launch us into a lot of the projects we want to do to make the farm our own." Bill and Ellen used their loan to help them scale-up their operations a bit faster, including a waterway to reduce flooding and a root washer. They are a USDA certified organic vegetable farm.
Read more stories about the people SMIF impacts in our
First Quarter Loans l  See Our Business Resources
Austin BioSciences, LLC*, Austin | Diagnostic company focused on cancer detection
Hare & Tortoise Farm, Zumbro Falls | Organic vegetable farm
Grandma's Gourmets, LLC, Albert Lea | Specialty food manufacturer
The Best Little Hair House, LLC, Albert Lea | Hair salon

*Seed Fund Investment
First Quarter Grants
Small Town Grants: $61,500 to 7 small town community projects
Book Grant: 6,002 books to Mankato Kiwanis Foundation
Early Childhood Initiative: $21,500 to GFW Schools, Gibbon
Tornado Recovery Fund Grant: $3,000 to two businesses
Community Growth Initiative: Up to $25,000 to City of Medford
Upcoming Events
Early Childhood Initiative Meetings
Kenyon, December 12; January 9
Gibbon, December 14; January 11

Live in the area? Join us in our Early Childhood Initiatives in Gibbon and Kenyon.

 FEAST! Festival and Tradeshow
December 1 & 2,
Rochester, MN

Local food vendors will be in Rochester showing off their amazing products! The festival is open for the public to enjoy on December 2.
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation | 507-455-3215 |