Hosted by Ugly Food of the North and the Cass Clay Food Partners, First Fridays at B is a free monthly meet-up for anyone to engage and discuss important food topics in the Fargo-Moorhead community. Each morning meetup on, you guessed it–the first Friday of every month–includes announcements about upcoming events or projects, a featured themed presentation from food leaders in the community, and an audience Q&A with the presenters. Oh, and coffee, of course. All in a really cool theatre space–Theatre B.
“We really want to build a community that is very connected when it comes to local food and supporting a healthy food system,” said Megan Myrdal, co-founder of Ugly Food of the North. “I’ve been working in this for a few years now and we hear a lot of people who say that they want to get involved or they want to start doing something but they don’t really know the place to start. We want to be that consistent space where people can connect and reach out to others. You can find ways to volunteer, get advice from business owners, meet people who want to make the same changes as you, and get the lay of the land with what’s happening with the local food community.”
Each month has a different themed focus, whether it’s talking about community gardens, food and culture, the local Prairie Roots Co-op and more. The April edition will feature Casey Steele, founder and owner of the food incubator Square One Rental Kitchen & Events, Jeremiah and Rachel Utecht of Off The Deck Hot Sauce and Flannel Fizz, and Megan Lewis of Milk Made. They’ll be discussing food entrepreneurship and answering questions such as, “Why do unique food businesses matter to a community?” “How does an incubator kitchen support the growth and development of food business?” “What’s it like to start a food business in Fargo-Moorhead?” and “Why should our community care and support these endeavors?”
“Essentially, what we’ve realized with Ugly Food of the North is that we still have a focus on food waste and bringing that education to the community, but we also want to be a place that celebrates and highlights all of the good things that are happening in our food community too,” Myrdal said. “We saw what was happening with 1 Million Cups and celebrating the entrepreneurs and the people going out to start their own businesses. We thought can we take this same idea and bring it into the food space.
Anyone and everyone his welcome to these events–modeled similar to Emerging Prairie’s weekly 1 Million Cups events– and don’t think you have to own a restaurant to attend. If you’re looking at getting involved in the food community and staying informed, want to volunteer, are thinking of starting a business or want to make a food-related announcement to the group, this is for you.
“The Bush Foundation has this model for community innovation. You don’t come in with a specific agenda, but if you provide the right space and you build and allow people a place to share their ideas, it builds this collective knowledge and gives people opportunities to connect themselves–and great things will happen. People will innovate themselves. We want to create that space and create places for people to share their ideas and see what happens from there,” said Myrdal.
Worried that you might not be able to make the scheduled time on the first Friday of each month? The good news for you is that each meetup is streamed live on Ugly Food of the North’s Facebook page and available for later watching, so you don’t have to miss out on the fun and can still stay updated with what’s going on.
Put this one on your calendar for the first Friday of every month at Theatre B. This event won’t take place over the summer in June, July and August but will resume in September. Don’t be afraid to get out there and get connected and learn about local food!
7:30 a.m. – Coffee provided by official coffee sponsor, Thunder Coffee
8-9 a.m. – Program featuring Casey Steele , Jeremiah and Rachel Utecht, Megan Lewis
9-9:30 a.m. – Coffee + continued conversation
Are familiar with Ugly Food of the North?
Ugly Food of the North was started in July of 2015, by Megan Myrdal, Jeff Knight and Gia Rassier. The trio wanted to do a one-time event to bring awareness to the issue of food waste. So they teamed up with the new (at the time) Red River Market to collect misshapen vegetables and other foods from vendors to host a potluck after the market. Things took off from there.
“One of the issues of why a lot of food gets wasted is this idea of ugly food, that food needs to look a certain way in order for it to be accepted,” said Myrdal. “This was going to be a one-time thing, not an organization or movement. We had so many people show up and it was really successful, so we wanted to keep going. Since then, we’ve done over 20 events, launched the Little Free Garden project in 2016, and now First Fridays at B.”
Photos by M. Schleif Photography, courtesy of Ugly Food of the North