We know that Carleton and St. Olaf are well known beyond the confines of Northfield, as is Malt-O-Meal. But in the current issue of the Mother Earth News, two smaller local businesses are also garnering national attention. In an article entitled, “Twelve Great Places You’ve Never Heard Of”, Northfield is found with this description:
â€œCharmingâ€ is the first word that comes to mind when you enter downtown Northfield. The streets are lined with historic buildings filled with locally owned shops and cafes. A pedestrian bridge crosses the rushing Cannon River where it cascades over a dam. Stately houses and big churches adorn the hills above downtown.
A thriving city center usually indicates a community with vitality, and Northfield is no exception. It is home to two well-regarded colleges, Carleton and St. Olaf, which provide jobs, youthful energy and an endless selection of concerts, lectures, art shows and sporting events. Both colleges pride themselves on their environmental awareness, evidenced by the two wind turbines that generate electricity for the schools. At St. Olaf, the dining service buys locally grown food, including produce from a student-run organic garden.
Northfield residents have access to plenty of good food. A farmers market is open three days a week from May to October. And thereâ€™s Just Food, a small but beautiful natural food co-op downtown that carries a full selection of organic foods, plus produce, dairy and meats from area farms. Behind the food store is the Northfield Community Mercantile, which carries organic gardening supplies, organic bedding and other eco-friendly items.
Northfield residents frequent the Cannon River for recreation â€” canoeing, kayaking and fly fishing are local favorites. Hiking and cross-country skiing are popular in the Carleton arboretum and at two nearby parks, River Bend Nature Center and Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. Of course â€” this being Minnesota â€” there are plenty of places to ice skate and play hockey.
Northfieldâ€™s major employers are the two colleges, with about 1,500 employees combined, followed by the Malt-O-Meal breakfast cereal factory, with about 800 employees. But Northfield is only 40 miles from Minneapolis and St. Paul, and is rapidly becoming a bedroom community for people who commute to the Twin Cities.
The cityâ€™s slogan is â€œcows, colleges and contentment.â€ Although the cows are in decline as the human population increases, the colleges are thriving, and Northfield has an air of prosperous contentment thatâ€™s quite unusual for a town this small.
Kudos to Just Food and the Northfield Mercantile! You can see the other, less notable towns in the article here.