ST. JOSEPH -- After growing up on a hobby farm in SE Wisconsin, Kate Ritger moved to Chicago to pursue her career and realized, she should make one on the farm.

Ritger says she took a more traditional route after going to school for ministry, then found a new, less common path.

After coming to central Minnesota she worked for the Common Ground Garden at the College of St. Benedict. She says the garden there felt like the perfect combination of both the ministry and the lifestyle she grew up on back in Wisconsin.

"I felt drawn back to central Minnesota and found out about the garden with the sisters at St. Ben's. So that felt like a calling to me, to combine both the ministry components and the lifestyle I grew up with."

That led her to start up the Just Food Collective after the Common Ground Garden went defunct in March. She says, along with growing the community around food, she really loves pizza.

"My family would attest to my enjoyment of putting -- unusual -- things on pizzas. Radishes and zucchini and other veggies you wouldn't normally think about. Last year, at the Common Ground we bought a movable wood-fired pizza oven, and I just loved it, going from the field to someone's dinner plate."

Ritger brought that pizza oven with her as part of the Just Food Collective, so she could keep that aspect going. She also says she loves pickling and canning foods. Ritger says that love comes from her childhood, making everything from sauerkraut to applesauce, to make sure nothing goes to waste. The idea of not being wasteful is part of what she wants to pass on to the community.

Right now, with limited space she's only growing vegetables, Ritger says she'd like to expand to her own land, to grow more varied produce.

Also, the mobile pizza oven she owns makes a few appearances throughout the summer in St. Joseph. Their next one is at Milk and Honey Ciders on July 28th from 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Looking to the future, Ritger says she'd like to start doing private events like weddings and other parties, as they expand in the community.

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