Fact 1) North Dakota is developing its own “Napa Valley”
Many international students in North Dakota learn that this state is referred to as the “Peace Garden” state. With ninety percent of its land completely dedicated to agriculture, the state’s economy has been based on crops and livestock. The state has been producing wheat, corn and beans practically since the beginning of time, but over the past decade, North Dakotans have started cultivating something quite unexpected: grapes.
Most wines originate from mild climates, like California, France or Italy, where grapes can easily make it through the winters. Yet North Dakotan winters are far from mild, but wine enthusiasts in the state aren’t letting this minor setback get them down. Growers are breeding a vine that can flourish even in temperatures 45 degrees below zero. While growers desperately wait for the arrival of the cold-resistant grape, the wine industry continues to grow. Researchers and students at the North Dakota State University are helping to develop this new breed of grape.
Fact 2) North Dakota has a grizzly history
North Dakota is home to those furry, large, scary yet cuddly animals known as grizzly bears. The state has its fair share of history with the grizzly. In 1805, famous American explorers Louis and Clark encountered their first brown grizzly bear in North Dakota. Clark described this terrifying encounter in his journal. He wrote, “This animal is the largest of the carnivorous kind I ever saw we had nothing that could way him, I think his weight may be stated at 500 pounds (227 kilograms)…” I imagine they were more than surprised to run into such a sight!
One American president made such an impact in North Dakota that they decided to name an entire state park after him. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt (see the “grizzly” connection, here?) spent a lot of his time in the rugged North Dakotan terrain hunting bison. He fell in love with the freedom of the outdoors and later become a prominent activist in conservation policies. Roosevelt wrote many books on conserving western land. Now, international students can visit the Theodore Roosevelt National Park which was named after him in honor of his love and passion for the great outdoors.
Fact 3) Your honey most likely came from North Dakota
If you put honey in your tea or on your toast this morning, you most likely did so without knowing it came from North Dakota. The state is the number one producer of honey and has been for the last seven years. Last year, North Dakota produced over 45 million pounds of honey, a 70-million-dollar value. California is the nation’s second-largest producer, but North Dakota is producing double the amount.
Honey is one of nature’s most versatile products and one of the most complex. Honeybees produce this sweet, sticky liquid from the nectar of flowers. To make only a pound of honey, honeybees must extract nectar from millions of flowers.
Beekeepers must constantly be visiting hives to feed and inspect the bees. The final product is then delivered to millions of suppliers in the U.S. and worldwide. Next time you enjoy that honey on your toast – or if you go home and are thinking of that special gift – think of North Dakota!