Reasons to Love Minnesota No. 129: North House Folk School

Learning for the sake of learning

Nearly every craft imaginable is taught at North House Folk School in Grand Marais — enough to encompass 18 distinct themes, including basketry, blacksmithing, boatbuilding, fiber art, Northern ecology, and timber framing.⁣

A cornerstone of the D.I.Y. community since 1997, North House hosts hundreds of courses on its lakefront campus each year. Its exalted reputation within the handmade-and-homespun world has hooked such accomplished educators as New Scenic Cafe chef-owner Scott Graden (Fish Cookery), Star Tribune columnist Kim Ode (From Noodles to Strudels), photographer Bryan Hansel (The Basics of Photography), Women’s Woodshop founder Jess Hirsch (Axe Work for Women and Non-Binary Carvers), and celebrated author Beth Dooley (Grains! Glorious Grains!). ⁣

In fall 2019, Minnevangelist co-founder Andrew Parks completed a 2.5-day Artisan Breads Immersion with instructors Amy James and Erin Swenson-Klatt at NHFS. An accomplished home cook but a novice baker, he left the class feeling newly empowered. (Ashlea Halpern was just happy to reap the benefits: a carload of fresh-baked sourdough boules, pillowy pitas, wood-fired ciabatta, a golden brick of salt-brined herbed focaccia, and several crusty loaves bolstered by freshly milled flour, toasted seeds, dried fruit, and crushed nuts.⁣) Where baking once seemed too precise and scientific to Andy, it suddenly felt natural — an alchemical yet accessible blend of flour, water, salt, and yeast. ⁣

And this is exactly why North House exists: to encourage, as they put it, “learning for the sake of learning.” Like Scandinavia’s traditional folkehøjskolers (folk high schools), classes here aren’t competitive; there are no grades or final exams. Rather, they awaken our deeply human desire to make things with our own two hands, plus a few simple tools, and apply what we’ve learned to everyday life.⁣

What would you love to learn for the sake of learning? Woodturning? Yurt building? How to forge a knife? Us, we’re already mulling over a three-day fermentation primer by Eric Edgin, because why buy kimchi and kombucha at the coop when you can make it yourself?

North House Folk School
500 MN-61, Grand Marais, MN; 218-387-9762.