April 2004

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Readers’ Write!

GM Report

Board Report

Deli News

Produce News

Farming at the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference

Juice Bar News

A Coffee Primer

Book News

JenEhr Family Farm: Oven-Roasted Chickens Hot & Fresh Nightly

Specials Information

Producer Profile: Just Coffee

Ask the Midwife: Healthy Teeth in Pregnancy & Infancy

Recipes & Drink Recommendations

The Earthen Courtyard Community Building Project

Barneveld Gets
a New Food Cooperative

Community Calendar


Produce News
Jenny Ohlsen
Produce Manager

The long awaited season of spring is here at last. The days are longer; the birds are happily singing, and I have whole shelf of seedlings thriving beautifully in my house waiting for those warm temperatures to arrive. Every year I look forward to the growing season. I greatly enjoy the meditative nature of gardening: growing seedlings, tending to the garden, harvesting, and of course eating the rewards.

The Local Season is Here
The local season here at the Willy Street Co-op is also just around the corner. The local farmers that grow food for all of us at the Co-op are busily tending their seedlings and preparing for the long days of planting ahead. Just a few weeks before the pace began to pick up for our local farmers, the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference (UMOFC) took place in La Crosse Wisconsin on February 26-28. This conference celebrated its 15th anniversary with attendance by over 1500 people (approximately 50 people attended 15 years ago) and 45 different workshops.


The Co-op was a sponsor of the UMOFC again this year, and sent six Co-op staffers to the conference. I was one of the lucky ones who got to go. The conference is a wonderful forum for sharing ideas, making new acquaintances and fostering old relationships. One reason it’s important for us to attend the conference is to become reacquainted with the issues that face our farmers.

Many of the workshops focus on the very practical steps of farming: which perennial crops to use, soil health, composting. Other workshops are geared towards the larger issues like the Organic Food Production Act, or how farmers can educate the public. The diversity of the classes helped me to realize just how complex life is as a farmer. A farmer needs to know crop rotation, soil health, how to market their produce, and still has to work exhausting, long days in the sun tending crops. But on top of all this, organic farmers also need to keep a finger on the pulse of the politics surrounding organic movement. It’s a wonder that a farmer has time for anything other than farming and I bet they begin to wonder that very thing as the growing season picks up pace.

Yearly Farmer Meetings

Just before attending the UMOFC conference, I concluded the very last of our farmer meetings for the winter. These meetings are held each winter after the growing season with the goal to give some structure to next year's growing season. Loretta conducted most of the meetings, and I conducted the last few. Each farmer meeting takes an hour or two to complete and in that space we decide which crops they will be growing for us, how much we can sell and last we agree upon a price for their crops.

Produce Specials

This year I am starting a new purchasing program with a few of our local growers to streamline our promotion planning process and feature local produce as sale items. I am beginning this program with just a few farmers this year and hope to expand to as many farmers that are interested next year. So, keep and eye out for specials starting as early as May from Harmony Valley, Tipi Produce and Avalanche Organics.

April Specials

While we’re talking specials I would like to rave about our April specials. Yes, it’s still a bit too early to have anything local on special but our wholesaler Roots and Fruits from Minneapolis is filling in the void. This month we are featuring bulk California organic spring mix for $3.99/lb, that’s a whole dollar off, folks! Organic kiwi 4 for $1.00 and 8.8 ounce organic strawberries are $2.49/ea. All are excellent quality and very tasty!

We’re Here to Help!
Before I leave you to dash home and water my seedlings, I want to remind all of our member owners that we have an excellent staff in the produce department and to please ask questions of any one of us concerning your produce purchases. If you’re interested in how the Valencia oranges or the strawberries taste, just ask and you’ll get yourself a sample, no problem. We have many reference books at our fingertips and they are always a valuable resource we would love to share.

Well, I’m off to take care of some plants. I’ll see you all around the produce department and HAPPY SPRING!!

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