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Sunday, October 7th, 9:00am–5:00pm
Willy Street Co-op Annual Farm Tour

We are pleased to announce the three extraordinary farms we will be visiting for this year’s excursion across the state’s breathtaking back roads. The Willy Street Co-op Annual Farm Tour is offered to Co-op owners and members in order to provide a first-hand experience visiting the people who grow and produce our food. Covering the southern portion of the state, we plan to visit three very different farms this year, each with unique qualities and yet bound together with a similar mission: to produce superior quality foods for their customers. Due to the increasing popularity of this event, space is limited, so please register early, and we’ll see you on the bus!

Sugar River Dairy—

Ron and Chris Paris began producing yogurt over eight years ago after Ron attended a value-added farm products conference with his brother. In only three years after attending that conference Sugar River Dairy went into production making fresh, small-batch yogurt, up to 900 pounds for each round of production. Their low fat yogurt is non-homogenized and is made from a minimal amount of ingredients.

The Sugar River Dairy production facility in Albany, Wisconsin was previously a three-car garage before being carefully converted to a Grade A Dairy. Ron trucks the milk from a nearby farm where their cows graze on pasture and are never given rBGH.

Although the market has encouraged them to grow, the Parises firmly believe in a very simple product, foregoing synthetic stabilizers and additives. By continuing to produce their yogurt, the Parises are able to employ their small family and provide a great local product to Southern Wisconsin consumers.

Pinn-Oak Ridge Farm—

Steve and Darlene Pinnow have been pasture raising their lambs on about 80 acres of rolling pastures at Pinn-Oak Ridge Farms in Delevan, Wisconsin since 1997. Both share a farming background stretching back many generations. After marrying, Steve and Darlene were pleased to continue the tradition on their own dairy farm.

Ten years ago, with an interest in raising lambs, the Pinnows decided to research the idea more thoroughly. They discovered that people were indeed looking for good quality lamb meat and their strict criteria for each of their animals fit with the preferences their customers would be seeking: a vegetarian diet of corn and soybeans, hormone- and additive-free.

In the beginning, the Pinnows sold about one lamb per month and have now expanded their sales to approximately 2,000 per year. Pinn-Oak meats are directly sold to and served at restaurants, grocery stores, culinary schools, farmers’ markets, and to private individuals, all looking for quality meats. As Pinn-Oak Ridge Farm has expanded sales on a national level, they remain family-owned with no third-party distributors. Their main focus remains on the quality of their product and maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction.

West Star Farm—
Cottage Grove

George and Sandy Kohn each grew up on traditional farms but left their family farms to pursue other careers. After many years they decided to return to farming and pursue a dream of owning their own land. In 1993, George and Sandy bought 40 acres near Cottage Grove, Wisconsin where they began by renting out most of the land and working on their own small farming endeavor. Today their production area has grown to about 37 acres on the original 40 plus an additional 12 acres of rented land.

West Star Farm is certified organic by MOSA. George and Sandy grow vegetable crops, bedding plants, cut flowers, and the farm’s niche crop, salsify (an uncommon root vegetable that tastes like oysters only slightly sweeter).

Whether their produce is served in lavish dinners at L’Etoile or bought from Willy Street Co-op, anyone interested in the practices of West Star Farm are always welcome to visit. The Kohns continuously maintain their focus on the quality of their products and the satisfaction of their customers.

Other information
Please note that the purpose of the farm/producer tour is to learn about the realities (both “good” and “bad”) of local farming and food production. If you’d like to join us on the tour this year, please come with an open mind. This is an educational event and honest dialogue is encouraged. In the event that anyone feels strongly against any of the practices we’ll be seeing we ask that they do NOT plan to attend if your primary goal is to impose your values or agenda on any of the producers or the rest of the group.

We’ll be loading up the bus at 9:00am and plan to be pulling back into the Co-op parking lot at 5:00pm. If you’d like to register for this year’s Farm Tour, please call Customer Service at 251-6776 or stop at the Customer Service desk by October 5th. Seats are limited, so make your reservations today!

Cost for members is $15.00 and the non-member rate is $20.00, which includes the catered lunch (vegan/vegetarian options will be served). Children under 12 are FREE and must be accompanied by an adult. Please bring proper clothing with you to protect against weather and sunburn. A hat and sunscreen are advised for sunny days, and warm clothes for cool and rainy days. Make certain to bring proper shoes for walking in the fields (rubber boots, hiking boots, work boots, etc.). A complete itinerary and more complete tour informational materials will be given to you when you register.

If you have questions, need more information about the tour or any other matters relating to your cooperative, please call Cooperative Services Manager Lynn Olson at 251-0884.