As we launch our first Eat Local Challenge, we offer the following updates and information from some of the area Producers who provide our Co-op with 100% locally grown foods throughout the year. This month-long focus on local commerce and consumption presents a rare opportunity for all to realize their economic and environmental impacts through the support of local food systems and on the flip-side—how the global food system, fueled by global interests, would prefer we didn’t think about such things. There’s definitely something special about Wisconsin and the many people we know who grow our food.
HARMONY VALLEY FARM
Beets, Turnips, Cilantro, Winter Radishes, Bulk Spinach, Bagged Spinach, Bagged Salad Mix, Ramps, Green Garlic, Parsley
Among the mainstays of organic vegetable producers for Wisconsin and Minnesota over the past three decades, Richard DeWilde and company farm over 200 acres of land along Spring Creek and the Bad Axe River near Viroqua, Wisconsin. The rich and rugged topography of Vernon County, with its meandering hills and valleys, presents a special set of natural barriers to farming there, and Richard’s good land management reaps a bounty, season after season.
To read the entire profile from 2004, go to: www.willystreet.coop/Newsletter/Newsletter_Archive/0407/producer.html.
VERMONT VALLEY COMMUNITY FARM
Dave and Barb Perkins are growing over 150 types of organic vegetables, fruits and herbs, primarily for their CSA and other wholesale accounts on 40 acres in the Black Earth area of Wisconsin. The two moved their young family there after purchasing a former dairy farm in this fertile area of Southwestern Wisconsin in 1994.
Their original profile can be accessed on our website at: www.willystreet.coop/Newsletter/Newsletter_Archive/0511/producer.html.
LUNA CIRCLE FARM
Tomatillo Salsa Kits, Habañeros
Tricia Bross, owner of Luna CircleFarm, has really blossomed on her new land in Rio where she’s growing a long list of vegetables for the farm’s bustling CSA, the Dane County Farmers’ Market and the Willy Street Co-op. Luna Circle Farm’s 20 acres are certified organic, and Tricia employs several area residents during the growing season.
To read the full story, go to: www.willystreet.coop/article/584.
NEW CENTURY FARM
At the New Century Farm near Shullsburg, Wisconsin, several large, open barns house thousands of layer hens and pullets (baby chicks). Owner Dean Dickel recognizes the benefits in cost and bird health by raising their own pullets, which he says helps to build a healthy immunity against common hen maladies.
Purchasing raw organic ingredients, Dean roasts and mixes his own blend of organic feed and provides a varied menu of soy, corn and other foods aimed at improving the overall taste of the egg. New Century Farm birds are free to eat and drink water at their leisure which allows each bird to relyon her own instincts to take in as much as she feels is necessary.
When hens are ready to lay an egg, nesting boxes lining the sides of the barn provide privacy and comfort for her. On the floor of the barns, chickens are free to mingle or move outside. After the eggs are collected, inspected and cleaned on-farm, Dean delivers the eggs to his local accounts using a bio-diesel fueled truck. For more information, log onto: www.willystreet.coop/Newsletter/Newsletter_Archive/0706/producer.html.
Josh Engel met with us recently to discuss the Driftless Organics Sunflower oil (willystreet.coop/article/7613), which is a 100% local product at the Co-op. Now in their fourth year of cultivating sunflowers for oil, co-owners Josh and Noah Engel along with co-manager Mike Lind, share in the daily work to produce vegetable crops, manage workers, equipment, production, distribution and administration for the farm’s bottled sunflower oil as well as growing vegetables for a CSA, wholesale accounts and farmers’ markets. During the height of their growing season, as many as 12 to 20 workers are employed by Driftless Organics including tractor drivers, mechanics, field and packing house staff.
From nearby Arena, Don’s Produce has been delivering quality tomatoes to Willy Street Co-op for over two decades. All of Don’s tomatoes are grown in an environmentally controlled greenhouse and are then delivered by Don himself.
HAPPY VALLEY FARM
Slicer and Heirloom Tomatoes, Sugar Snap Peas, Radishes, Green Beans
From another organic farm in the Black Earth area, Kevin Lucey’s Happy Valley Farm offers up “consistently excellent quality,” according to Andy Johnston, Willy Street Co-op Produce Manager.
BLACK EARTH MEATS
Taking a classic, back-to-basics approach to fresh, certified organic and non-organic meats only from farms practicing holistic farm management, Black Earth Meats in Black Earth, Wisconsin provides 100% locally grown beef products in the store’s meat case. In May of 2007, a small group of investors—Gary and Rosie Zimmer along with Rob and Mary Ann Litchfield (all longtime organic farmers)—collaborated with Bartlett Durand to begin offering sustainably raised meats. Black Earth Meats employs nearly 20 people between their two fresh and prepared meat processing facilities.
Reporting on recent developments, Bartlett said, “We have grown in size and expertise and are looking to expand our operation into a deli line and more sausage products. The more the customer demands local food, the more [businesses] will respond.”
To read the original profile, see: www.willystreet.coop/article/826.
Pat and Les Niles, owners of BlackSheep Enterprises in East Troy are our suppliers for organic wheatgrass at the Juice Bar. In their original Producer Profile (www.willystreet.coop/article/1081), Pat described their commitment to quality by saying, “Our emphasis and focus is on what we’re producing and the quality has to be there. It has to be quality for you; it has to be quality for us and, above all, it has to be quality for that end consumer.”
“The sandy-loamy soil and cool, dry temperatures in Wisconsin are a boon to ginseng cultivation,” said Mike Burmeister in his 2006 interview. “American ginseng has been cultivated in my area for the longest time, and through selective breeding we are sure we have the best seed stock. Our ginseng has been testing to over 12 percent ginsenosides for over eight years. That’s five times as potent as the average American ginseng grown in Canada and China.” To read more about Burmeister Ginseng growing methods and the family’s history with ginseng, go to: www.willystreet.coop/Newsletter/Newsletter_Archive/0607/producer.html.
CATES FAMILY FARM
Dick Cates grew up farming with his parents and siblings on the same Spring Green farm that he now shares with his wife Kim where they raise 100% grass-fed beef. The Cates Family Farm is a multiple award winner for their sustainable approach to farming, and in 2001 they became the first farm in Wisconsin to be certified by Food Alliance Midwest. In 2006 the Cates met with representatives from the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and were honored to receive the first AWI certification in the country for a beef operation without any changes to their already humane system. For the full story on Cates Family Farm, read: www.willystreet.coop/Newsletter/Newsletter_Archive/0702/producer.html.
Antigo is at the center of Wisconsin’s best potato growing region and the Igl (‘eye-gul’) family has been growing potatoes there since the 1930s, but since 1997 they have remained the only organic potato growers in their community.
The Igls practice several organic and sustainable measures to control infections including regular crop-cover and rotation systems. After harvesting the potatoes in early September, they immediately begin growing field peas. Alfalfa and hay cover crops to deter pests in the potato fields by preventing opportunistic infestations or bugs from wintering over from one harvest to the next.
See their complete profile at: www.willystreet.coop/Newsletter/Newsletter_Archive/0403/igl.html.
Bob and Kelly Boyd, owners of Heartland Bison started raising bison on their family’s historic dairy farm just outside of Stoughton in 1993. Intended to diversify and provide additional income to support the entire operation, Bob began researching the feasibility of raising bison because he felt it would be a good, low-maintenance match for the dairy farm.
For the full story, go to: www.willystreet.coop/Newsletter/Newsletter_Archive/0601/producer.html.
TROY COMMUNITY FARM
Alfalfa Sprouts, Bean Sprouts, Slicer Tomatoes, Leeks, Garlic, Kale
This uber-urban farm has been nothing short of a labor of love for the original Troy Garden Coalition volunteers who saw the potential for this 31-acre parcel and began working to preserve it in 1995. Joined by partners from the Madison Area Community Land Trust, Community Action Coalition Garden Program and the Center for Resilient Cities, the entire project has made an indelible impact on our community, where children and adults learn about growing organic foods and environmental stewardship. A short list of their successes include the completion of a 30-unit mixed-income, green-built housing community, community gardens, five-acre organic farm, prairie restoration, woodland, CSA, education center and now a passive solar greenhouse. There’s too much going on there to do them justice in a couple of paragraphs, but you can see their Producer Profile by going to: www.willystreet.coop/Newsletter/Newsletter_Archive/0707/producer.html.