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Local Vendor Compendium, Part II

This is the continuation of an article we started last month in order to 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.

Heirloom Tomatoes, Seedlings
Mark Voss starts his tomato seedlings in a hoop-house on his property where he also grows on approximately 3,000 square feet of MOSA-certified organic lawn on the northside of Madison. These heirloom seedlings and tomatoes headed for the Willy Street Co-op benefit from a healthy, local growing cycle and an unusually short trip to market. By re-engineering the use of the front- and backyards, this city farm uses a plan designed to take full advantage of growing vertically to make up for a lack of horizontal space.

For the complete profile for Voss Organics, you can go to:

Kohlrabi, Flat Leaf Parsley, Winter Squash, Corn
George and Sandy Cohn farm this land in Cottage Grove, and their daughter-in-law, Tanya has stepped into a leadership role on the farm. George expects that by next year, Tanya will have transitioned as the primary manager on the farm and they could not be happier. Look to West Star Farm for a large variety of certified organic vegetables, fruit and fresh herbs.

Just past Plain, along Hwy 23 in Loganville, Tony and Sue Renger's farm was well suited for approval by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), a non-profit organization working to promote humane farming practices and stop the growth of animal factories. In the time since Sue and Tony Renger began raising hogs on their 80-acre farm, their reputation for humane, sustainable meat has made them a favorite among discerning chefs and loyal customers.

To read more about their farm, go to:

Lynn Lein, owner of Yuppie Hill Farm, has been raising chickens for over 10 years and sells eggs and meat at area farmers' markets and provides a meat CSA from her farm in Burlington, Wisconsin. Lynn began supplying the Co-op with fresh eggs after purchasing her operation from Allmosta Farm in Delavan, who had already been supplying Willy Street Co-op with cage-free eggs.
Yuppie Hill Farm's chickens enjoy an open barn system with rollout nesting boxes designed to let the freshly laid egg roll gently out of the back of the box where it's later collected.

To read the short Producer Profile on Yuppie Hill Farm go to:

On the docket to be a stop on this year's Annual Co-op Farm Tour, Steve and Beth Albert run Prairie Bluff Farm in Mt. Horeb. Offering organic, sustainably raised eggs and meat from their farm, this family farm is also a CSA working cooperatively with Vermont Valley Community Farm (vegetables) and Dream Farm (goat cheese) to offer a wide variety for CSA members.

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Romanesco, Cucumbers, Arugula, Sorrel, Onions, Brussels Sprouts, Basil
On 110 acres near Sun Prairie, the JenEhr Farm, owned and operated by Kay Jensen and Paul Ehrhardt continues to produce quality organic produce for their wholesale accounts as well as a large CSA and farmers' markets. On our Farm Tour visit a few years ago, Kay and Paul demonstrated their movable chicken coops that allow the birds to be protected from predators while on pasture, helping to build soil fertility and provide beneficial integrated pest management.

Red Peppers, Green Peppers, Serrano Peppers, Poblano Peppers, Asparagus, Collards, Kale, Chard, Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Muskmelon, Watermelon, Cucumbers, Summer Squash, Tah Tsai, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Cabbages, Mizuna, Mustard Greens, Lettuces, Leeks, Fennel, Radishes, Snow Peas, Sugar Peas
After choosing Evansville, Wisconsin to relocate their organic farm, Steve Pincus and Beth Kazmar moved to their new land in 2002. Now growing about 50 crops, Tipi Produce has long been a preferred supplier the Co-op with for their famous carrots.

It took a while to see the results they were looking for. Steve says, "The farm keeps improving, like a good organic farm should. When it was our first years here, the soil quality was just mediocre. The organic cycles weren't working in the soil yet and by about the fifth year, it started to come together. And it's better, so that crop health and quality is better, because the soil is better and we know it. These soils are really different than any other farm than I've ever used so it took a while to figure out just what its strengths were."
Read the whole story at:

Gene and Donna Woller, owners of Gentle Breeze Honey in Mt. Horeb have been producing their raw honey since 1965 and it has been available at Willy Street Co-op since the early 1990s.

"All of our honey is Wisconsin only. We've got bees in Fitchburg, Mt. Horeb, Pardeeville, but what you have to remember is that honey is regional. If you drive 100 miles east, west, north or south, you're going to see pretty much the same clover plants and nectar sources. I like to keep things close to home. My real end goal is that if you and I can go out into the bee yard and take a taste of honey right out of the hive and then go into the honey house and take it out of one of the jars to taste and say, 'This tastes exactly the same,' that's my goal."

To read what the buzz is all about, check them out at: http:

Scallions, Ramps, Spinach, Chard, Winter Squash, Onions, Watercress, Dandelion Greens, Radishes, Lacinato Kale
Farming together on the family's homestead in Viola, the three Haucke children—Jessica, Rufus and Jacob—have reinvigorated the land purchased by their parents for use as a dairy farm in 1976. Now, the three siblings have brought the farm into organic certification and transformed the business into a thriving hub of food and local Fair Trade. Growing on a full 120 acres to satisfy their wholesale accounts, large CSA, or to feed their dairy herd.

Read their profile at:

With the state's first certified-organic cranberry bog, the Ruesch Century Farm represents a more sustainable way of cranberry farming in and among the state's largest cranberry-growing region of Wisconsin Rapids.
Part of an enclave of Swiss settlers, the family maintained a dairy operation for over 100 years until 1990 when Tom Ruesch began growing the state's first organic cranberries on a lower portion of the farm's 80 acres. The farm's new owners—Tom's son Brian and his wife, Mary Ruesch—hand-harvest their acre of organic cranberries and send nearly 15 percent of that crop to Willy Street Co-op.
To read the full Profile, go to:

Apples, Pears
Over the last 29 years Ellen and Bob Lane have nurtured 38 organic acres of orchard in the Wisconsin River Valley near Ridgeway. Specializing in heirloom and exotic varieties of fruit, they remain committed to only hand-picking the fruits at precisely the right time before being delivered to stores and restaurants.

Steve and Darlene Pinnow's Pinn-Oak Ridge Farm overlooks the Turtle Valley in southeastern Wisconsin. All of the Pinnow's sheep are held/sheltered over the winter months in the farm's barns, but are primarily raised on pasture, and in addition are fed only a vegetarian diet of corn and soybeans.
To read a short synopsis of our trip to Pinn-Oak Ridge Farm on the 2007 Annual Co-op Farm Tour, go to: http:

Ela Orchard is not organic, but they utilize Integrated Pest Management (IPM) that strives to understand the life cycles of both detrimental and beneficial insects. Bob Willard and Ed Ela tend 20 acres of apples with 1200 trees producing 35 different varieties of apples and a few different kinds of pears in Rochester, WI.

Raspberries, Asparagus
Matt Smith and Susan Lampert Smith established Blue Valley Gardens in 1984 when they bought a century-old, run-down dairy farm with the intention of growing good, clean food for their family. Since then, they have expanded to provide ayear-round supply of various foods for thousands of Wisconsin consumers at grocery co-ops, restaurants, institutions and the Dane County Farmers' Market.
Blue Valley Gardens is Willy Street Co-op's primary source for local asparagus.
To read the entire Producer Profile, go to:

Herbal Teas, Herbs
Growing hundreds of species on their land in North Freedom in the rolling Baraboo Hills region, Jane Hawley Stevens and Dave Stevens offer several Purely Local herbal teas and medicinal herbs among their large line of wellness items. Despite the harsh Wisconsin climate, Four Elements cultivates a cornucopia of organic herbs from astragulus to echinacea to St. John's Wort, all fit to enhance the body's functioning.

Human Nature Nutrition and Wellness Tai-Chi Center