FRESH

Farmers Raising Ecologically Sustainable Healthy
Food for Southern Wisconsin

FRESH Blog

 

Blog by Rob McClure
Hilltop Farm
2015-09-08 14:01:36

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Field of Vision

The United Nations has declared 2015 the International Year of Soil, and none too soon. The stuff keeps sloughing off the continent into the rivers and oceans, mostly under the constant wheel of industrial agriculture which treats this substrate of terrestrial life as if it were a widget machine, ever happy to oblige the beck and call of the commodities markets. Though soil is the alpha and omega of agriculture, a good number of farmers still don't seem to reckon as much by their behavior. To ... Read More



Blog by Roger Stewart
Trail Ridge Acres
2015-08-04 12:54:58

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August Bounty

If you have ever thought about joining a CSA this is the month that you should remember next spring when you have the opportunity to sign up. It is August and the dividends from your spring investment start to roll in with every delivery.

August is the month of produce! The summer vegetables that everyone looks forward to are now available. You no longer have to eat those plastic store bought tomatoes. You can enjoy juicy sweet tomatoes. They aren’t the salad bar pale red hard disks. No ... Read More



Blog by Marc & MaryAnn Bellazzini
Campo di Bella LLC
2015-03-05 11:35:58

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March is coming in like a lion....

So we're finally seeing longer days here on the farm. The winter has been a bit hard on everyone and everything and we are all looking forward to green pastures, vegetables baking in the sun and good meals with a fantastic glass of wine. Our new winery has been open for the last month and although most of my farm friends on this blog are still itching to get outside and start working hard, we've been at it for the last month with a new schedule. I must admit, as much as we farmers try to come ... Read More



Blog by Marc & MaryAnn Bellazzini
Campo di Bella LLC
2014-11-16 08:48:03

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We are truly Thankful!

So we are only weeks away from Thanksgiving and we truly have so much to be thankful for this year here at Campo di Bella Winery and Organic Family Farm. As some of my fellow farmers have mentioned in past posts, late fall/winter is the time when we begin to evaluate, develop and plan for next year's CSA season. However, I need to reflect all that got done on the farm this past season. We decided to build a winehouse and begin to make wine commercially. We have tended our grapevines for the ... Read More



Blog by Eric Elderbrock
Elderberry Hill Farm
2014-11-02 22:20:29

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Planting Garlic

Dear Garlic lovers,

As it starts to feel like winter I often find myself thinking of the season in the past tense. I think about the bright tomatoes and peppers and all of the work that went into raising them from tiny little seeds. I remember seeding, transplanting, and weeding a multitude of different crops. This week though, we have an exciting project that links the past season and future ones: planting garlic.

Garlic is one of the easiest crops to save as seed because each clove grow ... Read More



Blog by Buck Kurt
Johnyboy Farms LLC
2014-09-29 17:43:52

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Harvesting The Goods

Well September is the time on our farm where everything is coming to an end. The trees are changing color pumpkins are ready. The last of out sweet corn is ready to be picked, and squash is finally here. This is the month where I finish freezing our sweet corn dig the rest of the potatoes and carrots and start picking apples. We also finish our canning and making out applesauce.
We are also starting to get ready for next year. We have to protect our strawberries from the harsh winter make sure ... Read More



Blog by Delia Gallo
Kings Hill Farm
2014-08-06 14:26:48

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The Delicate and Delicious Balance

August is always an interesting month. The threat of the hot, dry days turning into hot, dry weeks is ever present, and although it is the last month of the meteorological summer, winding down is not on anyone's mind anytime soon. At King's Hill Farm, we only just hit the halfway point of delivering weekly boxes to our 350 CSA members, and so sowing seeds, transplanting, and hiring new fall interns are the order of the day.

It is certainly a delicious time to be enjoying the harvest. The ... Read More



Blog by Roger Stewart
Trail Ridge Acres
2014-07-02 20:31:37

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Transitions

Change is an important part of life and it impacts us every day. This has been a year of transition at Trail Ridge Acres. Managing a CSA and the land surrounding it is a full time job from January to January. After retiring from a desk job, it may be obvious why a transition might be in order.

Over 10 years ago my wife and I stepped back from our day jobs and moved to the country to manage our newly purchased acreage in Iowa County. There was forest land, old pasture which looked like an ... Read More



Blog by Rob McClure
Hilltop Farm
2014-06-12 10:09:51

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Malus Aforethought

The first fruit trees we planted at Hilltop were apples.
We liked them, they grew well in Wisconsin, and Alar was the commercial food scare of the moment. My father and I picked up a couple that looked interesting at a local nursery, brought them back home and plopped them in the ground.
Thirty years later, when Erin and I set out to turn an acre of the front pasture into an orchard, apples didn't even make the long list. Our two older trees provided halfway decent fruit most years, and o ... Read More



Blog by Tyler & Kate Rowe
Burr Oak Gardens LLC
2014-05-20 12:34:06

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May Means Busy, Busy, Busy!!

The month of May is one of the busiest months of the year on our farm. It is also one of the months where we get the least amount of sleep. Long days and sometimes long nights when we have to go out and frost protect our strawberries mean very tired workers. The to do list is never ending and we are seemingly always in a rush to get the next task completed, especially when there is rain in the forecast.

This spring has been cooler and wetter than usual (however every year seems to be unusual ... Read More



Blog by Kriss and Shannon Marion
Circle M Market Farm
2014-03-05 11:15:45

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Reflections on a Winter Well Spent


The days are stretching out at last and the hens are laying again – thanks to the same increasing sunshine which gives their eggs such a vibrant orange color. While we are still under a full blanket of snow in our little Wisconsin valley, things are shifting here on the farm. Winter, though long and late, is fading fast and spring is rapidly approaching. It’s time to start seeds inside, though we’ve hesitated to begin in a year so cold, since those seeds, once sprouted and in need of light, w ... Read More



Blog by John Binkley
Equinox Community Farm
2014-01-24 10:53:00

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Our Winter

We have been trying our best to savor the calm and the relative quiet that winter brings for the farm. The rhythm of winter is certainly slower, more like a sleeping heartbeat than the rapid trilling of spring or the drumming footsteps of summer and fall. We wake up a bit later, we take our time feeding the cats, the goats, the pigs. And then we go back to the warmth of the woodstove to plan for next year and remember our hobbies that are long forgotten the rest of the year.

We've both t ... Read More



Blog by John Binkley
Equinox Community Farm
2013-10-20 20:10:21

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Lessons

As another CSA season comes to a close, we can't help but reflect back upon it and all that we have learned. Each year on the farm we have been presented with radically different challenges and predicaments. Each year the landscape has been added to and taken from as it reflects the people who have spent their time and placed their hands upon it. We think it's important to recount what was learned; what worked and what didn't, what made us laugh and what made us cry. After all, it's not jus ... Read More



Blog by Marc & MaryAnn Bellazzini
Campo di Bella LLC
2013-10-12 10:44:25

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We're nearing the end...

So this week is the last week of our 20 week CSA veggie season and somehow the task list is still a mile long. As we end our CSA season, we begin to prepare for the following year and CSA season. We harvest everything from the fields, we plant the garlic and jerusalem artichokes for next summer, we prep, freeze and/or can all the remaining veggies in the fields, send the cows in to graze for a few weeks, nurture many young leafy greens for Thanksgiving and prep the fields for winter. In the me ... Read More



Blog by John and Dena Schlitz
Forest Run Farm LLC
2013-07-31 07:55:52

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What's in the Greenhouse NOW?


So I was walking by the greenhouse with a friend, and he asked, “What is
still growing in there?” So we went in and checked out the celery, green
onions and some of the lettuce, broccoli and Asian greens. He
was amazed that we still had things to go in the ground at the end of
July. I shared that we start plants until late August for fall and
overwintering. It always seems to amaze people that CSA farms seem to
always be planting and transplanting. But, how else would we be able to
sup ... Read More



Blog by Tyler & Kate Rowe
Burr Oak Gardens LLC
2013-05-10 16:56:18

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May on the Farm

May always seems like the busiest time of year on our farm. January is relaxing and exciting as seed packets start to arrive. February is nice because the greenhouses are up and running and onions have been seeded. Time in March is spent working on equipment and connecting with old/new/prospective members. April the weather finally starts to turn and you might be able to get into the fields to start planting. But in May, it seems like there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done.
... Read More



Blog by Rob McClure
Hilltop Farm
2013-04-18 13:09:44

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Making Our Money Green

As producer-members of FRESH, we tend to be aware of the role that farmers play at the intersection of ecology and economics. This is often difficult territory to traverse; doing the right thing by the land is usually more labor-intensive and and/or costly than the end-arounds of conventional agriculture, inevitably making our product more expensive.
We are quite used to thinking about our farms wholistically and ecologically; should we not also be thinking ecologically about the larger econo ... Read More



Blog by Kriss and Shannon Marion
Circle M Market Farm
2013-03-06 10:14:42

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Seeds! From Plant to Plate

Things are popping here at Circle M Market Farm, in spite of the foot-deep blanket of snow that cushions the farm on this early March day. Popping right out of the soil, in fact! Skinny shoots of onions, shallots, parsley, lettuce, celery, kale and broccoli have exploded from their seed coats and are pushing first leaves toward the sun in our cozy humid greenhouse.

While we were talking via cellphone recently, a friend asked me what was going on at the farm. When I told her I was standing ins ... Read More



Blog by Roger Stewart
Trail Ridge Acres
2013-02-08 21:15:09

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What are FRESH growers doing this time of year?


Winter does give us a break from planting, harvesting and delivering tasty fresh vegetables. However, it is our time to plan, order seeds, fix equipment, recruit members, and attend educational meetings. Winter is where the foundation for the next growing season is laid.

During the past month we have ordered and received our seeds for planting. We will be getting seed potatoes and onion plants after the first of March. We will be starting leeks and onions towards the end of the month or ... Read More



Blog by Roger Stewart
Trail Ridge Acres
2012-10-19 19:34:51

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Tribute to Trail Ridge Acres

(While the title is specific it could apply to any CSA)

Twas the afternoon of a weekday
When inside customers' tummies,
Family members were getting hungry
and dreaming of something yummy.

And mammas readied their pots... with cheer and great care,
asking children to set tables, so it wouldn't be bare.

When what to their wondering ears...suddenly did they hear,
A car engine in the driveway. Vegetables were near! ... Read More



Blog by John Binkley
Equinox Community Farm
2012-07-15 20:26:14

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The Power of CSA

As the drought and hot weather continue with no signs of relenting all kinds of farmers in the area and much of the rest of the corn belt are looking at a hard year. Conventional grain farmers are expecting a potential yield loss over 90%, and for those that lack crop insurance that equates to losses counted in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Anyone raising animals, whether for dairy or meat, is already seeing feed costs rise and the market value of their animals decline due to anticipated s ... Read More



Blog by Tyler & Kate Rowe
Burr Oak Gardens LLC
2012-07-02 19:09:03

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What FRESH offers us

This year is our first year as members of FRESH. We feel like it is a great resource for us as farmers. With our membership we now have a built in network of other farmers who are located in our area of the state to bounce ideas off of, or at the very least bemoan the weather with at the end of the season.

This is only our third season, so there is a lot to learn, especially when it comes to pest and disease control. This spring we had an outbreak of cutworms in our cabbage field. Instead ... Read More



Blog by Kriss and Shannon Marion
Circle M Market Farm
2012-04-30 10:05:38

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Get Growing! Learning to Garden with your CSA

When I first started growing for CSA members six years ago, I was always surprised when I found out that a customer also maintained a vegetable garden. I guess I underestimated how much folks were interested not only in eating fresh and local, but also in being intimately connected with their food. This is a trend that has grown tremendously in the past few years, and now I find that almost half of my CSA members work a garden of their own. For some it’s a neighborhood plot, a square in their b ... Read More



Blog by Roger Stewart
Trail Ridge Acres
2012-04-07 19:32:55

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April Plantings

Each month a different FRESH farmer shares their insights about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and in particular their CSA. Our gardening season started in March with the tapping of 20 Sugar Maple trees. Their sap is cooked down outside on a a custom built wood stove. The maple season was cut short by record breaking warm temperatures, but we did have enough syrup for our CSA members. The warm temperatures quickly turned our attention to our vegetable and flower garden, which is like ... Read More



Blog by Marc & MaryAnn Bellazzini
Campo di Bella LLC
2012-03-10 17:21:30

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Spring has arrived...

For the last few years, I have been feeling that spring didn't actually arrive until we tilled the soil and started planting the vegetables in the ground sometime in April or May after the last frost. Once we got sheep, it wasn't until the first lamb arrived that Spring was really here. Today, as I look at the calendar, it is only the 1st full week of March, we have daylight savings time this weekend and the weather turned a balmy 60 degrees earlier this week. Our first chocolate baby doll la ... Read More



Blog by Rob McClure
Hilltop Farm
2012-02-10 00:10:44

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Time to Account

It's the “idle” season for farmers and therefore time to look back and assess the productivity of the previous growing-year, if for no other reason than that the IRS wants to know.

At Hilltop, we look at our productivity in some detail at the end of each growing season in order to account to our subscribers what exactly it is they've gotten for the ungodly sum we've charged them.

In looking at the numbers this past year, I was modestly encouraged – not by the fact that Erin and I are sti ... Read More



Blog by Eric Elderbrock
Elderberry Hill Farm
2012-01-31 12:22:08

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Hunting is another way to highlight the connection between us and our food

A single coyote howled. Almost immediately two or three more joined in the song of life and death. I paused and lifted my head to listen for a moment. I knew that they wouldn’t move any closer while I was still there, but nevertheless I felt a surge of adrenaline and began to work faster. Finally I finished freeing the deer’s organs and stood, physically and mentally exhausted.

A few days ago I cleaned and butchered a deer for the first time. I can’t claim the kill, which belongs to my friend ... Read More



Blog by John and Dena Schlitz
Forest Run Farm LLC
2011-11-18 06:13:14

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Not Farming?

​​At this time of year the questions start: So now that your not farming, what are you doing?

I usually laugh it off and offer the questioner the opportunity to come and "not farm" with me for a while.

We still have a farm stand that we are harvesting and packing for the last regular pickup today, and next week we have our Harvest Baskets that get packed and picked up. It is always great when the well water coming out of the hose is steaming as we wash the dirt off the leeks. ... Read More



Blog by John and Dena Schlitz
Forest Run Farm LLC
2011-04-21 15:50:24

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Another perspective

I want to introduce you to Forest Run Farm's employee of the month, Neal. Ok, we only have one employee right now at this point in season, but after starting as a worker share in 2010 and ending up being employed with us into the late fall, he has returned and become a very important part of our daily farming productivity. He will be sharing his farming experience at Forest Run Farm on the FRESH site and the Forest Run Farm newsletter.
Now, here is Neal's story:

“If you don’t like the wea ... Read More



Blog by John Binkley
Equinox Community Farm
2011-03-09 12:53:27

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Signs of Spring

Despite the fact that I can look out my window right now to see falling snow adding to the several inches we got last night there are definitely signs of spring around the farm. All the signs of increasing life, from the chipmunk out of it's winter hibernation that I saw running around this morning to the several thousand geese that have flown over me in the last couple of days, indicate an increase in the pace of activities on the farm.

One of the most significant changes during this season ... Read More



Blog by John Binkley
Equinox Community Farm
2011-01-05 14:21:23

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Winter

While it is true that winter is the “off season” on the farm, it is far from true that us farmers are left with nothing to do over the winter months. There are always the numerous projects that there wasn’t time to take care of during the growing season, and more importantly all of the planning for the coming season needs to be taken care of.

One of the most challenging aspects of this planning can be represented by the annual seed order. For most home gardeners the process of ordering seed ... Read More