Heart and Grain: Meet John and Halee

By John Wepking, Meadowlark Organics and Bickford Organics  In late January, a surprise calf was born on our farm. Out of context, this may seem like a happy accident, even a bonus. However, it was still mid-winter in Wisconsin, and we were unprepared. Calving is a regular event in a beef herd, and we had been looking forward to our first calving, but we weren’t expecting any births until late April, when the weather would be warmer and the cows... Read More

BOOTSTRAP @ WILD RIDGE FARM – FARMER TRAINING

By Alissa of Wild Ridge Farm It was clear from the beginning of my farming internship at Chubby Bunny Farm that my boss, Dan Hayhurst, loved the work of growing vegetables. Most mornings I would be lying in bed, just waking up around 6:30 am, and I’d hear his truck roll up to the barn. I’d listen as Dan got out and started hauling sacks of feed out of the barn to drive out to the small flock of chickens and few pigs on pasture. This was my cue... Read More

BOOTSTRAP @ WILD RIDGE FARM – MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES ON FARM EQUIPMENT

By Joseph Dittman of Wild Ridge Farm If the farmer paused briefly from his ceaseless toil, taking up pen and paper to list the various equipment he relies on continually in his daily labor, an afternoon would surely be lost and the farmer would retire to bed with cramps in his writing hand. Roller tables, harvest crates, wash tubs, pruners, hand hoes, soil knives, drip tape, row cover, lay flat hose, pitch forks, spades, backpack sprayers—hundreds... Read More

BOOTSTRAP @ NIGHTFALL FARM – BUILDING A FARM FROM SCRATCH

By Nate Brownlee of Nightfall Farm The differences between working on an established farm and starting your own were evident this month. Rather than learning the ropes and falling into developed routines, we’re recreating some systems that have worked on other farms. We’re solving problems unique to our farm. We’re spending a lot of time cobbling together equipment and systems. And often, that costs money. The animal groups we are raising this... Read More

BOOTSTRAP @ WILD RIDGE FARM – A PERSPECTIVE ON SEEDS

By Joseph Dittman of Wild Ridge Farm Our farming livelihood rests on the success of seeds. But how strange to hold something so small in the palm of my hand and realize I’m investing a lion’s share of days, dollars, and ideas in a speck of organic matter that appears so lifeless. And yet, time and time again, the seemingly powerless soon pushes through soil, and the seemingly lifeless yields fruit in its season. If we wish to finish well, we must... Read More

BOOTSTRAP @ WILD RIDGE FARM – WHY I’M A FARMER

By Alissa of Wild Ridge Farm I am a farmer because of the way it makes me feel at the end of the day.  The physical exhaustion that my muscles carry into sleep, the weary contentment of finished labor lulling my brain to stillness.  Some days I farm solely for the satisfaction that weeding can bring.  I farm because I’ve never been very good at sitting still and because I’ve always been a morning person.  I farm because I love feeding people,... Read More

Upcoming Community Initiatives in Sustainable Agriculture Conference

The Community Initiatives in Sustainable Agriculture Conference (CISA) will take place April 5-7, 2013 at Lawrence University and Riverview Gardens in Appleton, WI.  The mission is to provide the necessary community, resources, and experience to establish and support new farmers.  The conference will be a venue for young people to engage in conversations and educational activities, featuring farmer panels, workshops, open space discussions, local... Read More

Hang Out with the Young Farmers at the MOSES Conference

Headed to the MOSES (Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service) Conference this February? Connect with other young farmers there at the NYFC-led workshop “Organizing for Our Collective Success: Beginning Farmer Resources & Coalition Building!“ NYFC’s Sophie Ackoff will be discussing how to organize with other beginning farmers and ranchers in your area to help each other succeed.  NYFC’s regional chapters foster the... Read More

With BFRDP, Grassworks Resists Corporate Dairying by Training Young Ranchers

In Wisconsin, as in most of the country, the path to becoming a teacher or a lawyer is well defined. But suppose you want to become a dairy farmer without a farm to inherit: That career path is less certain. And, with an aging population of farmers, it’s more important than ever to educate the next generation of ranchers. Many farms without successors are being sold to become large animal confinement operations. Wisconsin’s Bureau of Apprenticeship... Read More