Farm Blog

Thank you again for braving the blizzard to celebrate, connect with great food, and 'planting an orchard'! Just imagine all those future cherry trees (don't forget to squat:-).
I am so uplifted from all the good vibes, intentions, laughter and seeds shared and planted.

We were able to raise $850.00 in funds! This will go a long way, thank you! Additionally, with all the seeds donated today and from what I've gleaned from others, The women growers in the Sine-Saloum region will be able to plant out a couple hundred row feet/farm. In the past we've planted shared 'demonstration beds' ie since many of the farmers share space/land to grow on we've constructed seeds beds to trial different varieties, plant insectory herbs and flowers and share techniques. From there seeds are harvested and shared forward amongst the individual farmers. So in essence your generosity helped plant teaching/learning/eating/

sharing beds of veggie, herb, and flower goodness!

I will honor my commitment and extend the immense gratitude, generosity that was shared during the workshop with the women farmers in the following ways:

Work with NCBA CLUSA Farmer to Farmer Program to transfer funds and mail seeds.
I'll also email and share highlights, photos forward later this week in celebration of our workshop success.

I am tentatively set to travel there Nov/Dec. or January in 2016.

I also finally remembered the name of third grower group, JUBO (means widespread). If you're interested in learning more about how they got started, here's a link to an interview I did as part of my last Farmer to Farmer adventure in Senegal.

I Will keep you in the loop as the project evolves and thanks again for sharing your generous spirit!

For the chocolate lovers:
Becky Otte, who made the amazing truffles, has more of her chocolate goodness to share and is selling some of her creations just in time for Valentines. if you're interested send her an email:

Also Here is a link to Roots Chocolate website.

For the Fruit Lovers:

I've enclosed a handout of some of the different fruits we grow at our farm as well as a flyer highlighting this season's events at the farm! We'd love to have you venture out and tour the orchard, come visit us (though not nearly as cool as the orchard poses we did during the workshop).

Thank you again for helping me transition from being a butterfly weed seed (ie wind pollinated, not knowing where or how my intentions, projects might stick) to more of an oak or cashew seeds - wherein I can deepen my awareness, provide support in the same place(s) in Senegal for the growers and in my backyard in Wisconsin:-). Here's to planting the seeds of the as yet to be imagined on and off the yoga mat! Wishing you all much abundance.

Happy Mid-winter!

Yours in hardy kiwi,

PS If you are into exploring the planting side as well as enjoying more local fruit creations, we'll be hosting a Local Fruit Tasting May 16, details on our website.


You're Invited: Unearthing a Soil Quilt

Sunday, October 11 from 10 - 11:30 am at the Rock Springs Public Library

Celebrate the 2015 International Year of Soils by honoring and learning about the soil community locally. Unearth and share stories with local farmers, soil experts about our connection to our foodshed. Celebrate the making of the Soil Quilt and resulting artwork, stories. Light refreshments served. Co-hosted by Sauk/Columbia County Farmers Union. Take the Farm Art D'tour and see the Soil Quilt and other Art and Agriculture/Food highlights following the event.

Unearthing a Soil Quilt square at Autumn Larch Farm. Photo by Jane Hansen

Unearthing a Soil Quilt square at Autumn Larch Farm. Photo by Jane Hansen

More about the Unearthing of a Soil Quilt:

The United Nations has declared 2015 the International Year of Soil.

To most people, soil is little more than something to keep out of the carpet. The acknowledgement of the importance of soil from such a lofty quarter is therefore undoubtedly a good thing, especially if it may lead to policies which better preserve what is at once a fragile, imperiled planetary organ and the repository of all terrestrial life.

But, as farmers, we thought it was important in this year to let the soil speak for itself.

Each of the cloth panels of this quilt was originally distributed to one of several dozen participants in 8 states who volunteered to bury it for two to three weeks in a spot they considered of particular significance, then to exhume, rinse and return it.

Contributors were also asked to write about, or otherwise document, whatever meaning they derived from the experience. Their communications can be found in the binder in the “soil profile” hole in front of the quilt.

An additional round of participants was then invited to stitch together the individual segments in a series of old-style “bees” during which they were encouraged to ruminate about the importance of soil and/or the meaning of place in their lives.

Meet the artists.

Microorganisms play a central role in fermenting and preserving our foods, of course. But neither could we grow our food, let alone digest it, without them. The 100 trillion bacteria, archaea and fungi present in our digestive tracts are essential to metabolizing the food we eat, just as they are in the ruminants and other animals we use as food stocks.

In plants, rhizobia associated with the roots of leguminous species are famously necessary for fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere into bio-available forms which plants need in order to grow. But thousands of other bacteria along with fungi and protozoa perform the final levels of mastication and processing of once-living material which reduce it to the molecular building blocks that plants – often through the bacterial or fungal communities symbiotic with their roots – can use to produce the foods we and other animals consume.

Why a quilt?

One reason was strategic. The process of hand-work in a “bee” provides a conducive environment for slower, more reflective engagement with others than might otherwise be had in conversation, just as doodling is sometimes employed to more fully absorb what is being said. We hoped this would elicit a richer exchange among participants.

Some associations between quilts and rural life are also obvious. Farmland is often likened to a patchwork quilt when viewed from the air. The homely art of producing quilts was an essential craft in rural areas before the advent of central heating kept sleeping quarters above freezing during the winter. The utility and beauty of a quilt (as with much domestic work) were typically invisible to public view and could easily go unappreciated in the home until one found oneself shivering in bed; that the continued good offices of the soil are the result of constant care and labor by those who work the land might go equally unseen by those unfortunate enough to live in cities.

Additional reasons are more symbolic.

Community members sharing in a soil quilting bee as part of a Madison Permaculture Guild meeting. Photo by Erin Schneider

Community members sharing in a soil quilting bee as part of a Madison Permaculture Guild meeting. Photo by Erin Schneider

Soil/earth, as archetype, and the quilting-bee/sewing circle, as social space, are both female-associated. The topical matters of the bee were often dismissed as small talk or gossip, even though these universal modes of human discourse have more lately come to be regarded by modern behavioral science as critical tools which allow us to comprehend the motives of those unfamiliar to us, make meaning out of what might otherwise seem repetitive and trivial human narratives, and more successfully understand the nature of power-relations.

That we might now use a similar forum to extemporize on mere “dirt” seems appropriate at a time when science is only beginning to apprehend the complexity and importance of what takes place in the soil.

Erin lying down with the quilt before installing for the Farm/Art Dtour. Photo by Rob McClure

Erin lying down with the quilt before installing for the Farm/Art Dtour. Photo by Rob McClure

From the soil to our hands and through our hearts, thank you for your willingness to play in the dirt with us and see what happens when art, biology and curiosity come together. We look forward to seeing you on the 11th!

For details on this event and other happenings related to Fermentation Fest, Farm/Art Dtour October 2 – 11, visit