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.


Avoiding the Hazards: 2018 Retrospective

I've often likened vegetable farming to golf -- each year a completely different course, unknown in its layout and length, with novel demands on one's skill-set, exhilarating to engage (inevitably) no matter how draining and demoralizing the final tee. If this comparison is apt, I can say the back nine were especially hard on us in 2018.

Farming is famous for its yearly gauntlet of perils, primarily involving the vicissitudes of weather and markets. At Hilltop, we can at least be thankful to avoid the latter since we sell primarily retail.

But Nature swings a large bat.

As growers, we hedge against calamity in whatever ways are possible – row-cover in the Spring, seven-foot deer fencing, water-catchments to bridge the droughts, obsessive mulching to hold soil-moisture and protect against pounding rains. Much of our preparation is geared toward managing the hydrologic cycle.

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Post humus reflections - Celebrating the Soil

Well after 7 months, 37 soil fabric pieces and resulting soil profiles, 204 square knots (with homespun yarn by laura/orange cat community farm), roughly 15 x 23' of fabric, 3 group stitching sessions including support from a hedgehog, 7 yards of wonder under, 4 poems, 18 stories, 49 photos, millions of microbes, a few choice words during the sewing process:-), and countless intentions infused with love later...the Soil Quilt has been unearthed!

Thank you for helping provide a platform for which the soil to have it's say and for your humble and heartfelt collaborations with the humusphere during the International Year of Soil!

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Mid-Season Prospectus

We routinely refer to memberships in CSA farms as “shares,” but until recently the aptness of that terminology hadn't struck me. But the other day I wondered what a CSA “bond” would look like.

In a sense, we already know. There are a number of farms – often larger ones, but not exclusively – which make arrangements to buy-in produce from CSA colleagues or another local farm in the case that certain crops fail or do unusually badly on the home soil. In one way, this may be looked at as simple conscientiousness on the part of the grower, but it is not uncontroversial in CSA circles. Many Community Supported Agriculture traditionalists view the at-risk nature of the buy-in by the member as essential to a model in which the community truly supports the agriculture. With too much guaranteeing by the farmer, the relationship with the eater turns into something more like bond-issuance than the purchase of an equity share. The farmer essentially lines up “backing” (albeit from other farmers rather than a bank) so that she/he can guarantee a return on a subscriber's membership fee, presumably one which, at worst, represents a modest premium for the purchaser over the value of food that could be got at market during the same time-frame.

Farmers who hew to a more share-based approach can occasionally be heard to cluck their tongues at this sort of arrangement, but it would be wise to be careful and not just because our colleagues deserve our respect. The CSA market has broadened enormously over the past 20 years and – as in the financial markets – bonds may be more approprite for some than stocks, especially if it gets them to eat from fields in the nearby countryside rather than California. Though I've not yet heard of such a thing, I wonder if farms seeking to expand might capitalize by issuing multi-year bonds in addition to their shares, paying out modest dividends in vegetables while using the cash-flow to incerease their productive capacity.

But that's not what I sat down to write about.

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