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.


Tending to the Time We Take

When I first traveled to Senegal in 2012 for a farmer to farmer volunteer project, it was during the heart of the rainy season in August. The smell of ocean, fish, palm oil and traffic permeated the air as I arrived in a foot of water at the airport in Dakar.

Since then, Senegal has continued to flow into my farm life and professional journey—and the suddenness of the Saloum's riverine current combined with the predictability of tides gives me pause in considering what is in greater demand now than our attention? What during our brief time on this planet do we need to attend to most? I carried this question with me as I washed ashore in Senegal this past November, supporting a Farmer to Farmer project working with the women farmers who are just getting started with organic vegetable production in Thiangalahene Village southeast of Kaolack. Starting anything new is overwhelming. Their are myriad tasks you need to tend to, let alone the possibilities to explore for your markets. What has helped in my own farm journey is having opportunities to learn and share knowledge, resources with other farmers and eaters for perspectives and advice as well as engaging expert knowledge. This is why I am so attracted to the F2F program model and so appreciative of the opportunity to volunteer—supporting my farmer peers with insights I have learned about what to tend to when getting started.

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Alphabet Soup of Farming Gratitude

I was out walking 'Up and Down the Hill' with my mother and a friend as part of the La Valle celebration this past summer and we were talking of relationships with our mothers and all the gratitude, headaches, tensions, and celebrations that come with it. My friend shared that in coming to terms with her mother's aging, she and her sister were putting together the ABC's of appreciation –a reflection of what they have learned and learned to appreciate about their mother over the years.

As I tuck in the farm for the winter months, exhaling from the frost-nipped fields, I thought I'd share in the ABC's of all the things that I have learned and appreciated from Mother Earth at the farm community this season beginning with:

Autonomy - and interdependence. Our food forests continue to subtley and not so subtely teach us about how to best design perennial polycultures of multi-purpose plants so we might share resources, create networks of mutual support in growing our own food, fodder, fertility, fuel, 'farm-a-cueticals' and fun. And like our orchard guilds, personally, I farm in part because I enjoy the autonomy in decision making, running a small business, and finding my niche. At the same time I reminded of how much as farmers, we rely on others to grow food in partnership with the land and our community.

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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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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.

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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 market. 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 most people meanwhile, dirt is just something to keep out of the carpet.

As an ecological farmer of course, the soil and its constant health and improvement must be front and center on my radar. So it was with appropriate sheepishness that I admitted to our farm members in the April Hilltop newsletter that I know nothing about soil.

This is not entirely true.

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Humus - sphere

That the United Nations has declared 2015 the International Year of Soil has been a good prompt for me to go out and -- um, have you got the windows closed? – actually learn something about the soil. This is a bit awkward to admit, but as someone who's been farming, if modestly, (occasionally immodestly, when it's warm) for the past twenty years, I know virtually nothing about the substance on which I rely for a substantial portion of my income. Of course, like anyone who works the land, I've come to know when the soil is tired or burgeoning, healthy or depleted, but this is an instinctual thing, developed inevitably from years of having the soil between my hands, knowing how it should feel, seeing how it absorbs water, observing what weeds are present, which vegetables are doing well or poorly.

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Let the Soil Speak...

Unearthing what might happen when soil microbes, curiosity, and art are stitched together...

The United Nations has declared 2015 to be the International Year of the Soil. As a local Sauk County farmer, I am delighted to see the world's attention directed toward this miraculous substance, the preservation and maintenance of which are among my daily duties. As a trained soil scientist, I can describe the physical, chemical and biological propertis of the soil, but there is far more we DON't understand about how soil biology transforms the once-living back into life's components. Most folks, meanwhile, regard this substrate of terrestrial life merely as something to scrub out of the carpet.

So let the soil speak!

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