Author Archives: Michelle Miller

Sprouting New Tree Nut Businesses in the Midwest: Five Case Studies

Are you thinking about organizing a business to process nuts? You might want to take a look at this executive summary that covers five other nut processing and marketing businesses. Upload the document from this link: sproutingtreenutfinalweb

Growers in the Midwest are awakening to tree nuts as a possible source of farm income and a way to diversify their production. While U.S. almond production is based exclusively in California, the Midwest is well-suited for the production of black walnuts, hazelnuts, hickory nuts, heartnuts and chestnuts, and pecans will grow in the region’s southern states.

Increasing tree nut production in the Midwest can potentially increase the sustainability of agriculture and food systems in this region. Diverse agroforestry systems, including systems with nut trees, have the potential to provide farm revenue, environmental benefits and resilience in the face of variable weather and extreme weather events. Edible nut production can be an integral part of diversified agriculture, including forest farming, which incorporates a variety of perennial plants. It is especially well suited to marginal land in rural areas. Because nut trees don’t require annual tillage, they hold the soil in place during extreme rainfall and wind events. Hazelnuts provide soil cover throughout most of the year. As part of a complex cropping system, nuts and other perennial tree crops can contribute to productive landscapes that help address the challenges of climate change, pests and diseases.

The report chapters include:

  • building a supply chain
  • production challenges
  • processing options
  • marketing and pricing unique products
  • lessons learned

This research emerged from regional work to support the emerging hazelnut industry, and will be posted on the Hazelnut link on this site, as well as at the UW-CIAS site.


Forest Garden Design class at the Arboretum

Saturday, October 3, 1-4 p.m.
Learn to garden like a forest and grow plants for food, fuel, and other functions! In this class instructors and participants will discuss mushroom cultivation, site considerations, plant guilds, plant selection, and forest garden designs. Plant lists and resources will be provided. Instructors: Marian Farrior and Amy Jo Dusick. Fee: $21 ($18 FOA).
Registration Link:

Driftless Farm Crawl near Dubuque

Maps & Field Guides Now Available
THIS SATURDAY – September 12th – 1:00-5:00PM

Grab a map and go! The Driftless Farm Crawl is a free self-guided tour of five local farms & community food projects including Four Mounds Community Garden, Sageville School Garden, Hideaway Garden (an organic vegetable farm), Hellert Family Farm (a fifth-generation homestead) & Park Farm Winery.

Visit one site, or travel to all five by car or bike along the Heritage Trail!
Field guides are available online, at the Dubuque Food Co-Op, Food Store, or Iowa Welcome Center this week. You can also grab a copy at the Friday night Weekend Kick-Off Event at the National Mississippi River Museum – A Free Screening of Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective at 6:30PM.

Each site will feature kids activities, samples, farm tours & demonstrations.


Local Government Summit on Energy and Resilience

November 18, 2015
University of WI – Stevens Point
The Wisconsin Academy, through its Climate & Energy Initiative, will convene a full-day leadership summit for local government leaders from Wisconsin and energy program leaders to advance clean energy, efficiency, and resilience for their communities.
The aim is to share best practices in—and identify needs for—moving communities and Wisconsin forward in curbing carbon emissions and encouraging energy innovation. This event will bring these groups together to learn what resources currently exist, and how organizations could collaborate more effectively. The intent of this summit is to build the foundation for an ongoing annual conference.
The Summit will:
  • Identify the needs, priorities, and current programs within Wisconsin local governments across the state through a pre-event survey. This will result in a report, which we will use to craft the Summit agenda.
  • Allow local governments of various sizes, and organizations that are designed to serve those municipalities in energy conservation/innovation efforts, to present and discuss their work with all attendees.
  • Provide time for group discussion among leaders with common needs to troubleshoot problems, share best practices, and develop professional networks.
  • Invite local-level media outlets to raise awareness of A) Wisconsin’s ongoing local-level leadership in energy efficiency and renewable energy, B) the needs of those local governments, and C) the state programs that exist to promote energy savings and innovation at the local level.
  • Identify options for action within the Climate Forward Report’s five “Pathways to Progress” that address municipal and local government needs in Wisconsin for cities of various sizes, which can be published on our web site.
  • Post a participant list for Wisconsin municipal and local government sustainability leaders, as well as resource organizations, engaged in responsive climate and energy strategies so they will be able to maintain contact and share their practices with each other.
For the agenda, speakers, to register or to sponsor the event, go to their web page at:

Marketing track at LaCrosse conference, July 27-29

Are you marketing products as Driftless or want to? Come share your experience and learn from others at the Northern Nut Growers conference in LaCrosse, Monday & Tuesday, July 27-29. Its not too late to register! For more information and to register, go to

Sessions & speakers on marketing and supply chains include a talk on Geographic Indication work linking the US and Europe, an international session on cashew supply chains, a session on supply chain for oils and vinegars: another session on wildcrafting nuts for market, and people from around the region building supply chains for nuts grown here.

On Monday:

Justin Gibson, VomFass, will be joining us from Madison, WI to talk about VomFass and how they work with growers and processors to deliver a high quality nut oil with a story to market.

Tom Rutledge, Hammons Products in Missouri, will talk about their supply chain, bringing wildcrafted nuts to international markets.

Bill Nash, Chestnut Growers, Inc. in Michigan, will share information on cooperative chestnut marketing.

Jeff Jensen, American Hazelnut Company, joining us from Iowa, will update us on regional hazelnut supply chain development.

On Tuesday:

Beth Barham, American Origin Products Research Foundation in Arkansas, is offering a workshop on Geographic Indication, with panelist Butch Weege past president of the Wisconsin Ginseng Growers Association, and another speaker, yet to be announced.

Karen Korsland & Amanda Sames from University of Minnesota, will talk about market research for regional hazelnut production.

Brad Paul, TechnoServe and the University of WI Land Tenure Center, will share his stories of cashew supply chains originating in Mozambique so that we can learn from international experience.

Wednesday tour – July 29:

Brad Niemcek, Kickapoo Culinary Center in Soldiers Grove, will show us the new products kitchen in this rural town and talk about hazelnut processing.

Dani Lind, Rooted Spoon in Viroqua, WI will talk a bit about the role of chefs in developing supply chains for regional food, and will show us how she does it by serving a delicious meal.

Organic corn field day – September 18th, East Troy

Breeding Corn for Organic Farmers with Organic Farmers.
Field day, Friday, September 18th, 10 AM to 3:30 PM, East Troy/Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

The Mandaamin Institute is breeding corn : 1) for high nutritional value (protein, methionine, lysine, and carotene) and taste; 2) that does not allow itself to be pollinated by GMO corn; 3) that is nitrogen efficient; 4) that combines these characteristics with good yields and dry-down. This research is funded by USDA-NRI-OREI, the Ceres Trust, and Organic Valley.

The field day will show how we are developing corn hybrids and varieties. And because this work can only succeed in conjunction with organic farmers and others, we will also highlight the work of our most local associates.

We will rendezvous at an organic café (2894 On Main) on the town square of East Troy, Wisconsin at 10 AM to see a unique partnership between market gardening and restaurant, run by the Rohrer family.

The first stop will be at the Rohrer farm. There we will view the Mandaamin Institute’s yield test plots and discuss how we are breeding for cross incompatibility with GMO corn. We will also view cover crop plantings in the corn and summer seeding berseem clover before heritage wheat. Organic farmer John Pounder will discuss his work growing and marketing open pollinated and hybrid corn varieties from our project and our cooperative work with heritage wheat varieties.

The second stop will be at the Goldstein’s organic farm (W2331 Kniep Road, Elkhorn, WI) to view the first yield trials of our N efficient hybrids. A lunch will be available there for $10 for those who register for the meal in advance. We will highlight corn bread made from our first released open pollinated variety, and eggs raised with our corn that have ultra-bright yellow-orange yolks. During lunch, cooperating corn breeder Kevin Montgomery (Montgomery Consulting, Maroa, Illinois) will speak about how to breed hardy, disease resistant corn for organic farmers.

Third stop will visit yield trials taking place on the historic Zinniker farm, which is a 75 year old biodynamic farm. There we will discuss relationships between farm management, yield trials, soil and grain quality, and weed control. John Bashaw of Pendragon specialties will show a hydraulic weeder suited for weed control in row crops, vegetables, and test plots.

Finally, those who wish to meet and talk further can meet back at the café for free tea or coffee.

Topics will include:
 Breeding corn for organic farming
 Grain quality, nutritional value, egg quality
 Breeding N efficient corn that works with N fixing bacteria
 Cross incompatible corn that avoids GMO contamination
 Cover crops, and organic and biodynamic soil management
 Weeds and weed control equipment
 Heritage wheats
 An organic café

The workshop is co-sponsored by the Biodynamic Association of North America, Pounder Bros Farm, Rohrer Enterprises, and Pendragon Specialties.

Cooperative Board Leadership Roundtable

Join us in Madison on August 4th
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As the business world grows increasingly more complex, an effective board is critical to cooperative’s success. How do board leaders balance responding to changing conditions while remaining focused on the long-term goals and needs of the cooperative? How might your board improve performance to better meet the needs of its members?Join other cooperative board leaders on August 4th in Madison, WI, to share challenges and solutions that your cooperative board is facing. The Cooperative Board Leadership Roundtable is a flexible and interactive forum that will focus on the following topics:

  • Role of the board chair and other leadership positions
  • Facilitating effective meetings
  • Strategies for good decision making processes and developing a more efficient board
  • CEO review and succession planning
  • Best practices in board leadership.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to network with your cooperative board peers!

Cooperative Board Leadership Roundtable
Fluno Center, Madison, WI
August 4, 2015
Register Now
Logistics and other Information
9:00AM – Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:30AM – Roundtable begins
2:00PM – Roundtable adjournsContact Information:
Anne Reynolds, Executive Director
UW Center for Cooperatives
(608) 263-4775
Registration and Cost: $100 per participant includes light breakfast, lunch and onsite parking at the Fluno CenterRegister two or more individuals from the same cooperative and receive a 10% discount!There is a limited number of financial hardship registrations available. If you need assistance, please contact us.
Thank you to Cooperative Network for cosponsoring this event!
This program is presented by:
The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives and UW Extension
Copyright © 2015 University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, All rights reserved.unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences

Time to register: Northern Nut Growers conference

The 106th Northern Nut Growers Conference will be held this July in LaCrosse! Register by July 1 and save. Register now at the NNGA website at  or go directly to the meeting registration website at:

July 27-28, speakers from across North America will share their experience with a variety of nuts – chestnuts, hazelnuts, oaks, butternuts, hickory nuts, walnuts, even cashews. Sessions will cover breeding, crop management, marketing and business development.

We expect to draw 200 nut growers, sellers, and allied supply chain partners. Don’t miss this networking opportunity!

The program will feature sessions on running a nut business, given by business leaders in the field. Beth Barham will be traveling up from Missouri to talk about her work on geographic indication – that is, Taste of Place. See her academic article at

The tour organized for July 28th includes a hike through a native chestnut grove, a tour of Mark Shepard’s polyculture farm, and a look at the American Hazelnut Company’s processing facility. The tour ends with dinner at the Rooted Spoon.


Continental Nut Grower conference July 26-29 in LaCrosse

The 106th Northern Nut Growers Conference will be held this July in LaCrosse!

July 27-28, speakers from across North America will share their experience with a variety of nuts – chestnuts, hazelnuts, oaks, butternuts, hickory nuts, walnuts, even cashews. Sessions will cover breeding, crop management, marketing and business development.

The tour organized for July 28th includes a hike through a native chestnut grove, a tour of Mark Shepard’s polyculture farm, and a look at the American Hazelnut Company’s processing facility. The tour ends with dinner at the Rooted Spoon.

Register by July 1 and save. Register now at the NNGA website at  or go directly to the meeting registration website at:

SW Badger RC&D needs a new ED!

Could it be you??

Southwest Badger RC&D is seeking a new Executive Director. Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development Council is looking for an energetic and organized individual to serve as Executive Director. The Executive Director works with a regional Council to carry out the mission of the organization and oversees all aspects of day to day operations including administration, personnel, project management, fundraising, and public relations activities. Application materials can be found on the web:

Deadline is Monday, May 4, 2015.