Category Archives: Apples and Other Fruit

Growing Woody Perennials in the Kickapoo Region

Want to know what woody perennials to grow for the long-term health of your land and the region? Learn how to use ecological principles and considerations to manage your land, and see what some beginning growers are doing in the Kickapoo region.

Thursday, September 12, 2013, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm • Viroqua, WI

Participants will visit:

  • a new ecotourism and retreat site that has plantings to benefit both people and wildlife;
  • a family farm devoted to specialty food that uses permaculture principles and practices along with managed grazing of goats;and
  • an elderberry on-farm research project inspired by work at the University of Missouri.

This workshop is designed for landowners with properties of all sizes who need a bit of inspiration and insight about how to get started, what is working on the ground, and what to plant in hedgerows, woodland edges and streambanks. Join us in exploring these three different locations and approaches to applying ecological principles to growing woody perennials in the Kickapoo region.

Course materials may be downloaded here, developed by presenters Marian Farroir, UW Arboretum and Regina Hirsch, UW Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems:

Registration fee: $40, which includes a box lunch from the Viroqua Food Co-op; or $30 and bring your own lunch.

Register using the form available on the CIAS website at and send with payment to Michelle Miller at UW-Madison CIAS, Attn: Growing Woody Perennials in the Kickapoo Region, Ag Bulletin Building, 1535 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706.

Contact Michelle with registration questions at or 608-262-7135.

For workshop questions, contact Marian Farrior:, 608-265-5214.

Location: We will begin the day at Nature’s Nook: S4878 Cty. Rd. S, Viroqua, WI 54665.

Directions: From Viroqua, take Hwy 56 east to Hwy 82. Turn left on Hwy 82 and go to County
Road S. Turn right on S. Nature’s Nook is about 1/2 mile down County Road S on the left.

Draft agenda:

8:30-9:00 a.m.                  Welcome & introductions

9:00-9:45 a.m.                  Definitions, Principles of ecological gardening

9:45-10:30 a.m.                2 groups: 1)  Small group discussion/Functions worksheet: What are the functions you want fulfilled on your land? What are your land’s needs, yields, characteristics?  2)      Tour at Nature Nooks

10:30-10:45 a.m.              Break

10:45-11:30 a.m.              Small Group discussion /Tour at Nature Nooks

11:30-12 p.m.                    Lunch

12-12:30 p.m.                    Travel to Cullen and Micaela’s Long Arm Farm

12:30-2:30 p.m.               3 groups : 1) philosophy, context & background, plant selection, how to plant different species (sheet mulching, etc.), plant selection for hedgerows, what is working well, markets; 2) animals, chicken tractor and rotations, plants for fodder, cheese cave, markets; 3) plant varieties, plant selection, propagation, what to grow along riparian zones & edges, sun/shade, guilds, juglones tolerant plants

2:30-3:00 p.m.                  Travel to Mike Breckel’s Hawkstone Vineyard

3:00-4:15 p.m.                  Tour at Hawkstone Vineyard

4:15-5:00                            Elderberry tasting

This workshop is sponsored by UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the UW-Madison Arboretum, with a grant from the Kickapoo Valley Reforestation Fund. Our wonderful collaborators include: the Vernon County Land and Water Conservation District, My Wisconsin Woods, the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the Kickapoo Woods Cooperative, and Southwest Badger RC & D.

Marketing the Native Understory

Thursday, June 27, 2013  9:30-4pm

Viroqua & Viola, WI

Hosted by: Rooted Spoon Culinary, Viroqua, WI and New Forest Farm, Viola, WI in collaboration with the Hazelnut Development Initiative, the Midwest Aronia Growers Association, and the UW Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems.

Two panel discussions will address the marketing of hazelnuts, aronia and mushrooms. Chefs will speak to their experience working with forest products from local growers. Hazelnut and aronia growers, and a mushroom forager, will share their experience marketing to local restaurants.

After a lunch at Rooted Spoon Culinary highlighting some of these forest products, the venue will shift to New Forest Farm in Viola, WI (about a half-hour drive). Here, attendees will tour the largest hazelnut planting in Wisconsin situated within this perennial permaculture farm. Please, no sandals on the farm tour.

Marketing the Native Understory agenda

9:00-9:30         Sign-in, registration, coffee

9:30-9:45         Welcome and introductions – Norm Erickson, hazelnut grower and Master of Ceremonies. Also, Dani Lind, chef; Brady Williams & Michelle Miller, UW-CIAS

9:45-10:45      Grower Panel: Norm Erickson, Rochester, MN , hazelnuts; Michael Mathiasen, St. Charles, IA, aronia; Joe Skulan, Lodi, WI, foraged mushrooms.

10:45-11:00     Break

11:00-12:15     Chef Panel: Chef Ryan Boughton, One Eleven Main, Galena, IL; Monique Hooker, chef and author of Cooking with the Seasons: A Year in My Kitchen; Brad Niemcek, Kickapoo Culinary Center

12:15-1:00       Lunch and informal networking

1:00-1:20         Lessons from value-added nut enterprises in the Midwest: 5 case studiesBrady Williams Click  hazelnut businesses for the power point presentation

1:20-1:40         Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative, Jeff Jensen, President Minnesota Hazelnut Foundation (invited) and Jason Fischbach, UW Extension – Bayfield County (invited)  and Midwest Aronia Association, Phil Mueller.

1:40-2:00        Unstructured networking

 2:00                Leave for Mark Shepard’s New Forest Farm in Viola to tour hazelnut and aronia plantings and learn about permaculture systems.

The registration fee for this event is $10. Space is limited to the first 80 people to register. Register on-line

Some of the businesses sending representatives include:

  • Weaver Gardens, Altura, MN
  • Proudspirit Farm, Viola, WI
  • Ecker’s Apple Farm, Trempealeau, WI
  • The Root Note, LaCrosse, WI
  • Walnut Bluffs Farm, Canton, MN
  • Star Valley Flowers, Soldiers Grove
  • Bellbrook Berry Farm, Brooklyn, WI
  • Strause Farms, Rio, WI

Representatives from the following towns and cities have registered:

  • Waunakee, WI
  • Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Spring Green, WI
  • Necedah, WI
  • Prairie du Chien, WI
  • Johnson Creek, WI
  • Luana, IA
  • Decorah, IA
  • St. Charles, IA
  • Rochester, MN
  • Stoddard, WI
  • West Bend, WI
  • Black River Falls, WI
  • Highland, WI
  • Rib Lake, WI

Midwest Aronia Growers Conference

From Dale Secher, Carandale Farm, Vice President Midwest Aronia Association

Another year has come and gone and we are only days away from the 3rd annual Midwest Aronia Association conference.  I hope that those of you who are actively involved and/or are thinking about getting involved with aronia, have been checking the website, <>.  The conference is at the same location:  Holiday Inn Northwest, 4800 Merle Hay Rd, Des Moines, IA, this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 4, 5, & 6.

The best way to keep informed about the exciting new progress being made, is to join the MAA for an annual fee of $75.00 that will entitle you to members only information on the website.  You will also receive quarterly newsletter with much information.  If you have already made plans to attend the conference, I will be looking forward to seeing you there.  If it works into your schedule, it is not too late to participate.  Log onto the website for details.
FYI, one of the reasons why I have neglected to keep you informed about MAA activities through this listserv has been my pre-occupation with an exciting new project that could ultimately transform how we grow and market little known fruit crops such as aronia.  Working with a grant from the Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture, and in cooperation with the Center for  Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) at UW-Madison, we are providing input for a new website.  The website, which will be hosted by UW-Madison, is due to be launched in June.  It will be about the potential for promoting a sustainable integrated cropping system incorporating uncommon perennial fruit crops including, and perhaps featuring aronia.
The website will summarize information and observations about more than 50 perennial fruiting species and provide some incite on how these might be grown, harvested, processed and marketed in an integrated manner using the principles of economics of scale and ecological symbiosis for a more sustainable food supply and marketing system.
This has become a larger and more time consuming project than anticipated and a major distraction from other ongoing activities, but it could be a major opportunity for aronia growers to add value and reduce risk.

Specialty Pork forum – update

August 2012, CIAS convened a meeting of people passionate about specialty pork. Specialty-finished, heritage breed pork is much-sought-after, especially by restauranteurs interested in an authentic, innovative and sustainable menu item. Heirloom breeds, unique finishes, and artisanal processing are coming together to give consumers a taste of regional flavor. In the Upper Midwest prok finished with hazelnuts, chestnuts, acorns, and apples provide that regional flavor. This one-day forum, co-hosted by Rooted Spoon Kitchen Table,  brought together farmers, processors, restaurants and vendors to discuss regional pork. They shared their expertise and experiences, and discussed next steps toward developing a regional supply chain for local pork.

More than 30 stakeholders from around southern Wisconsin gathered in Viroqua for a forum on the region’s nascent specialty pork sector. Some pasture-based hog farmers have begun finishing their animals with specialty products to alter the flavor and distinguish their products to consumers. CIAS recognized that this could be a new niche for small- and medium-scale pasture-based operations in the state, and so we convened a forum to discuss its potential. We posed the question of whether a marketing program akin to “Wisconsin Specialty Pork” could serve participants along the pastured pork value chain. With farmers, processors, vendors, and representatives from CIAS in the room, the group held a lively one-day discussion on issues facing the growth of a specialty pork economy.

We first heard from growers Jeannie Herold (Hazel Valley Farm) and Mark Osterberg (Hawk’s Cry Farm) on the value they’ve found in hazelnut-finished hogs. Both Herold and Osterberg began their operations with hazelnuts before incorporating hogs. Without the necessary industrial facilities available, they have found that pigs are the next-best way to process their hazelnut crop. Herold sells her pork directly to consumers, and she reports that her customers appreciate the rich flavor the meat takes from the nuts.

Next Christopher Pax (Black Earth Meats), Scott Buer (Bolzano Artisan Meats), and Tim Blokhuis (Pete’s Meats) presented on the state of specialty pork from the processor’s perspective. During a break, Caitlin Henning (MSc candidate in Agroecology) discussed her fieldwork on denominations of origin for specialty pork in Spain and how lessons from that country could help farmers and vendors in Wisconsin market specialty pork as a terroir product.

For the final panel discussion, Jeremy Johnson (Willy Street Grocery Cooperative), Nik Novak (Together Farms), and Talish Barrow (Graze Restaurant) talked with the group about marketing challenges and opportunities for specialty-finished pork. While the panelists haven’t yet observed consumer demand for specialty finishing, their businesses have responded to consumer interest in local and pasture-raised pork. Barrow proposed that specialty finishing could be another niche for farmers and vendors with the right amount of consumer education.

Most farmers attending the event were curious about whether specialty finishing could work for their operations. Surveys completed during the event indicate that there is interest in both specialty finishing and product aggregation to take advantage of larger markets and niche consumers.

Another note – if you are on FaceBook, check out the Black Pork site. Lovely photos!

black pork

Meeting participants:

Last Name First Name Affiliation/Organization
Armbrust Matt Organic Processing Institute
Barrow Talish Graze Restaurant
Bernardoni Bob Roller Coaster Farm
Blokhuis Tim Pete’s Meats
Buer Scott Bolzano Artisan Meats
Doherty Charlotte Roller Coaster Farm
Fabos Steve April’s Garden
Fox Dan Fox Heritage Foods
Fox Art Fox Heritage Foods
Goetzman Sandra Fair Wind Farm
Goetzman Tom Fair Wind Farm
Henning Caitlin UW-Agroecology
Herold Jeannie Hazel Valley Farm
Hoch Harry Hoch Orchard and Gardens
Holmstrom Deanne Holmstrom’s Grassy Acres
Holstrom Jamie Holmstrom’s Grassy Acres
Hunter Jonny Underground Food Collective
Johnson Jeremy WSGC
Johnstone-Buer Christin Bolzano Artisan Meats
Keeley Keefe UW-Agroecology
Mabe Nick Hoch Orchard and Gardens
McCann Nick Iowa State Univerisity
Moths Jessi CIAS
Novak Nik Together Farms
Osterhaus Max Hawks Cry
Osterhaus Mark Hawk’s Cry Farm
Pax Christopher Black Earth Meats
Prusia April April’s Garden
Schneider Stephanie Together Farms
Schriefer Gene Iowa County UWEX
Solberg Dan prospective farmer
Toepper Lorin Madison College
Williams Brady CIAS
Wong Kristina Hawks Cry
Wright Carla Organic Processing Institute

Networking Across the Supply Chain – LaCrosse 2/20-21/2013

100 regional food supply chain entrepreneurs are gathering in LaCrosse this week to shape a public R&D agenda for getting local food to market in a way that is economically viable, socially just and environmentally sound.

Visit this link to see the agenda, speaker bios and a list of organizations attending.

Can’t join us? A proceedings will be published later this year.


4th Annual Upper Midwest Hazelnut Growers Conference

March 1-2, Eau Claire

Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin hazelnut growers plan to convene this spring to share information on growing, processing and selling hazelnuts. Researchers from Ontario, New Jersey, Minnesota and Wisconsin will share their work on propogating commercial nuts from hybrid and native hazelnut stock, and various ways growers are marketing their crops.

For more information and to register, go to:




The Equitable Food Initiative

Please share widely with your friends and colleagues!

The Equitable Food Initiative is hiring a Senior Advisor to engage major actors in the food industry to join the EFI.

The Equitable Food Initiative ( is a consortium of major food buyers, growers, farm worker groups and consumer advocates to ensure dignified livelihoods for farm workers; a trained workforce and safer, more sustainable food. The co-chairs of the coalition are Oxfam America and the United Farm Workers of America.

The position will engage major actors in the food industry, other organizations and the public with the goal of strengthening the EFI program as well as providing steering for the design of field-based training, certification and verification.

The position will be based on the West Coast. To apply, see Positions at Oxfam America.

Peter O’Driscoll
Project Director
EquiTABLE Food Initiative

202-777-2933 (desk)
617-407-8171 (cell)


Building the Base of Your CSA: Legal Best Practices, Including Member, Volunteer, and Intern Agreements

Webinar: Monday, December 10th, 2012 at 6pm

Do you have a CSA program or are you planning to start one? Would you like guidance on how legal documents can help you achieve your CSA goals?

Farmers are invited to attend a webinar December 10th at 6pm to learn about the legal aspects of running a CSA and gain strategies for crafting a CSA member agreement to improve customer satisfaction and retention. This webinar will also discuss how to create meaningful volunteer opportunities with worker share or volunteer agreements, while also identifying potential legal risks. We will discuss setting up a CSA business, hiring interns and apprentices, and overall risk management strategies to build a CSA that can thrive.

CSA farmers, educators, and advocates are invited to attend. The legal principles discussed will be relevant to CSA farmers nationwide, although Wisconsin and Illinois examples will be emphasized for state-specific discussions.

Please register for this webinar at

After registering you will receive more information about how to log into the webinar. We are excited to use the University of Illinois’ user-friendly and interactive webinar presentation resources. It will be accessible for those on dial-up. Phone support will be available if you have any trouble accessing the presentation.

This webinar is presented by Professor A. Bryan Endres at the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and Rachel Armstrong of Farm Commons and the University of Illinois. It is hosted by the University of Illinois, Online and Continuing Education and funding is provided in part by the North Central Risk Management Education Center.

Want to sell wholesale?

Looking for a buyer? The Local Food Expo has a couple of display areas for you at its meeting next Tuesday, September 18. Hosted by the Institutional Food Marketing Coalition, this event brings buyers and sellers together to swap business cards and learn about their mutual interests and concerns around wholesaling food grown in our region. They are especially interested in meat and cheese vendors. To register for the meeting. reserve a display table or learn more, go to Register now!

Northeast Iowa Local Food Directories Available

The Northeast Iowa Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter announces the 2012 Local Food Directory is now available. The directory has been connecting consumers with direct marketing farmers for six years. Buying local products from farmers is good for you, your family, your community and the environment.

This year’s directories were printed in a unique partnership with Inspire(d) magazine, a local publication based out of Decorah, Iowa. Inspire(d) covers positive news in the Driftless Region – Northeast Iowa, Southeast Minnesota, and Western Wisconsin and can be picked up for free at more than 100 locations across the region. Directories are also available online at – click on Finding Local Food.

The Northeast Iowa Buy Fresh Buy Local Chapter is part of the Northeast Iowa Food & Farm (NIFF) Coalition and the Food & Fitness Initiative (FFI). Together, they are working to create community environments that support access to fresh, locally-grown food. More information about these programs can be found at

The Buy Fresh – Buy Local guide for the Dubuque region is in production and should be available shortly.