Last weekend I fell in love. You know my soft spot for small family farms and how much I love meeting the farmers, but this experience was so phenomenal I needed to devote an entire post to it. The story begins with our local natural foods cooperative, known as Willy St. Coop. Every Fall they organize a farm tour highlighting some of the farms whose products are carried in the store. This year my dear friend asked me to go with her and for this I will be eternally grateful. This just may become an Autumn tradition. We toured three farms, all of which were exciting and interesting, but one in particular really stole my heart. Join me in learning about the Seven Seeds Farm.
This farm was established in 1872 and has operated for seven generations of Mikelson, Peterson and Davis families. Although not always organic certified, the current custodians, Louise Erpenbach (5th generation), Greg and Lea Dolan Stroncek (6th generation) and their children (7th generation) are 100% committed to sustainable, organic, healthy farming practices. They proudly display their Animal Welfare Approval certificate which according to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is the gold standard for how animals should be treated.
In addition, they are USDA and MOSA (Midwest Organic Services Association) certified organic. They are excellent stewards of the land and I am sure they have the blessings of Mother Nature and the farm’s founder, Arne Mikelson. Check out their website for more history and a wonderful photo album.
An abundance of charm is immediately visible here. Nestled in the rolling hills of Spring Green, WI, the setting is ideal.
Louise has enhanced the scene with beautiful flower gardens and landscaped interests.
It operates on solar power, additional evidence of their commitment to the environment, and a large green house allows them to grow many of their own fruits and vegetables. The entire farm is impeccably maintained and the family pride is abundantly apparent in everything you see. I could not stop smiling and snapping photos. I could have spent the entire day there. A return trip is definitely on the list.
On the premises is a farm store where they sell Beef, Pork, Chicken and Eggs.
Inside are shelves of books on subjects that support their “green” efforts and coolers/freezers full of the products they produce. We had an opportunity to see their beautiful Murray Grey cattle (many with new calves, ahhhh) that are 100% grass-fed on their certified organic pasture and hay, which means NO synthetic chemical pesticides, herbicides, insecticides or fertilizers. They are on a rotational grazing system which is healthier for them and for the environment by preventing erosion and run-off into nearby streams and lakes.
They are also a closed-based operation, meaning nothing comes from another farm. The bulls, cows and calves are all made and raised on their farm. In addition to the cows, we got to commune with their many hens who are free range and feast on what nature intended with an occasional treat from the vegetable garden. The meat chickens have rotating pasture as well and looked quite happy and content. Time did not allow for visiting the pigs but I feel certain they were smiling along with the other livestock.
I have to give a huge nod to this family’s commitment to farming especially with the trend toward large corporate businesses. Greg & Lea dream of their children sustaining the family farm as the seventh generation. Their environmental and organic practices will insure that the earth is cared for and will enable them to carry-on and fulfill this dream. A giant hug and thank you to this family for opening their farm and hearts to our group, producing food that is nourishing and healthy and for caring about our Mother Earth.
Another giant hug and thank you to the staff at Willy Street Coop for organizing this tour and giving us the opportunity to meet these thoughtful and generous farmers whose commitment to all good things is admirable. I plan to feature the other farms at a later date.
I urge you to get up close and personal with the farmers in your community. Learn where you food comes from and what goes into its production. Until next time, stay healthy and spread the love, one dish at a time.