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Draft horses pull a forecart.

Real Horse Power

by Ryan Heinen, Land and Livestock Manager | The last time a team of draft horses worked this land was 1958. That’s the year that the Williams family built the new dairy barn. Lloyd Williams told me that this new barn did not include stalls for horses, and so the team was sold. My grandfather had…

2019 Seed Catalogs

Winter Plans

by Laurel Blomquist, Head Gardener | People often ask me, “Do you work over the winter? What do you do?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” While farmers in more temperate parts of the country may be able to squeeze in a few more crops, I cherish this time of year to pause, reflect on the…

Linda Halley and Laurel Blomquist - Gwenyn Hill Farm in Wisconsin

Giving Thanks

By Laurel Blomquist, Head Gardener | As 2018 draws to a close, and the Thanksgiving holiday grows near, I pause to reflect on what we accomplished this first season at Gwenyn Hill Farm. It’s hard to believe that just nine months ago, the greenhouse didn’t have a water supply, the packing shed didn’t have a cooler,…

Nurse cow

Who’s Milking the Dairy Cows?

by Ryan Heinen | In America’s Dairyland and across the country, the sight of milk cows grazing in pasture has become uncommon. The exception is certified organic dairy farms, where grazing must provide at least 30% of a cow’s feed during the grazing season. This summer you may have noticed the small herd of milk cows…

Barn restoration

A Barn Is Reborn

by Linda Halley, General Manager | For eighteen months, a shady hillside along Bryn Drive has been bare. A lone silo remains, a testament to the fact that a dairy barn once stood there. In the next few weeks the barn will rise again, thanks to a couple of unassuming brothers, Tad and Craig Van Valin….

Gwenyn Hill's 2018 seasonal crew.

Hasta la Vista, “Until We See You Again”

by Linda Halley | We bought the plane tickets last night. Now it is real. The Zunigas are leaving by the end of the month, which means our seasonal crew will be reduced by more than half. Even though the fall has been terribly wet and many of our end-of-season tasks have been delayed, the Zunigas…

White Salad Turnips

How I Would Use This Week’s Share, Part II

by Laurel Blomquist, Head Gardener | Fall is officially in full swing, and the sheer variety of vegetables may have some of you scratching your heads. This post was so popular during the summer that I thought I would do it again for fall. The first thing I would do is check to see which vegetables…

Cows clearing brush

Our Ecological Restoration Herd

by Ryan Heinen, Land and Livestock Manager | As I write this, it’s a beautiful cool and sunny fall morning on Gwenyn Hill Farm. It’s my favorite time of year. I was out in the pastures rotating the beef cattle herd to a new paddock. I move them every day, and today I again noticed the…

Mise en place

The Culinary Connection

by Laurel Blomquist, Head Gardener | A lot of people ask me how I got into farming. It’s not exactly a glamorous profession. I was certainly not encouraged to pursue it by my grandparents, who operated a farm while I was growing up. In 2009, I was in my second year of culinary school  at Madison…

French Orange melon

Flavor Rules

by Linda Halley, General Manager | This past week Gwenyn Hill Farm hosted the Kettle Moraine Garden Club. There’s so much to say about what we do here and why. I have to narrow my messaging so we don’t feel like we are in a graduate-level lecture with a test at the end. I like to…

Rudbeckia

Strength in Diversity

by Linda Halley, General Manager | When the heavens opened up on August 16 and kept it up until September 3rd, farmers knew the season had taken a turn. Half of the summer’s precipitation fell the second half of August, much of it coming fast and furiously. Equally bad were the heavy, stagnant air and cloud…

Cattle eating pasture on healthy soils.

Using Livestock to Make Healthy Soils

by Ryan Heinen, Land & Livestock Manager | If you have driven by the farm recently you may have noticed a small herd of cows grazing near the old dairy barn. Over the next months and into 2019 we will be in the process of building livestock flocks and herds of sheep and cattle. Their job…

Gwenyn Hill tote bag

How I Would Use This Week’s Share

by Farmer Laurel | At the start of the CSA season, we gave each of our members a Gwenyn Hill tote bag to pack their shares in. Members quickly came to realize that this bag is simply not big enough to pack all of the goodies that we offer each week. We have supplemental bags to…

Tryouts… Criteria for a Lonely Vegetable

By Sarah Mayer | Benji digs.  I pull and select, with yeas and nays from the peanut gallery. Jaci designs a big, beautiful bunch.  And we repeat. Now, what is it that gives the single carrot the right of passage to the almighty bunch? We all seem to agree that a carrot should be, for the…

Celebrate National Honeybee Day with Gwenyn Hill Farm

By Linda Halley | This coming weekend we are going to celebrate National Honeybee Day with an Open House featuring lectures, lessons and sweet fun, courtesy of beekeeper extraordinaire, Quentin Stedman. He has eight hives here at Gwenyn Hill Farm, most of them high up on Honeybee Hill, the hill above the dairy barn. He…

CSA Cooking Demo with Children - Gwenyn Hill Farm

Survival Skills

By Linda Halley | Life is busy and complicated for most of us, so being a creature of habit is a survival skill. Whipping up one of those stand-by meals that’s easy, with predictable outcomes, is a perfect fallback for busy summer days. If that’s your habit, you are not alone. The typical family relies…

Organic Kohlrabi Near Milwaukee, WI - Gwenyn Hill Farm

The Search for Flavor

By Linda Halley | During the last heat wave, I was seduced by a strategically-placed mountain of watermelon as I entered the grocery store. It was hot, I was thirsty, and I couldn’t resist. Knowing a thing or two about how a ripe watermelon should look (and sound), I confidently selected the one with a…

Organic Produce - Gwenyn Hill Farm in Wisconsin

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work at Gwenyn Hill

By Sarah Mayer | Here we are: mid-season, sun-kissed, increasingly reaching for our straw hats, and consistently detoxing in the sauna that is a summer in Wisconsin. And just how is it that we got here? With a little help from our friends, of course. Early season farming can be a bit of a lesson…

Birds in Flight at Gwenyn Hill Farm in Waukesha County, WI

Winged Allies

By Linda Halley | From the backyard of the farmhouse you can spot an amazing number of our farm’s wild allies, without which it would be hard to farm organically. Each has its role to play. The monarchs are bobbing in pairs over the tall, shaggy weeds, among them the monarch-favorite, milkweed. By fall, the…

Organic Beets at Waukesha County CSA - Gwenyn Hill Farm

First Farmers Market

By Laurel Blomquist | On Saturday, June 23rd, Gwenyn Hill Farm made our debut at the Brookfield Farmers Market. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. The day started out cool and breezy, in the low 60s. As the morning went on, it topped off in the mid-70s. This was perfect for casual strolls through…

Organic Kale and Kid - CSA Pickup Near Milwaukee, WI - Gwenyn Hill Farm

Inaugural CSA Pickup

By Laurel Blomquist | Last week was the first week we gave vegetables to our CSA members. Everyone on the team was excited to finally be doing what we had set out to do way back in February. CSA Members were excited too. Their faces were all smiles as they entered the Packing Shed and…

Organic Roots - Gwenyn Hill Farm - Waukesha, WI

Farming by Hand

By Laurel Blomquist | A couple of weeks ago, I discussed several of the machines we use at planting time to help us do our work. We certainly get a lot more done with these machines, as they work much faster than we could by hand. The truth is, though, that most of our work…

Organic Farming Tools - Gwenyn Hill Farm in Wisconsin

Farming with Machines

By Laurel Blomquist | Machines have revolutionized the business of farming. We use many machines every day at Gwenyn Hill. Of course, as is the case with all machines, when they work well, they will save you a lot of time. When they don’t, you will waste time trying to fix them. Whenever we plant…

Rain and Dew on Flowers - Gwenyn Hill Farm - Lake Country, WI

Rain: A Complex Relationship

By Laurel Blomquist | Wisconsinites are no strangers to the question, “How’s the weather?” but as a farmer, that question takes on another level of meaning. That question can determine what we can and can’t do on any given day, and maybe even all week. As a human being going through everyday life, the rain…

Bird on Fence Post - Gwenyn Hill Organic Farm

Planning and Patience

By Linda Halley | While Laurel’s focus is on the greenhouse, the vegetable plots, and our internet presence, my primary responsibilities are “everything else.” Laurel has systematically planned out planting dates, numbers of transplants needed, row-feet and projected yields. All of that was done in November and December, and now she carries it out, calmly…

Beehive Box Pollination - Gwenyn Hill Farm - Wisconsin

Gwenyn Is Welsh for Honeybee

By Linda Halley | Thursday, April 12, after the most spring-like afternoon of the season, we were all a little giddy. There was a spring in my step and bird song in the air. The farm team had just finished marking the rows for the new orchard and were heading home. As I packed my…

Organic Kohlrabi Near Milwaukee, WI - Gwenyn Hill Farm

Why Buy Organic?

By Laurel Blomquist | What’s the difference between vegetables that are certified organic and those that aren’t? Why does it matter? Why should you choose organic? Check out this video to see how conventional pesticides differ from IPM (Integrated Pest Management) used in certified organic systems: Although many people associate organic farming with eliminating harmful…

Crops at Wisconsin Organic Farm - Gwenyn Hill

Why Buy Local?

By Laurel Blomquist | The food you eat comes from all over the world. Avocados come from Mexico. Shrimp comes from Vietnam. Winter produce comes from California. What’s the difference between buying food locally versus from far away? And why does it matter? We, your farmers, have taken the time to choose varietals that we…

Pick-Your-Own Flowers - CSA - Gwenyn Hill Farm

Planting Season Is Here!

By Laurel Blomquist | Greetings, all. Remember a few weeks ago when I said I was looking for someone to build the potting table of my dreams? Well, I found someone, and last week, they delivered it. Mike Iverson listened to all of my needs and desires and put it together in a table that…

Fields and Crops at Gwenyn Hill Organic Farm in Wisconsin

Roots to Fruit Community Education Conference

By Laurel Blomquist | Last Saturday, we were invited to exhibit at the Prairie Hill Waldorf School’s 6th annual parent conference. This year’s conference theme was Parenting and Education Toward Goodness, Beauty, and Truth. When we heard one of the breakout sessions was titled “Creating Your Family Culture” we knew it would be a good…

Organic Cabbage Growing - Gwenyn Hill Farm Near Milwaukee, WI

MOSES Organic Farming Conference

By Laurel Blomquist | Last week the Gwenyn Hill Farm team made the trek to La Crosse to attend North America’s largest gathering of organic farmers and professionals, the highlight of every farming year. It was a chance to brush up on farming knowledge and reconnect with some 3000 farmer friends and business partners of…

Crops at Gwenyn Hill Farm - Waukesha County, Wisconsin

Ready or Not

By Laurel Blomquist | According to my planting schedule, we are supposed to start planting next week, after we get back from the MOSES Organic Farming Conference this weekend. Many farmer friends have already started planting. We are doing everything from seed, which means that we don’t buy in any starter plants to help us…

CSA Food Prep - Gwenyn Hill Farm - Lake Country, Wisconsin

Seed to Kitchen Collaborative

By Laurel Blomquist | Last Monday, Linda and I had the honor of meeting with farmer, chefs, and researchers at UW-Madison to discuss their project known as Seed to Kitchen. According to their website: “The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative connects plant breeders focused on organic systems to Wisconsin farmers and chefs, to create delicious, well-adapted vegetable…

Seeds in Hand - Gwenyn Hill Farm

Seed Companies: A Professional’s List

By Linda Halley | As a student at UW-Madison I gravitated toward people in the School of Ag rather than in my chosen field, Education. My “aggie” friends were always pondering how to spend time out of town and off campus. One even managed to rent a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired solar home west of…

Deep Freeze on Gwenyn Hill Farm in Wisconsin

Praise the Plunge

By Linda Halley | When the mercury plunges to subzero our first reaction may be to bundle up, hunker down and pray for a swift end to intolerable temperatures. The last week of 2017 and the first week of 2018 tried our patience with temps rarely climbing to the teens and dipping to double digits…

2018, Here We Come

By Laurel Blomquist | Wow! 2017 just flew by. It’s hard to believe that in just a few short months, we’ll be planting and harvesting. We still have so much to do between now and then. Before I left for the holidays, I made a list of priorities for 2018. There were more than 40…

Saying “Hi”

By Linda Halley | Never having sold Girl Scout cookies or marching band fundraisers door to door, driving the neighborhood and ringing doorbells was a whole new experience for me. That is just what I did for two afternoons last week. Gift of bird seed and friendly letter in hand, I put on my smile….

Midwest CSA Conference

By Laurel Blomquist | Last week, Linda and I attended the 3rd Midwest CSA Conference, put on by Wisconsin Farmers Union in Baraboo, WI. It is a joke among farmers in the Midwest that winter is “Conference Season” since growing is very difficult, if not impossible, during these cold winter months. This was the first…

Organic Crops - Gwenyn Hill Farm in Wisconsin

Planning To Plant

Greetings! Welcome to the very first blog post for Gwenyn Hill Farm. This is your Head Gardener, Laurel. I will introduce myself in a later blog post. For now, I wanted to catch you up on some of the planning that has been going on here at the farm. When I accepted this position, starting…

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