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Category: The Farm

Lunchtime for the Herd

by Charlie Tennessen | Serving lunch to ninety dairy cows is no simple undertaking.  Every day, rain or shine, Gwenyn Hill Farm’s Land & Livestock Manager Ryan Heinen loads up about two tons of forage onto a wagon and takes it out to the pasture where the herd eagerly waits for their meal. The feed...

The First Half of 2020

By Laurel Blomquist | 2020 is certainly an exceptional year so far. We’ve all been feeling the effects of these stressful times, and 2020 is destined to go down in history, though most of it has yet to be written.  From my perspective from the vegetable fields of Gwenyn Hill, 2020 has turned out to...

Till the Cows Come Home

by Linda Halley | Origin: A longstanding colloquial expression found in print as early as 1593. Exact origin unknown. Meaning: A long, but indefinite time. Explanation: Cows are notoriously languid creatures and make their way home at their own unhurried pace. Milestone: After 30 years, the cows came home to Gwenyn Hill. There stands an...

Hope Springs Eternal

by Laurel Blomquist |“There was no time to lose, no time to waste in rest or play. The life of the earth comes up with a rush in the springtime.” –Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on right now, it’s this: we live in strange times. Most of...

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

by Linda Halley and Ryan Heinen | Know your farmer, know your food! I was amazed, some years back, when I found that easy-to-remember slogan on the header of a USDA web page. The behemoth federal agency never seemed to even notice the kinds of farmers one can “know.” It made me, as a grower...

Resilient, Diversified Farming

by Laurel Blomquist | A few weeks ago, I attended the Organic Vegetable Production Conference. This conference is relatively new, but well-attended by the farming community because it’s strictly for growers. The theme of this year’s keynote was “Farm Resilience in the Face of Change.” While the casual observer may note that weather patterns have...

Remembering that Gwenyn Hill was a Fifth Generation Farm

by Linda Halley | While Gwenyn Hill LLC as a business in its third year is an infant in the world of farming, the land that encompasses Gwenyn Hill comes with a history. For five generations the Williams family farmed here; clearing woods, picking rocks, grazing sheep, making hay and milking cows for their dairy...

Weed Control at Gwenyn Hill Farm

By Laurel Blomquist | Earlier this year, I wrote about Gwenyn Hill Farm’s organic management practices, relating to Gwenyn Hill Farm’s organic fertilization and pest management strategies. This time, I’d like to talk about how we deal with weeds.  What is a Weed? What exactly is a weed? A weed is a plant that is growing...

Organic Plants for Nourishment

by Lexie Goldberg | Nourishment is a word that circles around my head and heart constantly. Each and every day, our conscious and subconscious thoughts and actions either nourish our bodies and minds, or deplete them. A huge aspect of nourishment and self-care is the food we choose to eat. Our food choices and our...

Cooking for Brain Health

by Susan Speidell | When was the last time you had an opportunity to take a cooking class that focused on brain health? As soon as I saw the invitation to attend a cooking class led by Dr. Rose Kumar, I knew it had my name all over it! Who doesn’t love a cooking class,...

Pest Control at Gwenyn Hill Farm

by Laurel Blomquist | In my last journal entry, I explained how Gwenyn Hill Farm uses fertilizers. In this entry, I will explain how we control insect pests.  Integrated Pest Management One of the challenges of organic farming is pest control. At Gwenyn Hill Farm, as with other organic farms, our primary approach is through...

Fertilizers at Gwenyn Hill Farm

By Laurel Blomquist | On May 28, 2019, Gwenyn Hill Farm was visited by an inspector from MOSA, or Midwest Organic Services Association. Annually, we are carefully evaluated by our inspector for organic certification. The inspector checks out the fields as well as the areas where we wash and pack our produce before selling it....

Plan “B”

By Linda Halley | Today, a June Sunday morning, the rain feels like a refreshing drink of water–thirst-quenching and reviving. But, last month’s rain was like the deep end of the pool, requiring a constant paddling to keep head above water. It was too much of a good thing. Rainfall totals, while above normal, were...

Gwenyn Hill’s Heirloom Apples: Worth the Wait

by Kaylee Richards | As you drive past our curious laying hens and happily grazing cattle along Bryn Drive, you may notice a towering fence set on a hillside, south of the road. It seems out of place, protecting what looks like nothing. I assure you, however, that this fence is protecting seedlings of history....

Why the Chickens Crossed Bryn Drive

By Ryan Heinen | With the warmer spring weather we moved our young flock of 115 laying hens from the brooding pen in the machine shed to their permanent home in the lower level of the granary. The new coop includes multiple roosting bars, nest boxes and lots of room. It has access to a...

Maple Water

By Linda Halley | Gwenyn Hill Farm is blessed with maples; mostly red, some sugar, and an occasional silver maple. Ryan Heinen, Gwenyn Hill’s Land and Livestock Manager, and I put out a few taps this past week, We located them in easy-to-reach places along the road and in my yard. Sap runs best when...

The Scent of Spring

By Linda Halley | It’s going to happen any day now. You’re going to go outside and smell spring. It smells like life itself, awakening after a long slumber. Truly, it is. Microscopic life in the soil is stirring. The biology of organisms eating, digesting, excreting and repeating is the scent of spring. Breathe it in....

Renewing the Passion for Farming

By Laurel Blomquist, Head Gardener | Last October, many CSA members lamented the end of the growing season and the long pause before we start selling vegetables again, which is usually around mid-June. They were genuinely sad that they had to go back to the grocery store for produce once again. I, on the other hand,...

Following Nature’s Example

by Ryan Heinen, Land and Livestock Manager | It’s February in Wisconsin and more snow is predicted in the forecast. Lots of conventional farms have their livestock closed up in the barn. But here on Gwenyn Hill Farm the cattle are still out on the pastures, breathing the crisp fresh air and enjoying ample room to...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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: 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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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