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Category: The Farm

The Season of Abundance

By Laura Seleski As the days lengthen and the warm sun dries the fields, the ball starts to roll, a rolling that doesn’t slow until about mid October. With fresh minds and bodies our crew sets out; preparing fields, planting, harvesting and of course weeding merciless thistle. The abundance that comes from these diligent efforts...

Organic Farming Revolution

By Linda Halley Partial lyrics to a Beatles hit from the1970’s: You say you want a revolution Well, you know We all want to change the world You tell me that it’s evolution Well, you know We all wanna change the world But when you talk about destruction Don’t you know that you can count...

Gwenyn Hill Wool Comes Full Circle

By Liz Lyon Sheep’s wool must be shorn at least once per year no matter whether sheep are being raised for meat or for fiber. An annual shearing helps keep sheep cool during the summer, allows them to have more success with nursing during lambing season, and also protects them from parasites in the field....

Spring in the Orchard: A Season of Anxiety and Anticipation

By Ben Kraus After the Winter planning and pruning is complete, the nail biting begins. What conditions will Mother Nature have in store at the advent of this growing season? Will the temperatures gradually warm or be a rollercoaster of highs and lows? Will it be a wet or dry Spring? No matter the planning...

New Life at Gwenyn Hill

By Joshua Mechaelsen Here at Gwenyn Hill, there are a thousand and one things that signify the start of a new growing season, but of all the things that embody spring, lambing has to rank near the top. What could be more springtime than fluffy frolicking lambs bouncing through new green grass? Lambing is the...

Finding Phenology

By Krysta Post At Gwenyn Hill the arrival of Spring is marked by the return of Sandhill Cranes and Red Winged Blackbirds perching on the remains of last year’s prairie blooms.  Along Bryn Drive, patches of Mayapple and the ephemeral White Trillium flourish in sunlight before the tree canopy develops overhead. Dormant crops like garlic...

Winter Abundance

  By Laura Seleski  My grandmother recently told me this story of her childhood during the Chicago winters during the mid-20th century. She expressed it as a sad time; fruits and vegetables were scarce and expensive. When Christmas came around she was excited to receive an orange in her stocking for a bite of sweet...

Advocating for Farmers in Washington, D.C.

By Joshua Mechaelsen Back in September, hundreds of Farmers Union members gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 2023 Fall Legislative Fly-In. Among those present were about a dozen Wisconsin farmers, young and old, who had come to share their perspectives vis-à-vis farm policies with lawmakers and congressional staff members. Sharing these perspectives is particularly important...

Seasoned CSA Members Choose Gwenyn Hill

By Karren Jeske We first unearthed Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) at the CSA Open House in Madison in March of 2012, and we were sold on the concept. It appealed to us because we could support local farmers and sustainable farming practices while eating certified organic food. We couldn’t wait to join our first CSA,...

Farmtime Rhyme

 By Caitlin Cummings Liz is in the field, Figuring out the plan. Laura is hauling containers, To the market van. Ezequiel’s in the washing shed, Spraying the potatoes. Benji’s in the field, Harvesting the tomatoes. Adrian is hoeing, It’s an ongoing battle. Ryan’s in the pasture, Herding all the cattle. Josh is feeding chickens, And...

Giving Mother Nature a Helping Hand

By Ben Kraus You may have noticed there has been a lot more activity going on in the orchard this year. As the trees and vines mature, the increase in fruit set will attract the attention of both insects and fungi. We have been giving mother nature a hand. The orchard and vineyard are cared for...

Microgreens to Extend the Season

By Brian Randall Small farms everywhere have always had to deal with the seasonal shifts natural to agriculture, moving between abundance and scarcity as the seasons come and go.  The length of the day, the strength of the sun, and the amount of rainfall all play a role in how quickly and reliably a crop...

Farming as a Web of Relationships

Gwenyn Hill Farm began hosting apprentices through the state-wide Organic Vegetable Farm Manager Apprenticeship program in 2021. We are proud to support these apprentices as they learn about everything it takes to run an organic vegetable farm operation. Here at Gwenyn Hill, this means balancing ecological stewardship with the day-to-day economic and operational realities of running a...

Selecting Seedlings

By Liz Lyon With the arrival of May, peak planting season is almost upon us in Southeastern Wisconsin. Here at Gwenyn Hill Farm, we are proud to grow Certified Organic seedlings that are pollinator-friendly, organically raised, and selected for flavor and productivity. Our annual seedling sale gives us a chance to offer Certified Organic seedlings...

The Under-Appreciated Red Devon

By Joshua Mechaelsen At Gwenyn Hill Farm, livestock are a crucial part of our farm’s ecosystem. We strive to raise meat, milk, eggs, and fiber in a way that contributes to the biodiversity and health of our soils, pastures, woods, and fields. In addition to providing delicious and nutritious beef for our customers, our herd...

Welcoming a New Year in the Orchard

By Ben Kraus For as long as I can remember and perhaps even before, there has been a part of me that knew I was meant to be an orchardist. Many of my childhood memories are of running through the trees of Aeppler Orchard in Oconomowoc, where my grandmother lived and worked. I remember quietly...

A Field to Fork Resolution

by Linda Halley When you say, “Field to Fork” or “Farm to Table” in Wisconsin, Madison seems to get all the glory. But southeastern Wisconsin has some true pioneers in the movement who have done more than talk the talk – they walk the walk and even bring others along with them.  On an early...

A Fascination with Wool

by Lindsey Schwenn I am a huge fan of sheep. There is nothing like seeing these beautiful creatures dotting the hillside, grazing contentedly in the sun, or watching a newborn lamb take its first clumsy steps. Lambing season, though still quite cold in Wisconsin, is hands-down my favorite time of year, and my art practice...

Gwenyn Hill and Seed to Kitchen Collaborative: A Recipe for a Brighter Future

By Nora Dutton Welsh farming traditions guide much of what we do here at Gwenyn Hill, but we’re also rooted in modern methods and believe there’s a delicate art to marrying the two. That balance is found in the UW Madison Department of Horticulture’s Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, a project we’re excited to partner with...

Keeping an Eye on Wisconsin’s Pollinators

By Braden Wallenkamp Gwenyn is Welsh for honey bee, so it is in the name that Gwenyn Hill Farm honors the bees. Across our 430 acres of fields and hills, we monitor 19 honey bee hives. This past summer, researchers from UW Madison spent time in our melon field tracking pollinators. This research team contributes...

The “O” Word

It was a spirited discussion around the lunch table at Gwenyn Hill Farm that got me thinking. There were four of us, all working on a certified organic farm, yet there were four opinions about the value of the certified organic label. Over my decades in farming, I’ve taken an unwavering stance on the label’s...

Perennials and Future Harvests at Gwenyn Hill Farm

By Braden Wallenkamp Throughout the spring and summer, Gwenyn Hill Farm fills its 12 acre vegetable field with annual crops. Most of these crops are what fill the farmstand, sell at the farmers market, and make up CSA shares each week. Beginning in 2017, Gwenyn Hill began planting perennial fruits with four acres of heritage...

Hoop Houses, Season Extension, and the Local Food Economy

By Braden Wallenkamp Outside in Wisconsin, the soil is frozen and most plants have gone dormant for the season. But on a patch of soil, facing the vegetable fields at Gwenyn Hill Farm, are two 30 by 96 foot gothic style hoop houses that cover unfrozen soil and provide space to grow at temperatures up...

Fall Frolic for CSA Members

By Liz Lyon On September 19, 2021, Gwenyn Hill Farm CSA members and their families gathered at the farm for our annual Fall Frolic celebration. The weather was hot and sunny: perfect for one last summer hurrah before we head into autumn and the last few weeks of our CSA season. Alexis and Braden grilled...

Resilient, Diversified Farming

February 18, 2020 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...

Hope Springs Eternal

March 30, 2020 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...

Till the Cows Come Home

July 1, 2020 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...

Getting Serious About Our Next Generation of Farmers

By Linda Halley | Grim agricultural statistics are not secret. Most of us are aware that the average age of an American farmer is 58, and rising. The USDA reports that a mere 16% are “beginning” farmers, those with 10 (or fewer) years under their belts. But did you know that approximately half of US...

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...

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...

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...

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