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Tag: gwenyn hill farm

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...

The Red Devons at Gwenyn Hill

August 13, 2021 By Linda Halley and Ryan Heinen The Red Devon calves are arriving at Gwenyn Hill Farm.  They are a sturdy 70 pounds at birth, ready, within minutes, to test out their legs and look for their first milk.  They are born on pasture and won’t get familiar with the inside of a...

Gwenyn means Honeybee

April 21, 2021 By Linda Halley Quentin Stedman has kept bees at Gwenyn Hill since 2018, our second year into transitioning the farm to organic. We knew that as we developed the farm, establishing prairies, orchards, gardens, and pastures, our crops would benefit from an abundance of pollinators. We also knew that Gwenyn Hill Farm...

Big Little Farm Dreams

by Alexis Champagne | Like many of you reading this, I streamed the Biggest Little Farm on Amazon Prime and fell in love with what agriculture could look like. That’s just it though, what it could be – not necessarily what it is now. My name is Alexis Champagne and I am one of the...

Our Future Food System

by Liz Lyon | If you’re reading this journal post, you’re probably aware of the myriad issues surrounding the way much of America’s food is currently grown, distributed, consumed, and wasted. When I get bogged down in these issues, I remind myself of the future I’d like to see.  This is a future where land...

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...

Thank You

by Linda Halley | Having felt robbed by the pandemic of Thanksgiving, and fearing Christmas was shaping up to be the same, I settled down to a deep winter dinner, made by me, for me. On the longest night of the year, though alone in the house, I would feel surrounded by my friends who...

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...

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,...

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....

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....

Woods, More Than Just a Shady Place

By Linda Halley | For the past couple of generations, woodlots have been a neglected part of most Wisconsin farms. Woodlots were once a valuable farm resource, used as shady summer pasture and a source for heating fuel and building materials. Farmers cleared the richest land for crops and open pastures but often left trees...

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...

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,...

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...

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....

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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