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Tag: Organic Farm Wisconsin

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...

Being Essential

By Linda Halley | These days, more often than not, phone calls start with, “How are you doing?” and it is not meant rhetorically. We actually share meaningful information about our lives in the COVID-19  era. While what is happening around the world seems completely unreal, socially distanced interactions with friends, family, neighbors, customers, and...

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...

Deep Winter Inspiration About our Food System

By Linda Halley with Birke Baehr | Nearly a decade ago I ran across a TED talk that brightened my day like no other. Like most TED talks it was informative and well presented. What was unique was that the speaker was only 11 years old and he was talking about the food system. He was...

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...

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,...

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....

Monarch Butterflies & Other Pollinators

By Laurel Blomquist and Kelly Krause Part One: Planting Milkweed & Pollinator Habitat By Laurel Blomquist | Last fall, we were fortunate that our neighbor, Jill from Tall Pines Conservancy, reached out to us with a treasure trove of mature milkweed pods. We overwintered them in our greenhouse, and in the spring, Ryan burned off...

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...

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...

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...

Opportunities and Optimism at the University of Wisconsin

by Erin Silva | The broad negative impacts of the way in which we produce food are becoming increasingly evident. Regularly we see news headlines reporting on pollinator decline, contamination of our ground and surface waters, and the negative health impacts of the American diet. Further, the people and communities that are producing our food are...

Who Gets Kissed? and Other Corny Seed Varieties

by Linda Halley | On the heels of Christmas catalogs come the seed catalogs. Farmers and gardeners alike love to pour over the colorful pages searching for old favorites and promising new varieties. But behind what might seem like a pleasant, winter wish-book is actually big business controlling what gets planted in 10,000 acre farms and backyard gardens. The...

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...

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....

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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....

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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