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Tag: Sustainability

Sustainability at Gwenyn Hill Farm

August 31, 2021 By Ryan Heinen When asked what is the greatest skill I have for being a farmer, I thought about my experience grazing cows, growing organic crops, and knowledge gained during my dairy grazing apprenticeship. These are important and necessary skills for being a good farmer.  However, I feel the greatest is my...

Wheat with Flavor

July 20, 2021 By Linda Halley There was a time when wheat was “king” in Wisconsin, and our humble state produced more wheat than any other. A weekend road trip revealed that wheat is not just a minor crop here in the state, it is nearly nonexistent. But from 1840 – 1860 every farmer grew...

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...

Gwenyn Hill’s Native Prairie; More than a Pretty Face

August 13, 2021 By Linda Halley In 2019, Ryan Heinen, Gwenyn Hill’s Land and Livestock Manager, seeded ten acres of native grasses and forbs, replacing a relatively poor stand of alfalfa hay. Most of the field lies along Bryn Drive and is very visible from the road. For two years it looked rough and ratty....

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

An App to Study Crop Pollinators

by Katy Thostenson | On a warm, sunny day this past summer, I stood on an organic farm in southern Wisconsin in a patch of watermelon plants that were in full bloom. The research technicians and I were standing still as we observed insect activity on the blooms to document the abundance and diversity of...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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....

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...

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...

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...

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...

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