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Tag: 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...

Wheat with Flavor

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 wheat. It...

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...

Laying the Foundation for Local Food: How UW-Madison’s Seed to Kitchen Collaborative Supports & Informs Our Regional Foodshed, Part Two

by Dylan Bruce and Jenyne Loarca |  Why a decentralized seed system with context-relevant data is so important The process of selecting, breeding, and trialing a new vegetable variety is a substantial investment, often taking 8 -15 years before that variety is ready for release. Still, a plant breeder might not know how their variety...

Laying the Foundation for Local Food: How UW-Madison’s Seed to Kitchen Collaborative Supports and Informs our Regional Foodshed, Part One

By Dylan Bruce and Jenyne Loarca, Photos by Dylan Bruce | In the depths of winter, there’s a particular joy in flipping through a seed catalog, dreaming of next year’s gardens and fields, and sunny days outside. Deciding which crops, and which varieties, to grow are among the most critical decisions a farmer or gardener...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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....

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...

How I Would Use This Week’s Share, Part II

by Laurel Blomquist, Head Gardener | Fall is officially in full swing, and the sheer variety of vegetables may have some of you scratching your heads. This post was so popular during the summer that I thought I would do it again for fall. The first thing I would do is check to see which vegetables...

Flavor Rules

by Linda Halley, General Manager | This past week Gwenyn Hill Farm hosted the Kettle Moraine Garden Club. There’s so much to say about what we do here and why. I have to narrow my messaging so we don’t feel like we are in a graduate-level lecture with a test at the end. I like to...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Midwest CSA Conference

By Laurel Blomquist | Last week, Linda and I attended the 3rd Midwest CSA Conference, put on by Wisconsin Farmers Union in Baraboo, WI. It is a joke among farmers in the Midwest that winter is “Conference Season” since growing is very difficult, if not impossible, during these cold winter months. This was the first...

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