RTF: A food activist taking action

Standing up for the food America is eating and working to make a change was all a lot of talk until Jessica Weiland decided to take her activism a step farther, by planting some seeds. Rhine Center resident Jessica Weiland and farming partner Sam Hitchcock Tilton spend their days farming about 120 acres in an unincorporated part of Sheboygan County, in eastern Wisconsin. The two owners of Rhine Center Vegetable Club run a CSA farm with roughly 30 different vegetables changing seasonally. The CSA collection sometimes includes their free range chickens, along with the pristine eggs ranging in color and including the pale blue egg, laid by the Ameraucana chickens. Their farm also supports a handful of grass-fed Berkshire hogs that are sold as whole animals for a local pig roasts, or a friends’ wedding ceremony, as well as of course a few kept for themselves.

  

The way of life Jess and Sam live is a community based ‘off the grid’ style that allows them to nourish their bodies with the food they produce everyday. Their farm hands Seth and 14-year-old Nick help create a community and build the wealth of information running their business. Opening only two years ago, their CSA is helping them to succeed in crafting a community around food. An example of this type of community is exhibited by a local using their land to create a home for his bee’s that produce honey  sold locally and also helps to pollinate the farm’s plants. Or a mutual friend helping to weed baby carrots throughout a blistering summer afternoon in return for a basket full of vegetables.

When reviewing the way they farm Jess and Sam do not wish to claim a USDA organic product but instead strive to educate their customers on the organic land that the food is grown on. They view the soil as an important part of farming their produce and want to share that there are no chemicals, pesticides or impure substances used throughout any step of the process.

 

The Rhine Center Vegetable Club is located outside Sheboygan, Wisconsin and only 60 miles from Milwaukee. These cities help distribute their produce that is leftover after the CSA boxes are accounted for. The Goodside Grocery co-op is a deliver point in Sheboygan as well as the east side of Milwaukee and a drop off in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Their efforts are kept local to change the way people view their food and introduce home-grown vegetables along with unique varieties.

These young farmers want to live a life they are proud of and offer a product that they would consume. Their educational background at the University of Minnesota help them understand the business demands of a farm and their own activism efforts with Slow Food USA and WWOOFing encourages them to make a difference.

Cheers to them and all hail a CSA farm.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

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