RTF: Uphoff Farming

Uphoff Farming

This week for Real Time Farms I drafted a sound clip giving an insight on the Uphoff family that has created a long lifestyle that is dedicated to managing people and animals. Their meat is 100% Berkshire certified and while these hogs live a happy life on the farm in open houses they are also providing a high quality product to a variety of local food establishments in Madison, Wisconsin.

For further information check out their Real Time Farm profile or a previous blog post about their meats.

All hail a dedicated farmer.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

RTF: A walk in someone else’s hooves.

When walking through the pastures, barns and enclosures Temple Grandin strives to sense what the animals experience. Her autistic nature allowed her to understand the feelings of America’s farm animals. Her years of experience and research have helped farmers all over the country reconstruct their enclosures, pasture landscapes and even the route to which an animal takes as they exit the farm and head for the processing plant. Temple’s work has inspired many farmers to change their thought process from viewing the animal as a commodity but rather how to better treat the animals with respect. The approach Temple shares through lectures and literature, guides farmers to treat animals in a way that keeps them happy, safe and ultimately healthy. These animals are producing a higher quality meat that is raised more humanely with flavor that is greatly appreciated.

Today’s farming is shifting away from the ‘commodity farmer’ and moving towards a more sustainable and wholesome approach to farming. A commodity farmer is helping to feed America and produce high quantities of food. However, many farmers are starting to approach this differently and follow some of Temple Grandin’s suggestions. This allows farmers to consider the animals’ point of view in their day to day work.

      

Golden Bear Farm is located just outside Sheboygan, Wisconsin where their open pastures extend to roughly 200 acres. The slightly rolling meadows are home to about 50 cows, 100 Berkshire pigs and a handful of horses. The animals graze and incorporate each other as they rotate through various parts of these 200 acres. While one area of their land is being repaired and restored to grow grains for another season the animals are helping to graze the neighboring section. The animals manure along with hay and local fish help to create a fresh and wholesome fertilizer rejuvenating the land once again. Within five years Steve and Marie, founders of Golden Bear Farm, have cultivated their land to offer a home for the animals we currently view as food.

   

Steve and Marie first started looking into Temple Grandin’s work when they purchased some horses; hoping to truly understand the beautiful creatures and train them to some day assist with the farm work. The philosophies and psychology behind working with horses and their ability to sense human’s energy soon because how Steve and Marie approached their cows and pigs. The more they thought about this approach the better sense it started to make while today it is deeply ingrained in their approach to farming.

Golden Bear Farm follows the stages of farming all the way to the end – the butcher. They spent many years researching butchers to make sure they were able to offer a wholesome product through and through. Golden Bear Farm works very diligently to make sure the animals are raised 100% grass-fed, organic and with absolutely no antibiotics or hormones. Beck’s Meat Processing in central Wisconsin follows through the organic process by avoiding the use of nitrates and any other impure substances while processing Golden Bear meats.

The Golden Bear Farm’s success lies in an idea that Steve and Marie stumbled upon years ago, grass is not simply grass. They came to the realization that the animals raised should be treated like “you and me”. These two farmers said, “we choose to look at it from the whole picture, soil on up.” Their own philosophies regarding food and the land its grown on, Temple’s inspiring work and the animals themselves have all helped Golden Bear Farm produce a pure and divine product that is appreciated by all who enjoy it.

All hail the spirit of animals.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

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