Allen, Zimmern to speak at Kickapoo Country Fair, July 30

From an article from the Vernon County Broadcaster:

LA FARGE — The Kickapoo Country Fair, taking place on Saturday, July 30, in La Farge, announced its keynote speakers are to be nationally renowned food leaders Will Allen and Andrew Zimmern.

Allen, an urban agriculture pioneer and founder of Growing Power, a farm and community food center in Milwaukee, and Zimmern, chef and star of the Travel Channel’s hit series, “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” both hail from the Midwest and have helped establish the region as a center for food culture and advocacy. Rounding out the day-long celebration will be country music headliner The Kentucky Headhunters.

Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative with 1,636 organic farmers nationwide – dozens of which are located just miles from the fair grounds – created the Kickapoo Country Fair eight years ago as a healthy alternative to the traditional deep-fried fair. Nestled amid the steep hills and coulees of southwestern Wisconsin’s Driftless region, this year’s Kickapoo Country Fair will attract thousands of attendees for a day-long exploration of all things food, including hands-on workshops, craft and cooking classes, issues-based seminars, poetry and theater performances, farm tours, live music and more-all offered at an affordable price for families. Passes providing access to all activities are only $5 for adults, $2 for kids 12 and under, and free for kids five and under.

“We’re excited to spice up this year’s event with two food leaders who, similar to our co-op, have been instrumental in helping establish the Midwest‘s prominent role in the changing food movement,” Theresa Marquez, chief marketing officer for Organic Valley, said. “The opportunity to hear from such renowned personalities, chefs, farmers and advocates, all while eating delicious local and organic food in the beautiful Kickapoo region, is truly a unique food experience only a dedicated community like ours could cook up.”

Allen, Zimmern Take Center Stage
Will Allen, named one of TIME Magazine’s “World’s Most Influential People” in 2010 and recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grant, will take center stage at 11:30 a.m.

Allen is among the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy and systems and is the founder of Growing Power. Based in Milwaukee, Growing Power serves as a “living museum” or “idea factory” on sustainable food systems for the young, the elderly, farmers, producers and other professionals ranging from USDA personnel to urban planners. Training areas include everything from urban agriculture, permaculture and food distribution, to community engagement and participatory leadership.

At 1:30 p.m., Andrew Zimmern will address fair-goers with a keynote speech and cooking demonstration. Zimmern is a Twin Cities native, James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, food writer, teacher, and is regarded as one of the most knowledgeable personalities in the food world. As the co-creator and host of the Travel Channel’s hit series “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” and “Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Food World,” he travels the world exploring food unique to various communities. From world-class restaurants to jungle carts to Kickapoo Country Fair booths, Zimmern is all about discovering and sharing authentic, local food experiences.

'Buy Local' grants in jeopardy

From an article by Mike Ivey in the La Crosse Tribune:

VIROQUA – Fifth Season Cooperative of Viroqua could serve as a model for business development in rural Wisconsin.

Ready to open for this spring’s growing season, Fifth Season connects small farmers and processors with large institutional customers such as schools, universities or hospitals. The idea is to directly tie producers to markets, eliminating the middleman, to keep prices affordable for local meats, produce and dairy.

“We’re one of just a handful of multi-stakeholder cooperatives in the United States,” says Nicole Penick, coordinator for the co-op.

Members so far include organic and conventional farmers; processors Organic Valley, Westby Co-op Creamery and Premier Meats; and purchasers Gundersen Lutheran, Vernon Memorial Healthcare, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Western Technical College and Viroqua Area School District.

After nearly two years of planning, Fifth Season was launched last August as a for-profit venture. It was helped with a $40,000 business development grant, the largest issued in 2010, through the state’s Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program.

The Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grant program was part of former Gov. Jim Doyle’s 2008 budget and was designed to connect local food producers with local buyers. It has awarded about $220,000 annually in development grants over the past three years. Recipients in 2010 included the Bayfield Apple Co., Perfect Pasture in Ashland, the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition and Green & Green Distribution in Mineral Point.

But the grant program is on Gov. Scott Walker’s budget chopping block and was not included in his proposed 2011-13 budget – a development some call short-sighted and contrary to Walker’s goal of growing the private-sector economy.

Local B&B recognized for green practices

From an article article by Casandra Colson in the Jackson County Chronicle:

Living “green” always has been a way of life for Brambleberry Bed and Breakfast owners Chris and Sherry Hardie.

“That type of lifestyle was automatic,” Sherry said. “It wasn’t anything we strived for — it was the way we were raised.”

The Hardies, who each grew up on a dairy farm, now make sure Brambleberry Bed and Breakfast guests get a taste of what it’s like to live sustainable lifestyles during their stays at the couple’s rural Taylor getaway destination.

Brambleberry was named one of Wisconsin’s Eco-Elegant B&Bs by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism last year, and it’s also one of the state’s certified Travel Green destinations since 2008.

Travel Green Wisconsin businesses need to score at least 30 points in the certification process to receive the designation. Branbleberry scored 71.

“That’s a really good score and shows their support for sustainability,” said Shelly Allness, Travel Green Wisconsin program manager.

The Hardies were chosen to have the fifth-top eco-elegant inn, largely because of their commitment to growing and using homegrown produce for guest meals. They make homemade blackberry wine, use fresh herbs, serve homegrown pork and eggs and also make and serve homemade maple syrup.

Growing Power initiative to create 150 new jobs

From an article in Biz Times Daily:

With legislation signed by Mayor Tom Barrett following a unanimous vote by the Milwaukee Common Council, Growing Power Inc., has been awarded $425,000 to build 150 hoop house gardens on vacant land within the city.
The farms will be tended by beginning urban farmers, creating 150 new jobs that will be filled by unemployed people in Milwaukee.

Growing Power’s proposal, called “Growing Capacity for the Green Economy,” was made in February to Milwaukee’s African-American Male Unemployment Task Force, whose mission is to work with community organizations and businesses to reduce joblessness among black males in Milwaukee. Recent estimates have put Milwaukee’s African-American male unemployment rate at more than 25 percent, one of the highest rates in the nation.

The grant, which comes from federal Housing and Urban Development funding, will be administered by Milwaukee’s Community Development Block Grant office.

“This is a strong beginning,” said Will Allen, founder of Growing Power and nationally recognized urban agriculture leader. “To do this program right, we will need three times this amount. Our workers will need training and we will need support staff, in addition to the hoop houses themselves.”

Despite the financial challenge, Allen is upbeat about the program’s future.

“We can find this money. The low overall cost for the benefits the program will bring – both in terms of creating jobs and providing fresh, nutritious food for urban families – will hopefully be a powerful formula for success” Allen said.

Viola farmer to speak at Washington, D.C., organic conference

From a news release issued by the Organic Farming Research Foundation:

Organic farmers from across the U.S. will join the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s(OFRF) new executive director Maureen Wilmot for the Organic Trade Association’s(OTA’s) Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days in Washington, DC April 6-7, 2011.

Five entrepreneurial organic farmers will journey from Georgia, Maine, New York, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin to discuss the beneficial impacts of their farm businesses on rural economies and on environmental and public health with their congressional members who sit on key agriculture and appropriations committees and subcommittees. OFRF is a supporting organization of the OTA event and Ms. Wilmot will be a speaker at the conference.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity for members of Congress to learn from the farmers themselves about the role of organic farmers who really are the “roots” of the burgeoning 26 billion dollar organic industry,” said Ms. Wilmot.

Ms. Wilmot, OFRF staff, and the organic farmers will join with other OTA member companies to visit key members of Congress to discuss the economic and social viability of organic farming. The organization seeks to make organic farming viable, profitable, and attractive for the American farmers of today and those of the future.

“Organic farmers are the heart of the organic movement – without their commitment to vibrant communities and healthy ecosystems, the organic industry as we know it today could not exist,” said Ms. Wilmot. “In addition,” she noted, “Organic farmers contribute to a diverse U.S. agriculture. Investing in their future will benefit both consumers and rural communities nationwide.”

OFRF’s grant making program has worked closely with organic farmers for almost 20 years, awarding more than $2.5 million for over 300 organic research projects nationwide since 1992.

The five organic farmers OFRF is bringing to the OTA event are:

1. Mark Shepard is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises and the owner and manager of New Forest Farms in Viola, WI. New Forest Farms is a 104 acre perennial agricultural farm and forest considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agricultural projects in the U.S. Mark and his family grow organic fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts.

2. Will Harris and his family own and operate White Oak Pastures, an organic, grass-fed beef cattle farm in Bluffton, GA, which received the Governor’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2009 and 2011. Will is the President of Georgia Organics’ Board of Directors and is the Beef Director of the American Grassfed Association.

3. Michael Kilpatrick is the owner of Kilpatrick Family Farm which grows vegetables and raises chickens using organic practices on over 100 acres near Granville, NY. The farm sells to four farmers markets per week, employs 6 people full-time, and grows produce year-round in high tunnels.

4. Kathy Moore owns Anichini-Moore Ranch and Farm in Woodward, OK. The ranch “The Ranch” focuses on education and soil building, and produces rare breed sheep, wool, grass-pastured lamb, large Black Pig products, Belted Galloway beef, Bison, produce, flowers, nuts and fruit. Kathy is the co-founder of the Oklahoma Composting Council and received the Oklahoma State University Green Award for Sustainability in March 2011.

5. Sarah Smith and her husband own Grassland Farm in Skowhegan, Maine, a certified organic farm and dairy. She and her family milk 45 diverse dairy cows and produce organic, grass-fed beef and chickens as well as a wide range of vegetables. Sarah will be joining the conference on behalf of Organic Valley, the Wisconsin-based organic dairy marketing cooperative, which works closely with OFRF to promote organic agriculture.