Ruminant, The Grand Masticator, a transformed John Deere combine by Minnesota artist Karl Unnasch, a temporary art installation along the Farm/Art DTour 2013. Photo by Aaron Dysert
As we enter the autumn season, the harvest is on most Wisconsinites’ minds. I’m particularly excited to be participating in an upcoming gathering in Reedsburg where the Wormfarm Institute’s annual Fermentation Fest will be taking place from October 4th through the 13th. In addition to workshops on cooking and fermenting food, and even homebrewing, this “live culture convergence” will feature the nationally acclaimed Farm/Art DTour, a 50-mile self-guided drive through the rolling hills and farmlands in the “Driftless Area” of Sauk County.
On that Sunday the 12th, from 4 to 6 pm I will be participating on a panel called “The Art of the Rural – Creating Thriving Places Beyond the City” at the Woolen Mill Gallery, 28 E Main St. in Reedburg. We’ll explore how local food systems and arts and culture can combine to be integral strategies for fostering economic development in rural areas. I will be joined by a distinguished panel which includes: Jamie Bennett, the President of ArtPlace America, a national philanthropy consortium; Matthew Fluharty of Washington University who leads Art of the Rural; Sarah Lloyd, a Wisconsin Dells dairy farmer, rural sociologist and member of the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative, a 2014 recipient of a USDA Value-Added Producer Grant, and Curt Meine, conservation biologist and Aldo Leopold biographer. Read more »
Jim VanDerPol get his pigs ready for market on his Pastures A Plenty farm in Kerkhoven, Minn.
“We think that fresh air and sunshine are the best health guarantee.” That’s the quote you’ll see after opening a brochure from Pastures A Plenty Farm. Spend an hour with the VanDerPol family and you quickly understand that those words are much more than just a marketing slogan. It’s the family’s philosophy.
Pastures A Plenty’s pork products can be found in many co-ops, retail outlets, restaurants and local stores throughout Minnesota. The VanDerPols feed their hogs on grass and straw and use a wholistic veterinary approach featuring probiotics and spices instead of drugs. Read more »
The recently concluded South Dakota State Fair is ‘Still the One!’ The Value Added Agriculture Development Center (VAADC) hosted Value Added Ag Day at the 2012 South Dakota State Fair on August 30th. USDA Rural Development was represented at the tent and State Director Elsie Meeks was on a panel discussion titled Growing Rural South Dakota. The discussion was focused on the respective businesses and their development and expansion of agribusiness ventures that have brought value to our agricultural producers and local-state economies. Meeks spoke on the long term partnership and support our agency has provided to the Center, provided examples of business and cooperative programs offered through USDA Rural Development, as well as USDA celebrating its 150th anniversary. Participants were able to view the timeline posters displayed inside the tent.
The Value Added Agriculture Development Center and its member contingency of rural-based commodity groups, trade organizations and cooperatives provide education and technical assistance to individuals, groups and communities. Read more »
The McCarty family moved to the plains of western Kansas to allow their four sons to fulfill their dairy farming destiny. The first stage of a multi-year collaboration with The Dannon Company is in the background: a milk processing and condensing plant that helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the yogurt. Pictured left to right are Mike, Clay, Judy, Tom, David and Ken McCarty. (Submitted photo. Used with permission).
June is Dairy Month. In agricultural circles, the term “Value-Added” often implies a business venture through which an agricultural producer, or group of producers, further process a commodity in the value-chain that leads to the ultimate consumer. But sometimes, the value-added of a value-added venture moves well beyond further processing of a commodity. Read more »
Value Added Producer Grant recipients in Vermont will use USDA support to increase on-farm production of dairy products. (Photo taken by a USDA employee)
It was a snow day in New England, but up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, in the little town of Hardwick, several people were gathered at the VT Food Venture Center, a local food incubator, to sign USDA Value Added Grant papers for the new businesses they are starting up.
The Michaud family of East Hardwick is launching Kingdom Creamery of Vermont, LLC. out of their newly finished processing facility on their dairy farm. They are producing ice cream, yogurt and a soft serve mix for local retailers. They received a USDA Value Added Producer grant for working capital purposes for marketing, processing and purchasing packaging and production inventory. Read more »
Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development Minnesota State Director; Tom Smude; Jenni Smude; Carol Anderson, Community Development of Morrison County.
On a farm in small-town Pierz, Minnesota, Tom and Jenni Smude are breaking new ground in the cooking oil business. Tom and Jenni started Smude’s Natural Sunflower Oil in February of 2010 and have enjoyed the ride ever since. What began as an idea to grow a drought-tolerant crop transformed into a rural small-business success story with the potential to become something even bigger. Read more »