About Sylvia Burgos Toftness

A Latina from the tenements of the South Bronx, I now raise 100% grass-fed beef in west central Wisconsin with my husband Dave. We believe more people will choose to farm and eat healthful foods if they know the connections between what we eat and how it's grown. That's why we invite you to walk the fields with us; hear from experts on my Saturday morning show, Deep Roots Radio; share our adventures on my blog, From the Bronx to the Barn; and buy our sustainably grown beef. We farm with a tiny carbon hoofprint (R) so that you can enjoy great-tasting grass-fed beef that's high in nutrition while helping to restore our environment.

Audio

David S. Cargo: community ovens and classes to build portable wood-fired ovens

Always dreamed of pulling crisp, bubbling pizzas from your own wood-fired oven? Whether you live on a city lot or out in the country, David S. Cargo can show you how to build a portable oven in just a couple of hours. No special tools required. You’ll leave the class with know-how, new friends, and having enjoyed some freshly made pizza, pita and naan. Ya can’t beat just-baked artisan breads.

I hope you enjoy this Deep Roots Radio interview with David S. Cargo, professional baker, community oven enthusiast, and popular instructor. He’ll be holding his hands-on classes in five states this year, including Minnesota and Wisconsin. You can find his class schedule on his website, here.

Sylvia

A couple of newly constructed ovens

Audio

Rancher Gabe Brown on regenerative, holistic farming on any scale, and profitability even in transition

I hope you enjoy this Deep Roots Radio interview with North Dakota rancher Gabe Brown on the principles of regenerative farming that will yield health and profitability even as you transition your operation – large or small.

Gabe will be in Amery, Wisconsin February 9th for a full day workshop in which he will describe how he, wife and son have worked to transform their 2,000-acre, diversified farm to a healthy, profitable business while improving soil and regenerating the landscape. In addition to raising and direct-marketing grass-fed beef and other livestock, Gabe grows and sells cash crops from his sustainable farm.

Go to hungryturtle.net to register for the workshop. I hope to see you there!

Sylvia

Audio

Andrew French-about breeding/raising happy heritage cross pigs on pasture w/o hormones, antibiotics

I hope you’ll enjoy this Deep Roots Radio interview with Andrew French about breeding and raising heritage-cross pigs in the frigid Wisconsin climate. Andrew is owner/farmer of Full Boar Farm13567341_1045922135462087_1991272975066190573_n-2 in Boyceville, Wisconsin, and a frequent contributor about sustainable farming to magazines such as ACRES USA.
His objectives? Happy, healthy pigs; restoring the land; and, producing great-tasting pork.

Sylvia

Audio

American Public Media on Bull Brook Keep – about un-retiring to the farm

As Dave and I look forward to 2017, and look back on the several few years, I again appreciate an interview I did with American Public Media’s Chris Farrell last year.
Chris’ program is about unretirement – what people are planning and doing as they retire from one career and move into the next part of their lives.
SummerIconThanks again, Chris, for visiting Bull Brook Keep and for considering the values David and I strive to live as we’ve made that shift from our city-based careers to our farm-anchored lives.
I hope you enjoy this interview. Bonus: the episode ends with Dessa’s “Beekeeper.”
You can find out lots more about Chris’s program, resources and other interviews at Facebook.com/unretirement.
And, I trust you will have an absolutely wonderful New Year!
Sylvia

Dec. 3, 9-9:30AM CT. Live, why bees matter

We’ve heard about it again and again: the bees are dying off, whole hives collapsing or just disappearing. Recent news stories told us the transplants we buy at local greenhouses contain pesticides that’ll kill bees. And we know that without bees and other pollinators some of our favorite foods will simply not grow. At all!

Join me and co-host Dave Corbett as we chat with Erin Rupp, executive director and founder of Pollinate Minnesota. What do bees do in winter? And how do they communicate with one another? And just what do they mean to the veggies and fruits eat?

What: Deep Roots Radio interview with Erin Rupp, Pollinate Minnesota ED/founder
When: Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, 9:00-9:30AM Central Time
Where: WPCA RADIO, 93.1FM and streamed live on www.wpcaradio.org
Why: Many fruits and vegetables depend on pollinators, like bees, to carry pollen from plant to plant so that fruit and seeds will grow. No bees, no fruit! Learn how Pollinate Minnesota is working to protect and encourage these critical workers in our food system.

Sylvia

The holidays are coming! The holidays are coming! Got your skills & gift ideas in hand?

I can’t believe it – Thanksgiving is next week!! It’s the kick off of the who-can-make-the-most-memorable-meal-and-still-look-totally-relaxed season.
And as if that weren’t enough, each of us tends to think back (dare I say, compare) to wonderful get-together’s of years past. (How is it that the quality of Grandma’s cooking rises a few inches every year?)
And then there’s the gift giving craze. Heaven help us!

Well, here are two or three fun things to consider as you rev up for the next 40 days of food and festivity:
Learn to bake hearth breads. Join with a handful of friends for a fun- and flour-filled afternoon. Yup, you can do it in your home oven. You can learn about breads based on mild French Sourdough or poolish (the starter used for making focaccia, pizza and ciabatta, just to name a few). Bread classes are: Nov. 19, Dec. 10, or Dec.17. For info and to register for one of these dates, click here.
Prepare Grass-fed beef & other pastured meats. Class demonstrates two very different approaches to preparing pastured meats for great taste and high nutrition: low & slow, AND fast. It’s not rocket science, but these approaches put lean and flavorful qualities of pastured meats center stage. Class Dec. 3. For information and to register, click here.
– Gift a class to friend or family.
– Schedule a private class for a handful of friends. Just call to arrange, 651-238-8525
– Ready for unexpected visitors? Want to start your meal with a bang? Or gathering snacks for the big game? Order 100% grass-fed beef summer sausage now. Eat guilt-free! Our summer sausage does not include added artificial nitrates and nitrites.
– Tie a bow around the summer sausage and it’s a gift!

Ben Hewitt on 21st Century homesteading for a meaningful, healthful life on 40 acres or in a 400-sq ft apartment

Author, homesteader Ben Hewitt

Author, homesteader Ben Hewitt

I hope you enjoy this Deep Roots Radio chat with author and modern-day homesteader Ben Hewitt. An engaging storyteller, Ben pulls you right into his books and their characters. His most recent publication is The Nourishing Homestead: One Back-to-the-land Family’s Plan for Cultivating Soil, Skills and Spirit. Ben, his wife Penny and their two sons grow 90% of their foods and build their lives on 40 acres in Vermont.
What they’ve learned over the years “is readily transferable to any place — whether you live on 4 acres, 40 acres or in a 400-square-foot studio apartment.

On November 10, 2016, Hewitt be in Amery, Wisconsin to share a great meal, and to describe his experiences and ideas about the tie between growing your food and quality of life, environmental consciousness and rebuilding local community.

He’s also written:
– The Town that Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food
– Making Supper Safe: One Man’s Quest to Learn the Truth about Food Safety
– Home Grown: The Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling and Reconnecting with the Natural World

Enjoy a local organic dinner, and conversation with Ben Hewitt
Nov. 10, 2015, 6:00-9:00PM
Farm Table Restaurant, Amery, WI
For tickets, www.hungryturtle.net

Frost on the pumpkin means baking and cooking classes at Bull Brook Keep

What better way to warm up your kitchen – and light up the faces of family and friends – than with the aromas and flavors of freshly baked artisan breads, and luscious grass-fed beef, lamb, pastured pork or pasture-raised chicken?!

Lovely crispy crust

Lovely crispy crust

Yes, you can bake hearth breads in your home oven and with your busy schedule. Get your hands in dough and learn how to use time, temperature and hydration (the amount of water in the dough) to bend the baking process to fit your schedule.
Each class is limited to 4-6 students. Beverages, samples and hearty lunch provided. Cost: $48.50/student (plus small credit card fee).

  • Classes based on poolish (a bubbly, batter-like yeast starter used to make focaccia, ciabatta and pizza), Oct. 29 or Dec. 10. For details.
  • Classes based on French Sourdough (a mild, versatile country bread), Nov. 19, or Dec. 17. For details.
  • Cooking Grass-fed Beef, and pastured Pork and Chicken
    Pastured meats tend to be lean, which is why it’s so important to cook them properly. You don’t want to dry out your roast, or toughen a steak. In our meat cooking class, we’ll look at two approaches for great taste, tenderness and high nutrition: low and slow, and fast using a pressure cooker to make delicious short ribs or beef stew, fall-apart chicken or bone broth, to name just a few dishes.

    5-7-hr flamed-brandy chuck roast

    5-7-hr flamed-brandy chuck roast

    Each class is limited to 4-6 students. Beverages, samples and a hearty, meaty lunch provided. Cost: $49.25/student (plus small credit card fee).

  • Cook delicious pastured meats fast & slow, Nov.1, 1-5PM, for details.
  • li>Cook delicious pastured meats fast & slow, Dec. 3, 11AM-3PM, for details.
  • How long has it been??? What’s happening on this city-girl’s farm.

    What happened?? Where did the summer go?
    Well, if your life’s anything like mine, your Monday-Friday went to work and family. And your weekends, if you planned well and were able to add a dash of good luck, were spent doing lots of chores. You know – the laundry, food shopping, buying school supplies, banking, and repairing this-and-that. Hopefully you took some time for coffee with friends, and maybe dinner out with your sweetie.

    A few 2016 calves

    A few 2016 calves

    The growing season started with the arrival of our spring calves. All our new little BueLingos were born out on our pastures and unassisted. This season also required that we up our game and manage our pastures for a slightly larger herd. This summer’s frequent rains helped keep the much-needed grass growing.
    We began harvesting in July, and will take our final two beeves to the custom USDA processor in a month or so. (Those two animals will go exclusively for ground beef and summer sausage.)
    Today, we get ready for an annual right-of-passage – tagging every calf, and castrating the bull calves. Once castrated, the male calves are called steers, and they’ll graze for two years to harvest age and condition. Until that time, all the cattle will enjoy the best of care: 365 days a year on grassy fields, sunshine and fresh air, a 100% grass diet, and the company and calm of their herd. It makes for contented, healthy cattle, and, ultimately, great-tasting and highly nutritious beef.
    And that’s the heart of it: health and happiness – for the the cows, the land, and for you and me.
    We all benefit from farming and living with a tiny carbon hoof print (TM)*, truly sustainable farming.
    Thank you for visiting the farm and sharing the story of your food journey. I really enjoyed making frequent deliveries in Amery, Polk and St. Croix counties, and the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area.
    I look forward to meeting you. Please visit. And until then, enjoy the cooling fall weather.
    Sylvia

    *tiny carbon hoofprint is a US registered trademark belonging to Bull Brook Keep.

    Our Variety Packages are SOLD OUT for 2016. Ground beef and Summer Sausage still available.

    Thanks to all our Bull Brook Keep customers for a great season. It was great to meet you on the farm or when making deliveries.

    The demand for our 100% grass-fed beef continues to grow, and we are now sold out of our variety packages for this year.

    However, we have ground beef and summer sausage available, and I recommend ordering sooner than later. Click here to order online.

    If you’re interested in 100% grass-fed beef for next year, please check back. You can find out about our variety packages by clicking here. We’ll reopen our web store in May 2017.

    Have a great fall season! And know you’re always welcome to visit the farm. Whether you’ve purchased beef from us or not, we’d love to walk the pastures with you, introduce you to our herd, and hear about your journey into good food.

    Sylvia & Dave