Field walk. Meet the moos! Taste great beef. Saturday, July 15, 10AM-4PM @ Bull Brook Keep

How much grass can a cow eat in a day? How fast does a calf run? Do you know how grazing improves the land? What top nutrients are in grass-fed beef?

You can find out this Saturday at the Eat Local Co-op Farm Tour! And Bull Brook Keep is one of the 27 rural and urban farms welcoming visitors to our farms that day.

What you’ll see and do:
– Move the herd at 10AM, 1:00PM and 3:00PM
– Gather wildflowers during a field walk
– Hear how 100% grass diet benefits pastures, cows and people
– See how our BueLingo cattle thrive without grain, hormones or subclinical antibiotics
– Taste some really delicious beef


We’ve got lots of parking, and there’ll be a porta-potty for your convenience. We are an easy, and very scenic, drive (here’s the map) from the Twin Cities and any point in Polk or St. Croix counties.

So grab your sunglasses, cap and sun-screen and come on out. We’d love to learn about your food journey.

Sylvia & Dave

Just what is a CSA farm? Is there one near you?

from CSA

CSAs, like farmers markets, have been increasing in number dramatically in the last 10 years. Here’s some basic information about CSAs and why they’re a good source of fresh, local produce.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, each CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or “share-holders” of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer’s salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests.
By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.

Find a CSA Farm Near You Search National farm databases by city, state, or zipcode

Local Harvest – http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
AgMap – http://agmap.psu.edu/
Search the Business category for the term Community Supported Agriculture or use the Advanced Search to find a local CSA.
Wilson College, Robyn Van En Center, CSA Farm Database – http://www2.wilson.edu/CsaSearch/
The Eat Well Guide – http://www.eatwellguide.org/

Local Food Directories. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service. Includes directories of farmers markets, on-farm markets, CSAs, and food hubs.
https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/local-regional/food-directories
Local Food Directories. ATTRA – The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service – http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/local_food/search.php

Three Wisconsin women farmers battle to legalize sale of home-baked goods

In this Deep Roots Radio interview, Lisa Kivirist describes the multi-year battle to legalize the sale of home-baked goods in the state Wisconsin. The Badger state has been one of only two in the entire country that has not permitted the sale of home-baked muffins, cookies and breads.
Lisa is one of three women farmers who sued the state in this effort, and recently won a state Judge’s declaration that the ban against the sale of home-baked goods is unconstitutional.Her sister champions in this effort are Dela Ends (Scotch Hill Farm) and Kriss Marion (Circle M Farm and Bed & Breakfast).
Lisa is an assertive champion of women farmers and their ability to build their farm-based businesses. The author of several books on eco-entrepreneurship, she and her husband run the award-winning Inn Serendipity Farm and Bread and Breakfast in southern Wisconsin.
I hope you enjoy this lively interview.
Sylvia

French sourdough boules

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.

Audio

Chefs for sustainable food – James Beard Foundation VP Kris Moon on the new Impact Programs

We all know that chefs can cook, some of them extraordinarily. And we know that what they cook can reflect and flavor local culture. But did you know our chefs can – and increasingly do – play a role in redesigning a more sustainable, healthful food system in America?
I really enjoyed this conversation with Kris Moon, Vice President of the James Beard Foundation because the foundation’s Impact Programs spotlight and promote chef-led efforts to rebuild a more nutritious and regionally-sourced food system in our country.
Experienced and trained in restaurant management, nutrition and major networking events, Moon is leading programs true to the values and heart of the foundation’s namesake, James Beard – the chef and cookbook author who was lovingly regarded as “America’s favorite chef.”
I hope you enjoy this Deep Roots Radio conversation.
Sylvia

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how its grown

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how its grown

Beth Dooley, live, Sat. Jan. 30 – local winter recipes in the land of ice and snow

In last Saturday’s (Jan 13, 2016) Deep Roots Radio interview, chef/author/journalist Beth Dooley described how she came to live in the chilly Upper Midwest, and how it’s not only possible, but delicious to cook with local ingredients in snow-covered Minnesota. This history and grounding is at the heart of her new book, In Winter’s Kitchen.

This Saturday, Jan. 30, Beth will take us to the next step and describe actual recipes – ingredients and spices – for winter cooking. Join us!
What: Deep Roots Radio conversation with Beth Dooley on winter cooking in the land of ice and snow
When: Saturday, January 30, 9:00-9:30AM CT
Where: Broadcast and streamed live from the studios of WPCA Radio 93.1FM, www.wpcaradio.org

Here’s a sample recipe for Curry Potato Salad from Beth’s website, Beth Dooley’s Kitchen,Curry Potato Salad Beth Dooley So many others can be found in her cookbook, The Northern Heartland Kitchen.
Beth’s other cookbooks include: Minnesota’s Bounty: The Farmer’s Market Cookbook; Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland (with Lucia Watson); with Tracy Singleton and Marshall Paulsen, The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook); Meat and Potatoes; and, The Heartland: New American Cooking.

#GrazingItalyUK – B&B breakfast and Slow Food at Casa Visconti

Nov. 19 Not all food is authentic Bolognese
The Casa Visconti B&B in the heart of Bologna is proving to be a find, in great part due to lively proprietress Claudia Visconti. Our room and sitting area are bright and art filled, the bathroom tidy and efficient, and the breakfast lovely and tasty. (What’s not to like about frothy espresso, sliced stawberries and Kiwi, and an assortment of pastries?)
The gem, however, is Ms. Visconti herself: energetic, enthusiastic about her city, and discerning about the origins and preperations of meals.
Not everything is “authentic,” she asserts, and she goes out of her way to point us to bistros and restaurants grounded in sourcing from local farms anchored in sustainable practice and in excellent preparation. I’m hoping I can connect with the Slow Food leaders she recommended.
Dessa and I shared our table with a couple from Luxemburg, owners of a store dedicated to artisinal foods from around the world. Real food devotees, they were in town for a Dillan concert. They shared their outlooks on the slow appreciation of links between agricultural practice, nutrition, taste and the cost of good food.
More on these conversations in a future posts.
Sylvia

#GrazingItalyUK – at Derbyshire grass-fed dairy. And rain. Of course.

November 14th.
In Wisconsin, it’s about the snow. In Derbyshire, rain’s the thing
Especially after last night’s misadventure (missed plane), today’s farm visit felt like a special gift.
My early morning flight out of Dublin brought me to the East Midlands, a place of fat white sheep on rolling hills, ancient stone walls, and lovely thick-walled houses hugging narrow, winding roads. Low, stone buildings, many of them hundreds of years old, are home to families, small shops or public services.
The day was grey and chill as I exited the terminal and made my way to a platform where frequently running buses provide convenient and very economical transportation to a wide network of towns and villages.
Robert Thornhill, grass-based dairy farmer, is a 2014 winner of a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, an award and grant given to farmers who want to conduct practical research about sustainable farming on their home turf and by visiting foreign farms. He met me at the Bakewell bus stop and drove us back to his 300-acre Standhill Farm. I am so grateful for the time he and his wife devoted to converation and comfort. He pulled on boots and walked out into the rain to show me his milking parlor and pastures. It was wet out there. Then he and his wife introduced me to their two young sons (just back from a rock climbing lessons) and we all sat down to lunch and steaming tea.
This post will be short, but I promise a longer report on this particular visit because Thornhill is nothing if not both committed to sustainable grazing and to thorough research about how to make this work on his farm. Again, more later.
Right now, I’ll say that Thornhill is a successful dairy farmer for what I observed to be key attributes: thorough, curious and experimental, steadfast and forward thinking.
Thanks, again, Robert.

#GrazingItalyUK — Stranded in Dublin Airport.

…”the best laid plans…”
Nov. 13. Dublin Airport. 10:30PM
Today’s itinerary stated: 7:30PM fly from Dublin to Derbyshire.
We’ll here it is, 10:30PM and I’m sitting in – drum roll – a McDonald’s in Dublin Airport.

McDonald's busy while rest of food court sleeps

McDonald’s busy while rest of food court sleeps


And guess what? It’s crowded. It was fairly quiet 30 minutes ago, but I’m guessing hungry customers will come in waves as planes arrive and depart.
I gotta say, I appreciate the noise and activity. I’m a bit nervous about that time of night when all foot traffic stops. I think it’ll be a bit scary. We’ll see.
Well, I’ve chowed down on a chicken sandwich, fries and a diet soda. Yes, every food rule broken. In my own defense, McD’s was my only choice because the rest of the food court, a fairly large area, is shuttered for the night. Go figure.
Boy, I hadn’t had McD’s in a long time, so it was interesting to note everything tastes exactly as it did years ago. Consistency – yes. Nutrition? A different story.
Stomach full (if body not truly fed), I’m plugged into an outlet, charging up laptop and phone, and talking to you!
Things could be lots worse.
Oh, and how did I end up in this pickle? My bus from Wexford to Dublin took an hour longer than scheduled because of traffic tie-ups. Why all this congestion in small seaside towns? Who knows. I can attest to the fact that there were at least a couple of other bus riders who were very fearful of missing flights. I hope they didn’t.
Ah, my devices all charged up. I wonder if there’s a pub around here?
Sylvia

#GrazingItalyUK – Dublin, and then Wexford

Day 2 in Ireland – a second day of great travel, friendly people, very poor Internet, and non-existant international phone service (although it had been arranged much in advance)
I lost an hour’s worth of writing earlier today. Let’s try this again.

Dublin
My daughter Maggie and I were wheels down in Ireland 8:30AM Nov. 11 and were treated to a ride to our hotel by two bright musicians, entrepreneurs in the local scene. The ride was unusually long (lots of haulted and rerouted traffic) but conversation was lively, so, no complaints.
We made it to the Grafton Hotel, situated in the heart of a busy downtown shopping district. We spent about an hour checking out small shops and a vertical shopping maul a stone’s throw from the hotel. Any American would be comfortable here.
The narrow, winding streets were crowded. The pace was fast and the look very sharp indeed. Dublin is a big city, make no mistake about it. Black is the color, and tight is the mode. Skinny pants, black hose and leggings paired with leather boots – ankle or knee high – or 3″ heels. Long scarves around necks of both men and women, and light-weight jackets the standard issue.
The population, at least in the city center, is surprisingly young, mid-20s to early-40s.
Our initial needs met, we both crashed for a couple of hours.
After a refreshing shower, we dressed for the evening out. It was a 10-minute walk on rough brick and cobblestones, and across a quaint foot bridge to the Winding Stair restaurant. Mag (who performs as Dessa with the rap crew Doomtree) used smartphone navigation to get us there. Much needed given the twists and turns on streets and alleys that change name every other block.The street fairly throbbed with the energy on the street. Lots of people out on a weekday evening. Felt a bit like NYC, although I felt a bit of New Orleans in the mix – a definite upbeat vibe.
True to it’s name, the Winding Stair features a circuitous staircase from the first to second landing. The spot was suggested by Bill and Sharon Gunter, the conveners of Slow Food Dublin. It proved a good choice – local foods put to their best advantage in creative dishes. I washed mine down with a local hard cider. Yum.
I’ll review lots more of the Slow Food Dublin in an upcoming Deep Roots Radio show. Throughout this trip, I’m hoping to gain some understanding of how different countries feel and demonstrate the good-food-good-agriculture connections.

On to Wexford
This morning, I got to the Dublin Connolly rail station with 30 minutes to spare. Lots of time to grab a yogurt and watch the crowd surging through the turnstyles. Connolly Station is an intersection for commuter trains, rail travelers, bikes and buses.
DublinWexfordI love UK rail service: comfortable sitting, picture window views, smooth and quiet travel, and Internet service. (I’m having an awful time with both Internet and International cellular service so far, so I think I’ll bite my tongue on this for the moment.)
The rails from Dublin to Wexford hug Ireland’s eastern shore and so I was treated to spectacular views of waves crashing just yards from the road bed. And when I looked to the west it was to farm fields gradually sloping up to hills dark against a grey sky.
It’s a wet landscape of puddles, creeks, shallow wetlands (I could almost see the trout), and ponds. Wooded hedgrows marked field boundaries, and houses nested into hillsides.
A good trip.
Now, I’m sitting in a small coffee house in windy, raining Wexford. The forecast is more wet with lots of wind. Raincoats are ubiquitous. I picked one a slicker in Dublin.
I expect a call any second. It’ll be from William Considine, organic farmer/owner of the Nicharee farm in Duncormick, about 20 miles from Wexford.
It’s at this farm that my farming research begins. How are organic/sustainable farms in Ireland the same or different from those I’ve come to know in the U.S.? How are they the same?The adventure continues.
Sylvia