Category: Small Business Week

Small Business Week P6 Profile: Aprainores Co-op

This post draws on materials from Equal Exchange’s Phyllis Robinson. P6 will be posting producer profiles every day this week in honor of Small Business Week.

Tomorrow is World Fair Trade Day, so we wanted to highlight an international small business being supported by fair trade policies.

Aprainores farmersP6 founding member Equal Exchange launched the Grow Together program in 2014 to support Aprainores Co-op, a cooperative of small cashew farmers in El Salvador. Six participating retail co-ops, including P6 members Seward Co-op and Eastside Co-op, are matching Equal Exchange’s commitment to donate $0.50 per pound of cashews sold to support Aprainores. That $1 per pound is adding up! In 2014, the project raised $22,000 for the cooperative. This seed money allows the cooperative to make small loans to its members to support their growth.

Aprainores FarmersThis year, Aprainores was able to incorporate 15 new members from a surrounding area.  We visited the group (they were part of another coop but decided to join Aprainores instead as their fair trade status and relationship with us creates better opportunities) along with the local mayor who was particularly excited about this relationship.  They also were busy planting new cashew trees in anticipation of their “new found market” in the U.S.

Equal Exchange’s work is a great example of how we can support small businesses in other countries. The relationship-building and direct support that they offer is crucial to helping small businesses international to survive.


Small Business Week P6 Profile: C&L Organic Fertilizer

This post by Viroqua Food Co-op’s Bjorn Bergman was originally published on their website. P6 will be posting producer profiles every day this week in honor of Small Business Week.


Chuck and Linda Connelly were interested in starting a new business. cnl-fertilizerThey recognized the growth of organic agriculture in our region and were wondering if a new business venture could compliment that movement. Chuck first learned about worm castings online and decided to investigate the viability of starting a worm casting production business.

About a year and a half ago, he and Linda started C&L Organic Fertilizer. At that time, they were experimenting doing worm casting production in 3 gallon buckets and it was a lot of work. In the spring of 2014, their operation moved to 107 Eagle Drive, Cashton, WI, so that they could be closer to other organic agriculture businesses in the area and have more space to increase production.

Today, they operate an impressive worm casting production system. They’ve sized up their worm casting production methods and are now using large bins instead of buckets. To each bin, they add peat moss from Wisconsin Rapids, organic feed from Cashton Farm Supply, and about 7,000 African Night Crawlers, which is about 20 lbs of worms. These worms, which are much larger than typical red wriggler composting worms, have a voracious appetite (they can eat 1½ times their body weight a day) and can eat through the entire bin of moss and feed in about two weeks.

Once the worms have eaten all the food and turned it into castings, the mixture is sent through a machine that separates the finished worm castings, worms, and the refuse (things the worms aren’t able to digest). Finished castings are ready to use as a 100% organic fertilizer and the refuse is used as garden bedding or mixed in with potting soil. The worms are added to a new composting bin with new moss and feed and the process starts again. The Connelly’s hope to continue growing their worm population to about 1 million worms, which would allow them to produce about 4,000 lbs of worm castings a week.

Viroqua Food Co-op carries three sizes of bagged, locally produced worm castings from C&L. Learn more about C&L Organic Fertilizer online at or find them on Facebook.

Benefits of using worm castings:

  • Safe and ordorless; non-toxic to children, pets, and wildlife!
  • Long term and sustainable solution to feeding and lawns: castings help build the health of the soil.
  • Insect Control: several microorganisms found in worm castings work as effective repellents for a large number of insects.
  • Fungus and Disease Control: microbial life in castings eat destructive fungi and produce beneficial fungi.
  • Water Retention: castings do a great job retaining moisture, making lawns and plants less resistant to drought – saving on irrigation.
  • Dry castings can be applied anytime or temperature, without worrying about “burning” the plants.
  • Castings build healthy soil and repair damaged soils.

Small Business Week Producer Profile: Local Greens At Ozark Natural Foods

This post by Ozark Natural Foods’ Leighanna was originally published on their website. P6 will be posting producer profiles every day this week in honor of Small Business Week.

Ozark Natural foods has some amazing local greens! It’s the perfect time for spinach, arugula, chard, green kale, and much more! Help support the local economy by using only the best local organic produce. Keep reading for specific sales and more info!


Featured Recipe: Baked Parmesan Zucchini

4 zucchini, quartered lengthwise                                              ½ tsp dried basil

½ cup grated Parmesan                                                             ¼ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp dried thyme                                                                       2 tbsp parsley

½ tsp dried oregano                                                                    2 tbsp olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste                                      salt, to taste

– Combine Parmesan and seasonings

– Drizzle zucchini with olive oil and toss with herb and cheese mixture. Bake on nonstick coated cooling rack in preheated oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Broil an additional 2 minutes until crispy.

Adapted from:

Local Spring Greens

Hi everyone! Right now we are enjoying a flush of delicious, sweet, baby spring greens from several of our local farms. We have spinach, arugula, chard, green kale, and some intermittent spring mix. These produce items are coming to us from Dripping Springs Garden, Ozark Alternatives, Foundation Farm, Funny Farm, and Sycamore Bend Farm. Since these items are local the appearance of these products may be different then what you are used to seeing out of local season and from out of state. For example: we have two different sets of baby spring mix that we have been receiving and both have completely different varieties mixed in and were harvested at different stages of growth. These items are also being brought to you a little differently. The biggest difference is the packaged salads.

salad pic

Typically in our produce department you are used to seeing the 5oz or 1lb Taylor & Organic Girl Salads. These mixes are delivered in clamshell containers while the majority of our local produce is not. To help keep things the same though and enable our local farmers to bring you the local baby greens mixed, washed and dried, they are brought in clear bags with equivalent weights. We have 5oz bags of spinach and kale, along with ½ bags of spring mix and kale. Despite the packaging differences, we wanted you to know that you are getting the same type of product—just much fresher!

And if you are looking at some other fresh produce to compliment the local greens selection we now have fresh, local cilantro, parsley, shitake mushrooms, green onions, and chard! Thanks also to Sweden Creek Farm, Rocky Comfort Natural Farm, and Marty’s Produce!


Small Business Week Producer Profile: Good Life Farms

This post by Bloomingfoods’ Isaac Smith was originally published on their website. P6 will be posting producer profiles every day this week in honor of Small Business Week.

For Darin Kelly, Good Life Farms is a dream realized from years of having his hands in the dirt.

From the time he was five years old, Darin has always loved growing things. One of his earliest memories of gardening is planting maple keys and growing trees in a plot that his parents set aside for him. As an adult, Darin says everywhere he has lived he has turned every bit of soil into garden space. However, the leap from hobbyist to farmer took some time. It was almost by chance that he and his wife Deb fell into farming.

“About seven years ago we set up our first little roadside stand because we had some excess vegetables… We ended up selling $100 of vegetables in an afternoon on a Sunday,” says Darin. After the surprise success of their roadside stand, he says they began to recognize that they could potentially turn this idea into something bigger, and, nearly a decade later, they have.

“We all of the sudden figured out maybe we could make money doing our favorite hobby,” he says. Darin started renting plots for vegetables all over southern Indiana, pieces here and there from whoever had space. After operating this way for a year and a half Darin decided to look into hydroponic growing, a system that is soilless and uses long rows of tubing to house plants, providing nutrients by constantly running mineral-rich water over the tips of each plant’s roots.

After doing some research, Darin and Deb purchased 100 used channels from Amhydro Commercial Hydroponics and set up their first greenhouse in Eminence, Indiana.

The system is incredibly sustainable. While at first it may seem that constantly running water to irrigate plants would dramatically increase water use, Darin says that hydroponic systems save water.

“It actually uses about 1/5 or 1/6 of the water that you use in the field,” Darin says. This is in part due to the fact that the channels themselves are mostly closed, preventing evaporation. He says there is also the added benefit of preserving the soil around them.

“We don’t turn over one bit of soil. We don’t have any runoff of any kind. There’s nothing being leeched into the creeks around us,” he explains.

On top of all of this, the yields are also great. In 3,000 square feet of greenhouse and 325 channels, Good Life Farms produces an average of 67,600 heads of lettuce annually.

It’s a lot of hard work. Like most farmers, Darin and Deb don’t get days off or take long trips. They are tied to their greenhouse, but they don’t seem to mind.

“It’s a social event for us. The customers we deal with every week? That’s our social outing,” Darin says. Deb agrees: “It makes you feel good when you are doing stuff like this and then you go out and see your customers and they are so thankful for it.”