Category: Viroqua Food Co-op

P6 Month Wrap-up

August 2014 was a great P6 month! At a national level, we hosted our #p6coops twitter conversation. We were really excited to hear about the great things our member co-ops have accomplished. Here’s some accomplishments at some of our co-ops:

Seward Community Co-op: Seward hosted a kickoff on August 2nd. Staff sampled P6 products including Equal Exchange chocolate and tea, Maple Valley maple lemonade, Ferndale poultry, and Kickapoo Coffee. There was a raffle to win a P6 goodie basket at the front of the store. The store’s photographer happened to catch a picture of the winner, Nancy Reeck:

_1040661

 

Seward set some high internal goals for raising P6 sales during P6 month. Regularly, P6 sales are around 37% of store sales. During P6 month, Seward set a goal of exceeding 45% P6 sales and actually hit 46.46%. Congrats, Seward! That’s a whole lot of money getting sent to small, local, and cooperative producers.

Viroqua Food Co-op: VFC hosted a P6 Square Dance and Grill Out on August 22nd. They served Wisco Pop! and food from a variety of P6 producers. Local musicians the Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers played so everyone could dance:

Usually at VFC, there will be two or even three P6 producers offering samples in the store. During P6 month, 15 different P6 producers came into the store to sample their products and talk with customers.

Eastside Food Co-op: Eastside brought in folks from Kadejan on August 30. The Kadejan farmers talked about their new GMO-free chicken feed mill, which fills a gap in the market to allow people who want to grow GMO-free chickens to do so.

 

 

The Perennial Plate at Thousand Hills Cattle Company

As we gear up for Perennial Plate’s video about P6, we’re highlighting some older Perennial Plate videos about P6 producers. Here’s one about Thousand Hills Cattle Company, a grass-fed beef producer in northern Minnesota. Thousand Hills beef is available and labeled P6 at Viroqua Food Co-op, Eastside Food Co-op, and Seward Community Co-op.  This video is an interview with founder Todd Churchill about his philosophy on raising cattle in a healthy, humane way.

 

Organic Produce from Harmony Valley Farm

A version of this post by farm co-owner Andrea Yoder first appeared on Viroqua Food Co-op’s website.

Harmony Valley webHarmony Valley Farm (HVF) is located just outside of Viroqua, Wisconsin in Newton Valley. HVF was founded by Richard de Wilde who has over 40 years of experience growing certified organic vegetables. Richard started farming organic vegetables in Eagan, Minnesota at a time when the University and Extension Services told him it couldn’t be done. He went on to prove them wrong and today HVF grows over 150 certified organic vegetable varieties on 100-120 acres!

HVF places great value on soil fertility and plant nutrition. Richard has developed a system of cover cropping and applications of compost and minerals to promote healthy, mineral balanced soils which results in vegetables with exceptional flavor, color and nutrition. They also plant and maintain year round habitat that provides a place for songbirds, bats, bees and beneficial insects to take up residence and become allies in pest control.

HVF has been supplying vegetables to the Viroqua Food Co-op since the very early days of both the farm and the Co-op! Richard remembers delivering orders to the original food Co-op building that existed before the current location. As an integral part of the community, Harmony Valley Farm has been working with restaurants, food co-ops and their CSA membership for years to promote a local, seasonal diet. HVF products are now available in a number of P6 co-ops. Long before the word “Locavore” was ever used, HVF was exploring ways to extend the season of availability for vegetables in order to feed Midwesterners through the long winter.

Over the years HVF has become known for supplying a variety of root crops well into the winter including parsnips, turnips, beets, rutabagas, celeriac, sunchokes, burdock and winter radishes. During the summer months, HVF stocks our shelves with their salad greens, spinach, arugula, & baby kale, as well as cilantro, parsley, dill, dandelion & mustard greens, radishes and baby bok choy.

Richard de Wilde will be the first to tell you that it takes many hands to raise vegetables and he couldn’t do it alone. Co-owner, Andrea Yoder has been with HVF for eight years. She enjoys managing greenhouse production, packing shed operations, and her weekly communication with buyers, including Linda & Arwyn at the VFC. HVF has many long-time employees that continue to learn new skills and take on new responsibilities. Everyone at HVF works together to uphold a reputation for producing tasty, nutritious and beautiful vegetables.

Despite a cold, wet start to the season, the HVF fields are filling up and it won’t be long before we start to receive the bounty of the summer. Over the years, Andrea has learned more about some of the crops our customers enjoy. One of our favorite times of the season is when the melons start rolling in. Andrea assures us there will be delicious French orange melons, seedless watermelons and possibly even a taste of a new Japanese green cantaloupe this summer.

Harmony Valley Farm products are available and labeled P6 at Viroqua Food Co-op, Eastside Food Co-op, Willy Street Co-op, and Seward Community Co-op. You can learn more at their website.

Kickapoo Honey: Hyperlocal Honey

This post by Bjorn Bergman originally appeared on Viroqua Food Co-op’s website. Because Kickapoo Honey is only available at VFC and no other P6 co-ops, we have preserved their perspective in this post. 

VFC has a long standing partnership with Kickapoo Honey. We began purchasing and selling their honey in 2001 and they are now our primary honey supplier. As spring brings warmer weather and plenty of flowers, we thought it was a natural choice to share the story of who is behind sweet and local Kickapoo Honey.

Kickapoo Honey is owned and run by Tim McDonald and Diane Roy. This husband and wife team began their foray in beekeeping about 20 years ago near Portage, Wisconsin. At that time, Tim had a close friend who was an avid bee keeper. On a serendipitous day, Tim’s friend talked him into keeping a bee colony at his home. From that time, Tim’s love of bees took off. As the years passed by, one colony grew to two, and two colonies grew to 40. For the last 15 years, Tim has worked full time beekeeping and running Kickapoo Honey and his partner, Diane, who has a full time job off the farm, spends her spare time and vacation time helping with their operation. Now they keep around 250 honey producing colonies and around 150 nucleus or replacement colonies of bees. Their bee colonies are located from Richland Center to Prairie du Chien, in orchards and on private land owned by many of their generous friends. All their colonies are located within a 75 mile driving loop of their farm outside of Blue River, Wisconsin.

beehives kickapoo honeyIn an average year, Kickapoo Honey produces between 30-40 fifty-five gallon drums of honey, which is about 19,500-26,000 pounds! Tim and Diane package, market, and distribute their honey to food stores from Madison, Wisconsin to La Crescent, Minnesota. They feel honored to produce local and clean honey for folks in their community.

Next time you visit the VFC, pick up some Kickapoo Honey from the bulk section or our honey section in aisle #2. When you purchase Kickapoo Honey, you can be assured that your purchase supports a wonderful local small family business.

Kickapoo Honey is part of the P6 program at the VFC because:

Local: Kickapoo Honey is located 21.7 miles from the VFC outside of Blue River, Wisconsin.

Small Producer: Kickapoo Honey is owned and operated by Tim McDonald and Diane Roy. They deliver their honey directly to VFC.

Four Elements Organic Herbals

A version of this post by Charlene Elderkind appeared on Viroqua Food Co-op’s website.

Four Elements Organic Herbals is located on Jane Hawley Stevens and David Stevens’ 130-acre farm, set in the pristine Baraboo Bluffs of Wisconsin. The farm is surrounded by 9,000 acres protected by the Nature Conservancy—an international, environmental conservation NPO. Certified organic since 1990, she grows diverse species from which plants are carefully selected to produce herbal products from the fields, prairies and woodlands of the farm.

Located just one-hour northwest of Madison, freshly harvested herbs are handpicked at peak potency and processed on the farm to insure nature’s constituents are truly represented in every product. The herbs are hand-processed to create a line of herbal products including teas, moisture creams, facial hydrosols, lip balms, soaps, bath salts, body oils and tinctures. The balanced formulas are intended to increase your beauty and wellbeing. And the energetic preparations will fortify your trust in nature.

Four Elements Herbals began in 1987 as the pursuit of Jane’s dream to establish a family farm and continue her horticultural career while raising a family. After completing a B.S. in horticulture, she began specializing in growing a diverse variety of herbs. She and her husband David began supplying stores with organically grown DSC_0100potted herbs and developed an extensive herb collection. Herbs became a way of life, from cooking and crafts to body care and healing. It is from tried-and-true experience that Four Elements products were created.

In 2012, the USDA awarded Four Elements a $300,000 grant to process its herbal teas into tea-bag form. The funds have allowed the business to grow more herbs for teas, hire help to process and promote the products, and potentially move manufacturing operations to the center of town. Four Elements Products are labeled P6 at Viroqua Food Co-op, Seward Community Co-op, Willy Street Co-op, and Eastside Food Co-op.