Category Archives: Processing

Two new reports : regional food transportation and climate

CIAS and USDA-AMS transportation division just released our report: Networking Across the Supply Chain  We are continuing this work, hoping to host a meeting next spring in Chicago for the logistics and transportation sector. If you are working on freight transportation and values-based food supply chains, I would love to hear your thinking on this.

I’ve also been working with the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters on a report we released last Friday: “Climate Forward: A new roadmap for Wisconsin’s climate and energy fuuture”  The Academy will continue its work on this area into 2015. We hope to link CIAS faculty, students, staff and our many community partners (that means YOU) to it through our work on perennializing agriculture.


Time to register – growing woody perennials

Time is short to make the registration deadline for this workshop – one that you won’t want to miss! Check out the draft agenda and handouts we are preparing for the event! Registration information here.

(ps: more than 60 people turned out for the aronia field day in Soldiers Grove at Star Valley — see previous post)


8:30-9:00 a.m.                  Welcome & introductions

9:00-9:45 a.m.                  Principles of ecological gardening

9:45-10:30 a.m.                split into 2 groups:

  1. Small group discussion/Functions worksheet: What are the functions you want fulfilled on your land? What are your land’s needs, yields, characteristics?
  2. Tour at Nature Nooks — motivation and philosophy, species selection for food production, wildlife buffer, riparian plantings, visual screens, ecotourism

10:30-10:45 a.m.              Break

10:45-11:30 a.m.              Small Group discussion /Tour at Nature Nooks

11:30-12 p.m.                    Lunch

12-12:30 p.m.                    Travel to Cullen and Micaela’s Long Arm Farm

12:30-2:30 p.m.                Tours at Long Arm Farm with 3 groups :

  1. philosophy, context & background, plant selection, how to plant different species (sheet mulching, etc.), plant selection for hedgerows, what is working well, markets
  2. animals, chicken tractor and rotations, plants for fodder, cheese cave, markets
  3. plant varieties, plant selection, propagation, what to grow along riparian zones & edges, sun/shade, guilds, juglones tolerant plants

2:30-3:00 p.m.                  Travel to Mike Breckel’s Hawkstone Vineyard

3:00-4:15 p.m.                  Tour at Hawkstone Vineyard – motivation and philosophy, elderberry production, processing and markets

4:15-5:00                            Elderberry tasting (tentative), Wrap Up



  • Definition of Terms – perennialization, forest garden, agroforestry, permaculture, organic/gardening/farming, sustainability, resiliency, food security
  • Functions worksheet– what are your goals (hobby farm, supplemental food or income, primary income, etc.), what things do you need to consider on your land? What functions do you want fulfilled?, Do you have specific goals? Land use plan? Biz plans? Markets in mind? Philosophy about land?
  • Observations & Basic Principles worksheet —  aspect, sun/shade, slope, water, soils, cycling, stacking functions, interrelationships, relative location, species selection (needs, yields, characteristics), guilds, animals
  • Plant Lists – fruit and nut varieties, native plant lists from the UW Arboretum, permaculture guilds
  • Plant Nurseries
  • Participant List

To register, use using
the form available on the CIAS website at and send with payment to Michelle Miller at UW-Madison CIAS, Attn: Growing Woody Perennials in the Kickapoo Region, Ag Bulletin Building, 1535 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706. Contact Michelle with registration questions at or 608-262-7135. For workshop questions, contact Marian
Farrior:, 608-265-5214.

Register now – Marketing the Native Understory

Marketing the Native Understory: Selling Driftless Hazelnuts, Aronia and Mushrooms Direct to Chefs

June 27, 2013, Viroqua / Viola, Wisconsin


Hosted by: Rooted Spoon Culinary, Viroqua, WI and New Forest Farm, Viola, WI in collaboration with the Hazelnut Development Initiative, the Midwest Aronia Growers Association, and the UW Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems.

Hazelnuts and aronia are newly emerging, cultivated woody perennial crops in the Upper Midwest, and wild mushrooms are part of a long tradition of foraging in this region. These “forest products” can help chefs create locally-sourced signature dishes, and can help landowners supplement and diversify their income.

Selling direct to chefs may be an important way for growers and foragers to get their products to market,  invigorate production and develop the necessary processing infrastructure. One of the main barriers to chefs purchasing local products is a lack of information about crop attributes or availability. With this in mind, the UW-CIAS  is working with local partners to connect chefs and growers from around the Driftless Region at this event. Throughout the day, growers and chefs will have opportunities to develop contacts with potential buyers and suppliers.

Two panel discussions will address the marketing of these crops. Chefs will speak to their experience working with forest products from local growers. Hazelnut and aronia growers, and a mushroom forager, will share their experience marketing to local restaurants.

After a lunch at Rooted Spoon Culinary highlighting some of these forest products, the venue will shift to New Forest Farm in Viola, WI (about a half-hour drive). Here, attendees will tour the largest hazelnut planting in Wisconsin situated within this perennial permaculture farm. Check back for updates on the agenda and participating organizations.

The registration fee for this event is $10. Space is limited to the first 80 people to register. Visit our web page, where we will post agenda updates and participating organizations. Or, if you are ready, you can  register on-line.

Specialty Pork forum – update

August 2012, CIAS convened a meeting of people passionate about specialty pork. Specialty-finished, heritage breed pork is much-sought-after, especially by restauranteurs interested in an authentic, innovative and sustainable menu item. Heirloom breeds, unique finishes, and artisanal processing are coming together to give consumers a taste of regional flavor. In the Upper Midwest prok finished with hazelnuts, chestnuts, acorns, and apples provide that regional flavor. This one-day forum, co-hosted by Rooted Spoon Kitchen Table,  brought together farmers, processors, restaurants and vendors to discuss regional pork. They shared their expertise and experiences, and discussed next steps toward developing a regional supply chain for local pork.

More than 30 stakeholders from around southern Wisconsin gathered in Viroqua for a forum on the region’s nascent specialty pork sector. Some pasture-based hog farmers have begun finishing their animals with specialty products to alter the flavor and distinguish their products to consumers. CIAS recognized that this could be a new niche for small- and medium-scale pasture-based operations in the state, and so we convened a forum to discuss its potential. We posed the question of whether a marketing program akin to “Wisconsin Specialty Pork” could serve participants along the pastured pork value chain. With farmers, processors, vendors, and representatives from CIAS in the room, the group held a lively one-day discussion on issues facing the growth of a specialty pork economy.

We first heard from growers Jeannie Herold (Hazel Valley Farm) and Mark Osterberg (Hawk’s Cry Farm) on the value they’ve found in hazelnut-finished hogs. Both Herold and Osterberg began their operations with hazelnuts before incorporating hogs. Without the necessary industrial facilities available, they have found that pigs are the next-best way to process their hazelnut crop. Herold sells her pork directly to consumers, and she reports that her customers appreciate the rich flavor the meat takes from the nuts.

Next Christopher Pax (Black Earth Meats), Scott Buer (Bolzano Artisan Meats), and Tim Blokhuis (Pete’s Meats) presented on the state of specialty pork from the processor’s perspective. During a break, Caitlin Henning (MSc candidate in Agroecology) discussed her fieldwork on denominations of origin for specialty pork in Spain and how lessons from that country could help farmers and vendors in Wisconsin market specialty pork as a terroir product.

For the final panel discussion, Jeremy Johnson (Willy Street Grocery Cooperative), Nik Novak (Together Farms), and Talish Barrow (Graze Restaurant) talked with the group about marketing challenges and opportunities for specialty-finished pork. While the panelists haven’t yet observed consumer demand for specialty finishing, their businesses have responded to consumer interest in local and pasture-raised pork. Barrow proposed that specialty finishing could be another niche for farmers and vendors with the right amount of consumer education.

Most farmers attending the event were curious about whether specialty finishing could work for their operations. Surveys completed during the event indicate that there is interest in both specialty finishing and product aggregation to take advantage of larger markets and niche consumers.

Another note – if you are on FaceBook, check out the Black Pork site. Lovely photos!

black pork

Meeting participants:

Last Name First Name Affiliation/Organization
Armbrust Matt Organic Processing Institute
Barrow Talish Graze Restaurant
Bernardoni Bob Roller Coaster Farm
Blokhuis Tim Pete’s Meats
Buer Scott Bolzano Artisan Meats
Doherty Charlotte Roller Coaster Farm
Fabos Steve April’s Garden
Fox Dan Fox Heritage Foods
Fox Art Fox Heritage Foods
Goetzman Sandra Fair Wind Farm
Goetzman Tom Fair Wind Farm
Henning Caitlin UW-Agroecology
Herold Jeannie Hazel Valley Farm
Hoch Harry Hoch Orchard and Gardens
Holmstrom Deanne Holmstrom’s Grassy Acres
Holstrom Jamie Holmstrom’s Grassy Acres
Hunter Jonny Underground Food Collective
Johnson Jeremy WSGC
Johnstone-Buer Christin Bolzano Artisan Meats
Keeley Keefe UW-Agroecology
Mabe Nick Hoch Orchard and Gardens
McCann Nick Iowa State Univerisity
Moths Jessi CIAS
Novak Nik Together Farms
Osterhaus Max Hawks Cry
Osterhaus Mark Hawk’s Cry Farm
Pax Christopher Black Earth Meats
Prusia April April’s Garden
Schneider Stephanie Together Farms
Schriefer Gene Iowa County UWEX
Solberg Dan prospective farmer
Toepper Lorin Madison College
Williams Brady CIAS
Wong Kristina Hawks Cry
Wright Carla Organic Processing Institute

Networking Across the Supply Chain – LaCrosse 2/20-21/2013

100 regional food supply chain entrepreneurs are gathering in LaCrosse this week to shape a public R&D agenda for getting local food to market in a way that is economically viable, socially just and environmentally sound.

Visit this link to see the agenda, speaker bios and a list of organizations attending.

Can’t join us? A proceedings will be published later this year.


4th Annual Upper Midwest Hazelnut Growers Conference

March 1-2, Eau Claire

Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin hazelnut growers plan to convene this spring to share information on growing, processing and selling hazelnuts. Researchers from Ontario, New Jersey, Minnesota and Wisconsin will share their work on propogating commercial nuts from hybrid and native hazelnut stock, and various ways growers are marketing their crops.

For more information and to register, go to:




The Equitable Food Initiative

Please share widely with your friends and colleagues!

The Equitable Food Initiative is hiring a Senior Advisor to engage major actors in the food industry to join the EFI.

The Equitable Food Initiative ( is a consortium of major food buyers, growers, farm worker groups and consumer advocates to ensure dignified livelihoods for farm workers; a trained workforce and safer, more sustainable food. The co-chairs of the coalition are Oxfam America and the United Farm Workers of America.

The position will engage major actors in the food industry, other organizations and the public with the goal of strengthening the EFI program as well as providing steering for the design of field-based training, certification and verification.

The position will be based on the West Coast. To apply, see Positions at Oxfam America.

Peter O’Driscoll
Project Director
EquiTABLE Food Initiative

202-777-2933 (desk)
617-407-8171 (cell)


Setting A Yield Goal for Hazelnut Breeding in the Upper Midwest

UW Extension recently released a new report “Setting A Yield Goal for Hazelnut Breeding in the Upper Midwest”. This report summarizes some of the work-to-date on an ambitious project to improve hazelnut germplasm, develop appropriate-scale nut processing equipment, and develop sustainable business models to support commercial hazelnut production in the Upper Midwest. University of Minnesota is the project lead, with partners at UW Extension, UW Stevens Point, UW-Madison Department of Horticulture and CIAS. The project is part of The Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative, a collaboration of researchers in Wisconsin and Minnesota working with early-adopter hazelnut growers to develop an Upper Midwest hazelnut industry.

Hazelnuts are native to the Driftless region, with considerable potential as a perennial, high-value, drought-tolerant, permaculture-friendly crop. Keep your eye on this project and tell us your interests and concerns with hazelnuts.

A Feasibility Template for Small, Multi-Species Meat Processing Plants

The Journal Of Extension has just published an article entitled A Feasibility Template for Small, Multi-Species Meat Processing Plants. The Kerr Center at Oklahoma State created a template to allow entrepreneurs to play out “what if” scenarios in developing a meat processing business for value-added meat products. The template allows users to define plant size and capacity, including the breakdown of processing activities by species and additional revenue opportunities.

“The spreadsheet template is designed to assist livestock producers and food business entrepreneurs who may be interested in owning or operating a meat processing plant. Most do not understand the factors that impact plant operations and ownership, nor do they have the skills or experience to make sound financial decisions for a plant. Plant owners must consider the impacts of balancing a variety of potential business activities under one roof: custom packing for multiple species (cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, bison, etc.), handling wild game (e.g., deer, elk and wild hogs), and possibly operating a retail shop.”

The article also suggests further reading on meat processing for entrepreneurs.