From City Pages, March 19-26, 2015 Issue
The land that Whitefeather Organics now occupies didn’t have a single building on it when Tony Miller and his wife, Laura, started their farm in 2006. The young couple lived in a white canvas tee-pee pitched on the land about 5 miles east of Stevens Point, working at various half-time jobs while spending the rest of their hours prepping soil, planting and harvesting vegetables.
It’s now a success by farming standards. Neither Miller nor his wife need to work those outside jobs anymore. The couple recently bought a new greenhouse where they start plants destined for their tree-lined fields. They’ve added several buildings, including a house so they can finally call the farm home without essentially camping on the land.
The Miller’s story is starting to become a more common one. While the number of conventional farms continues to decrease in the state, Wisconsin is seeing more and more new organic farms. These operations tend to find new ways to engage their customers and bring in business. There seems to be no end in sight to the increase of organic or naturally-raised food sales; the demand is there and new farmers every year are jumping in to meet that demand. …
Wisconsin has about 12,000 dairy farms, but each year about 500 close down for various reasons, a big on being that the younger generation just isn’t taking over these businesses.
One Wisconsin program is hoping to grow the numbers of young dairy farmers, organic or otherwise. The Wisconsin Dairy Grazing apprenticeship, established in 2010, trains new recruits up to a master’s degree through a combination of university classroom work and real experience on as many as 28 dairy farms throughout the state. The program has 12 apprentices now, with 60 awaiting placement, according to the program’s website. Four people have completed the program and are full-journey dairy grazers.
Read the full article in the March 19-26, 2015 issue. Learn more on the website.