The Nebraska SARE Program and Nebraska Extension are sponsoring a tour on August 4th that focuses on local food production, sustainability and value-added ag enterprises. This tour will be an opportunity to learn more about local food production, sustainability and entrepreneurship in Nebraska. On this tour, you will have the opportunity to visit five entrepreneurial enterprises where you will see very diverse operations. The tour will depart from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus in an air conditioned coach bus at 7:30 a.m. on August 4th. Anyone is welcome to participate in this tour.
Our second stop of the tour will be Garden of Ellen’s, just a short distance north of Kimmel Orchard off of Highway 75. Ellen Shank and her husband Jim have both retired from long careers and undertook a second career of raising and marketing produce from high tunnels and the garden on their farm in 2011. The Shanks market at area farmers markets and from their farm.
We will then travel to Union Orchard. Union Orchard formerly was owned and operated by the University of Nebraska. There we will see how the Wostrel Family and orchard manager Vaughn Hammond are developing the orchard and transforming it into a destination for families to come and visit year round. Union Orchard has planted new crops and several acres of fruit trees, especially apple trees. Some of the crops they are growing include asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, apples, grapes and pumpkins. They also have a corn maze for the fall harvest season. Some of these crops are sold as a U-Pick business, while other produce is picked and sold fresh or made into a value-added products, like pies, donuts, jams and jellies or even wine. We plan on eating lunch at the orchard, although the menu has not been determined at this time. You can find out more about Union Orchard on my blog; https://saremansagnews.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/union-orchard/ or on their website: http://www.unionorchard.com/.
The final stop of the day will be Lakehouse Farm and Prairie Plate Restaurant near Waverly, Nebraska. Renee and Jerry Cornett have begun this farm a few years ago and opened a restaurant out on the farm. We will enjoy a cool drink and light snack there as well. The Cornetts grow much of their own produce for the restaurant in a high tunnel and outside garden and purchase local food from area farmers as well. Here is a link to their website; http://lakehousefarm.com/prairie-plate-restaurant/.
I am looking forward to the tour next week. Cost of the tour is $25 and includes, transportation, lunch and a late afternoon snack. Please register by either emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling my office at (402) 274-4755 by Monday, August 1st so we can make arrangements for the food and handouts. Please let me know if I need to get you a parking permit for your vehicle at the UNL East Campus.
In this blog post I am interviewing Andrew Hollister of Hollister Farms. Andrew and his family produce local food naturally on a farm in southern Lancaster County and market it through a number of methods, including a couple of local farmers markets. Follow along with this photo blog as we tour the farm.
This concludes the photo blog of Hollister Farm. I want to thank Andrew for his time and allowing me to interview him and also take photos of the farm. As you can see the Hollisters have a very diverse farming operation with many moving parts. It will be interesting to see how this farm develops over the years. In the mean time, be sure to look for Hollister Farms at the local farmers markets, on Facebook, on the Nebraska Food Coop or just stop by their farm near Princeton, NE. They are another source of local food in southeast Nebraska.
In my fourth blog post this year I am interviewing Clint Wostrel of Union Orchard. Clint’s family purchased Union Orchard and he is working under the mentorship of Vaughn Hammond. Clint took the Farm Beginnings class last year and is now learning about running the orchard. Following this interview we will have a photo blog of the orchard.
Andy Chisholm has traveled many miles since leaving England and moving to the United States. In the southeast US he met his wife Laura and they traveled to Nebraska. They started out wanting to produce food for their family and their dream was to start a dairy and creamery to make dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and ice cream. They have been at several locations in eastern Nebraska the past few years, but have finally found a home in southeastern Nebraska near Unadilla in Otoe County. Andy was a member of our second Farm Beginnings class in Syracuse, NE a few years ago.
Andy, Laura and their children have a small herd of Jersey cows which produce milk, high in butterfat which makes excellent dairy products.
Their farm and creamery are located northwest of Unadilla at 1875 D Rd, Unadilla, NE. While their main focus is the dairy, they also have some other food they raise and sell. This includes: asparagus, strawberries, eggs and pork. The Chisholms participate in the Old Market Farmers Market in Downtown Omaha and Ak-sar-ben Farmers Market regularly. They have also sold at the Village Point Farmers Market in Omaha and they are a member of the Nebraska Cheese Guild. While Laura participates in these farmers markets, the bulk of the dairy products produced at the creamery are sold to food coops, restaurants and stores. You can purchase dairy products on the Nebraska Food Coop, an on-line food coop, Open Harvest, a Food Coop at 1681 South St. in Lincoln, NE and at Daddy’s Neighborhood Fresh Market at 4811 NW Radial Hwy in Omaha, NE. Some of their dairy products are featured at area restaurants, including: M’s Pub, Dante’s and Block 16 in Omaha and The Lied Lodge in Nebraska City.
A major event that the Chisholms have hosted at their farm in the past couple of years is Milk Fest. This year it is scheduled for October 22nd and 23rd. This is a fun event for the whole family which has drawn several hundred people. There are a number of venders present, local food, music and drink, games for kids and several fun activities for anyone interested in supporting the local food community.
Here is a photo blog and tour of Chisholm Family Farm and Orchard Hill Creamery located at 1875 D Rd, Unadilla, NE.
This concludes our tour of the Chisholm Family Farm and Orchard Hill Creamery. The Chisholm’s are committed to producing local food, especially a variety of several different value-added dairy products. You can purchase their products at several different locations or you can come out to their farm near Unadilla. It is a very short drive from Lincoln and just a little farther from Omaha. For more information about their farm and/or creamery, go to http://www.chisholmfamilyfarm.com/ or http://www.orchardhillcreamery.com/. Stay tuned for next time when we visit another local food producer in Nebraska or a bordering state.
As Nebraska State SARE Coordinator, the use of cover crops is an important initiative that I am focused on. Cover crops have been used for a number of years particularly in organic cropping systems. They have been a source of nitrogen, organic matter and other nutrients when incorporated as green manures in these systems. Cover crops have also been planted as forage crops for livestock for grazing or hay for many years. In recent years there has been increased interest in the use of cover crops in conventional cropping systems. The USDA NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) has promoted cover crops and provided cost-share programs for farmers to encourage their use to help improve soil health and reduce erosion and degradation of soils.
Cover crops have many potential benefits. Legumes fix (N) nitrogen from the atmosphere which is a source of N for the subsequent crops. Biomass from the cover crops adds carbon and organic matter to the soil. A primary function of cover crops is prevention of erosion with their roots holding soil in place and reducing impact of rain drops by covering the soil. Other benefits include: improve water infiltration, scavenge nutrients, weed suppression and forage for livestock. A number of farmers across Nebraska and in other states have utilized cover crops for several years and are seeing benefits. The University of Nebraska has conducted research and is conducting research to evaluate how cover crops can best be utilized in crop and livestock systems in Nebraska. Nebraska Extension is also cooperating with farmers using cover crops to document impact on soil and subsequent crops.
In Nebraska there are also many questions and challenges with the incorporation of cover crops in cropping systems. Probably one of the primary questions and challenges is how to successfully plant and establish cover crops in a timely manner in corn/soybean crop rotations? Another challenge is developing a herbicide program that allows you to plant and graze cover crops successfully without impacting the previous cash crop of corn or soybeans. A final challenge is balancing the use of cover crops to reduce the impact on the previous and subsequent crops. These are questions currently being addressed by Nebraska Extension, other universities, agri-businesses and farmers across the Midwest.
I have just scratched the surface in regards to cover crops. I hope I have provided you with a glimpse of how some producers in Nebraska are using cover crops and some of the research and education that is taking place in Nebraska and in other states to determine how cover crops can best be utilized in agriculture today and in the future. There are a number of excellent resources where you can learn more about cover crops and soil health. Here are a few publications and links you may want to investigate.
This first post marks the launching of my new blog “Saremansagnews”. The first farm we are featuring is Gerdes Heritage Fowl. Dan Gerdes is owner and operator and lives near Johnson, NE in Nemaha County.
Dan has read the book “The Lean Farm” and believes the principles of recycling materials and cutting costs. He works with schools and talks about local food to students and others in the community. Dan is active in the community and donates eggs for the firemen for their fundraiser each year. You can find out about Dan’s farm on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/gerdesfowl