This week, we visit farmers Dennis Fiser and Anne Drehfal in Jefferson, Wisc. The two started their farm, Regenerative Roots, in 2012–the infamous ‘drought year.’
Five seasons later, Dennis and Anne and their farm are thriving, thanks to their unique small-is-beautiful model. Their farm is intentionally small scale (just 2 acres!), they work closely with nature, and they do most of their field work by hand. This savvy couple enjoy a comfortable work-life balance as they steward their beautiful farmland.
Sixty percent of their business is with Willy Street Co-op in Madison. They also operate a 37-member CSA for people in the Jefferson, Fort Atkinson, and Whitewater areas–“we think it’s important to sell local, organic produce where we live,” explains Anne–and they vend at the Ft. Atkinson farmers’ market. They are growing more than 60 varieties of tomatoes this season; heirlooms are their specialty.
Regenerative Roots has been certified organic from year one, and is part a farming cooperative that includes a permaculture berry and nut orchard, The Coney Garth (pastured meat rabbits), and Rocky Knoll Ranch (pastured sheep). They are talking with several people interested in starting additional sustainable farm businesses as part of their farming cooperative. (Listen to their extended interview for details.)
White and red clover “living aisles” between their crops cool the soil in summer, prevent soil erosion, and feed pollinators–not to mention, it makes for a beautiful farmscape.
“Farming close to nature rather than fighting nature makes everything easier,” says Anne.
Meet Your Veggies: Zucchini
Anyone who’s ever grown zucchini will agree: this vegetable grows so fast that if you take the time to watch you can see the vines creep, the large leaves expand, the blossoms open, and the fruit getting bigger!
Zucchini is a summer squash and is available from approximately mid- to late-summer. It does not tolerate cold and will end its season by the first frost or before if temperatures are frequently cool. Unlike their winter squash relations, zucchini and other summer squashes are not known for their storability, but instead are a seasonal treat associated with the bounty of summer.
Like all squashes, zucchini is descended from native species originating in South America (though it’s believed to have been developed in Italy). Zucchini has been popularized throughout North America, most likely by Italian immigrants, their descendants, and their famous cuisine.
Cooking and Storage Tips:
- Simply rinse off zucchini–no need to peel.
- Zucchini is very versatile. Try it raw, broiled, steamed, fried, grilled, sautéed or stir-fried.
- Refrigerate zucchini in hydrator drawer for up to 3-4 days.
- For longer-term storage, freeze zucchini puree in airtight containers for use in winter soups, and grated zucchini for use in breads and muffins.
~ from “Asparagus to Zucchini,” a seasonal cookbook by FairShare CSA Coalition
Visit Regenerative Roots’ recipe collection!
The following recipes are from Edible Madison:
Credits: Production by Molly Stentz and Julie Garrett, theme music performed by Cathryn Herlihey, logo by Katie Hess, reporting and photos by Julie Garrett.