New farmers without access to family land and farmers new to the USA or to farming in a northern climate are just the folks to benefit from the Farm Incubator at the Farley Center for Peace, Justice and Sustainability in Verona, Wisc.
The incubator provides farmers certified organic land, farming equipment, infrastructure, marketing and technical assistance. Fifteen farmers are participating in the incubator via 12 farm businesses, according to Sheamus Johnson, the incubator’s coordinator.
To learn more about the Farley Center, come out for their Feast from the Fields event on Sunday, July 24. The center will also be a stop on the popular Bike the Barns bicycle tour coordinated by FairShare CSA Coalition in September.
For the farmers we spoke with in this week’s podcast, Yee Ythao of Yee Circle Farm and David Bachhuber of Love Food LLC, farming in community is one of the most valuable aspects of the incubator. The camaraderie, extra hands, expertise, and even moral support are so helpful to a new farmer.
Bachhuber started growing 35 perennial culinary herbs this year, and sells his produce via a CSA, the Hilldale Farmers’ Market, and wholesale to restaurants. When he isn’t farming, he works part-time as a project manager for the Center for Healthy Minds at UW Madison’s Weissman Center. (He and his wife are searching for farmland to purchase near Madison; if you have any leads, please contact him via his farm’s Facebook page.)
Ythao says the “circle” in her farm’s name refers to the circle of family support that allows her to farm, including her mom, Der Vang, sister, Song Thao, and son, Pon Yang, 19 (pictured in the photo gallery above). Ythao has worked as a nursing assistant at St. Mary’s Hospital for the past 16 years. That work pays her bills, but farming is her passion, and she absolutely loves being out in the fields.
She sells her produce via a CSA, farmers’ market, and the Spring Rose Growers Co-op, made up of several Farley Center farms. She said everyone at the incubator has their specialties and working together, they can play to each other’s strengths. On Saturday, she had just picked 80 bunches of cilantro for a restaurant owned by fellow incubator farmer Juan Gonzales of Los Jalapenos CSA.
Ythao prides herself on her weeding. Her soil is so “clean,” she direct seeds many crops such as cilantro and basil, rather than using transplants. She said every farmer at the incubator has his or her specialities.
For her, farming is a healthy way of life. When she gets home after working a 12-hour shift at the hospital, her mind is spinning and her body is not tired. It is hard for her to fall asleep. But after a day of farming, she falls asleep as soon as her head hits her pillow.
For more information about the Farley Center’s Farm Incubator, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Podcast Credits: Production by Molly Stentz and Julie Garrett, theme music performed by Cathryn Herlihey, logo by Katie Hess, reporting and photos by Julie Garrett