Viroqua Food Co+op Blog
B&E’s Trees is a local certified organic maple syrup producer located outside Cashton, WI, and co-owned by Bree (B) Breckel and Eric (E) Weninger. They are best know for their delicious, certified organic Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup, which is made in collaboration with Central Waters Brewing Company of Amherst, WI. The brewery sources freshly used bourbon barrels, which B&E’s repurposes to age certified organic maple syrup at the Food Enterprise Center in Viroqua. When their syrup is mature, they return the maple-soaked barrels to Central Waters to age their limited release Maple Barrel Stout. Demand for both the maple syrup and the beer have far exceeded production.
B&E’s received a $3,500 one year no-interest microloan from VFC to turn a space at the Food Enterprise Center into a maple syrup aging rickhouse. A rickhouse is a traditional facility where whiskey is aged in barrels, taking on the smoky, vanilla flavors naturally found in charred white oak barrels. This project allows them to increase their maple syrup aging capacity, which allows them to more closely meet the demands for their delicious maple syrup. Learn more about their ongoing projects at: www.bandestrees.com Read More
Tags: Microloan Recipient
The recipient of the 2017 P6 Microloan is Deep Rooted, a local P6 farm! Owners Tiffany Cade and Jimmy Fackert operate a certified organic greenhouse outside of Westby. Deep Rooted is our primary supplier of local certified organic tomatoes May-October each year. In 2016, we purchased $18,775 of produce from them.Read More
The Viroqua Food Co-op P6 Microlending Committee excited to announce that Deep Rooted is the second recipient of a 2015 VFC P6 Microloan. The VFC P6 Microlending Committee is excited to fulfill their request of $1,250 for their project to compare growing mediums for organic tomato production in their greenhouses.
Deep Rooted is a greenhouse and farming business owned and operated by Tiffany Cade and Jimmy Fackert (pictured with VFC Outreach Coordinator Bjorn Bergman) outside of Westby, Wisconsin. They are a second-generation farm that supplies the Driftless region and Viroqua Food Co-op with organically grown annual and perennial flowers, certified organic seedlings and certified organic tomatoes in the early and late season.
With help from the loan, Deep Rooted plans to conduct a trial comparison of three different growing mediums in their tomato greenhouses. In their past two seasons, they have struggled with soil problems in their greenhouses. They have found that there is very little research into using organic and sustainable growing mediums for tomato production. Most of the research is focused on field or in ground organic production, or conventionally grown intensive hydroponic methods. Their project aims to find a balance between these two methods that they can use for future organic production.
Deep Rooted’s comparison trial consists of using a custom compost-based blend with different amendments to retain its high nutrient value while adding moisture retention. During the trial, they will monitor moisture and pH levels prior to and after watering, as well as taking tissue samples to see any differences in nutrient uptake that may result. The rows will be harvested and weighed separately to determine if the yield increases or decreases, as well as any increase or decrease in quality of fruit production.
They hope to continue the research on a smaller scale in the future, sharing the findings with universities, local extension offices and companies with which they are working.
Soil is one of the most important parts of farming. In some areas, there is little to no resources for organic production. The VFC P6 Microloan will help Deep Rooted further northern climate organic greenhouse production, increasing availability and quality of local organic produce in the Midwest.
To learn more, visit our P6 Microlending Initiative page.
Congratulations, again, to Tiffany and Jimmy of Deep Rooted! We look forward to having your delicious tomatoes in our produce department again soon.
We are pleased to announce that Del Sol Chocolate is a 2015 VFC P6 Microlending recipient. The VFC P6 Microlending Committee is excited to fulfill Del Sol Chocolate’s entire request of $2,000 for their Cacao Mill and Winnowing Machine Project.
Del Sol Chocolate is owned and operated by Lynn Kronschnabel in Viroqua, WI. Lynn specializes in making artisan bean-to-bar chocolates using high quality, organic and ethically sourced cacao from farmer co-ops and small holder farms around the world. The bars are sweetened with organic cane sugar or locally produced maple sugar. To learn more, check out Del Sol Chocolate’s P6 Profile.
Del Sol Chocolate’s VFC P6 Microloan will finance the construction of a new cacao bean mill and winnowing machine for chocolate production. The new cacao mill will be used specifically for milling whole roasted cacao beans into nibs. The mill will be hand powered with the ability to be converted to bicycle power. The winnowing machine will separate milled cacao nibs from cacao skin in a much more efficient manner than is currently used.
Time and human resource management are critical to the success of small farms and producers. The VFC P6 Microloan allows Del Sol Chocolate the ability to build new equipment that will help increase efficiency when making bean-to-bar chocolate, thereby allowing them to increase production and save on labor.
The VFC P6 Microlending Initiative was created in 2012 by the VFC Board of Directors as a way to make interest-free loan(s) of up to $3,250 available for farmers and producers selling to the VFC or at the Viroqua Farmers Market. Loans are aimed at financing new projects or infrastructure for small farmers/producers that will help them grow their businesses and must be paid back within one year. Through the P6 Microlending Initiative the VFC strengthens small, local farms and producers that supply the Co-op and creates opportunities to improve their operations. To learn more, visit our P6 Microlending Initiative page.
Congratulations, again, to Lynn Kronschnabel of Del Sol Chocolate! We look forward to seeing your chocolate business grow in the coming year.
In 2014, the P6 Microlending Committee decided to fund two projects from local producers. We are pleased to announce that Wisco Pop! of Viroqua, Wisconsin is the second of two 2014 VFC P6 Microlending recipients. The VFC Microlending Committee is happy to fulfill their request of $1,500 to help get their craft brewed soda into bottles.
In the fall of 2012, the VFC Board of Directors started a P6 Microlending Initiative. Through this program, an individual or farm that is currently selling their product to the VFC is eligible for an interest-free loan of up to $3,000 for a new project or infrastructure. Loans must be paid back within one year. Through this Microlending Initiative the VFC strengthens small, local farms and producers that supply the Co-op and creates opportunities to improve their operations.
We are pleased to announce that Second Cloud on the Left Farm in La Farge, Wisconsin is the 2014 VFC P6 Microlending recipient. The Committee is happy to fulfill their entire request of $1,629 for their Lettuce Mix Harvesting and Season Extension Project. Second Cloud is owned and operated by Toril and Drew Fisher who specialize in growing two specific varieties of produce: heirloom tomatoes and heirloom leafy greens. Though they have made tremendous strides in both areas, market demand is stronger in the area of greens.
Harvesting leafy greens is extremely time consuming. With hand held harvest knives and bins, one person can harvest about 6 pounds per hour and wash and pack around 12 pounds per hour. With one part of the loan, Second Cloud is purchasing a hand-held, mechanized harvester that harvests greens at a maximum rate of 175 pounds per hour. This will allow Second Cloud to complete their harvesting process in less than an hour and move field workers onto the wash and pack line, increasing their ability to move and ship more product to market and improve sales.
With the second part of the loan, Second Cloud will improve upon their season extension technologies on the farm. Season extension technologies such as hoop houses and row covers provide numerous advantages to farmers who can leverage these technologies and increase their production from eight months to 10-12 months of the year. Currently, Second Cloud has two hoop houses. Part of the VFC P6 Microloan will be used to improve their greenhouse operations through the purchase of a large roll of greenhouse plastic to maximize and extend the greens season in both hoop houses into December and January. The plastic will replace woven agricultural fabrics that provide secondary coverage for greens in the hoop houses. This cover holds and maintains soil temperatures and humidity better than the agricultural fabrics.
Last fall, the VFC Board of Directors announced a new Microlending Initiative. Through this program, an individual or farm that is currently selling their product to the VFC is eligible for an interest-free loan of up to $3000, to be paid back within one year. Through the Microlending Initiative we hope to strengthen small, local farms that supply the Co-op and create opportunities to improve their operations. The Microlending Initiative was developed under the direction of the Board of Directors by the Microlending Committee, which consists of two VFC Board Members and two VFC Managers.