In the Driftless region, we are blessed with ample numbers of local farmers growing and producing everything from vegetables and fruits to dairy, hops, wheat, and more. It is only fitting that VFC’s most local brewery – Driftless Brewing Company – is focused on creating tasty sustainable ales and lagers that are rooted in local agriculture.Read More
Viroqua Food Co+op Blog
Update: 40 Acres & A Mule Project
In the 2020 Autumn Pea Soup Newsletter, we featured the 40 Acres and a Mule Project headed up by Uptowne Café’s (La Crosse) owner Adrian Lipscombe. This project is raising money to purchase at least a 40-acre farm for black farmers to produce food for the local food industry, serve as an outlet for black foodways, and be a safe haven to secure the legacy of black foodways.Read More
Robert and Summer Schulz are the owners and operators of New Traditions Homestead located in rural Hillsboro. “I have been involved in gardening since a child. Our family always had a big garden and I feel it stuck with me,” shared Robert. He started growing his own market garden when he was in high school and college and would sell to local restaurants in his hometown. “I’ve always enjoyed the process of starting, tending, and harvesting produce. Growing food is essential and it offers a sense of self-sufficiency that I believe is important for anyone to truly feel secure in life.”Read More
In case you have been missing our staff picks around the store while you shop, we’ve got a new basket-worth of products for you to try. Each department has been positively raving about these items and we know that if you give them a chance, you will agree! As springtime approaches, we get to enjoy local asparagus. Asparagus (started from seed) can take 3-4 years before it produces the delicious stalks you see in our store. Our local farmers are careful to harvest sustainably, maintaining the health of their plants for future seasons. Depending on weather, asparagus has a local season of only 3-6 weeks!
So rejoice in these upcoming seasonal and ongoing delicacies. Even if they are “just pasta” or “just olive oil,” we can’t wait for you to try these healthy, whole foods so their flavors can speak for themselves!Read More
Last August I was one of the lucky winners of a National Cooperative Grocers (NCG) Contest sponsored by Herb Pharm, which included a trip to their state-of-the-art production facility as well as their 80-acre certified organic farm surrounded by the Siskiyou Mountains in Oregon! The experience was top notch. I discovered I love the high desert and have returned to the Co-op with so much great information to share with my friends and customers!
There were many aspects of Herb Pharm that were impressive. I would like to share a few of my favorites.Read More
Have you noticed? Warmer weather is officially here. That means it’s time to start bicycling and eating fresh local food! On June 29, you can do both, while learning about local farms that supply produce to the Viroqua Food Co-op and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), by riding in the 2nd Annual Bike the Barns Driftless!
It had been a hard winter for Chief Woksis and his tribe of Iroquois. Spring came upon them with the smell of new life in the air and a fresh energy. Chief Woksis threw his tomahawk at the closest tree with a hoot, he couldn’t believe the luck his hunting parties had this morning. They had more meat than they had seen in months, there would be a feast! As he pulled his tomahawk from the tree and walked away, his wife touched the thin sap that came out of the tree’s wound. It was sweet! She quickly gathered enough of the liquid to boil her meat in that night, creating a maple aroma that permeated the camp. When it came time to eat the sap had become thick syrup! All of the water had boiled off during the day. The Iroquois knew they had stumbled on to something monumental this day.
The Arabs had banned the sale of fertile coffee beans for over a hundred years before this day, but the Dutch trader Pieter van der Broecke had a plan. It was 1616 and he was not going to deal with these Arab traders anymore, he had gotten his hands on some of the closely guarded coffee bushes from Mocha in Yemen. He would get them to Amsterdam where they would thrive in the Botanical gardens there. Within forty years the beans from these plants would start a thriving industry that spread to Sri Lanka, Java, and Suriname….and eventually these beans would make their way to Viroqua.
The sun was just beginning to rise when Steve finished milking the last of the 50 cows in his herd. He was ready for the truck to come pick up the new batch of organic milk this morning; he was the first stop on this route. He started back towards the house to get some breakfast before starting another day on the farm, his work was never done.
When you buy a Cold Press Maple Latte from the VFC Deli, or encourage some else to buy it, you aren’t just getting one of the most delicious drinks you’ve had in your life. You are keeping your friends and neighbors in business. You are telling the world you can make it happen in your own backyard. You are keeping history alive. This isn’t just a drink, this is a statement - loud and proud - shouted to the whole world. When you buy this you are making Local, Fair Trade, and Organic a reality.
Don’t let the spirit of Chief Woksis down.
Waleed Mahmoud, Viroqua Food Co-op Deli Manager
Do you enjoy riding your bicycle in the rolling hills of the Driftless? Do you love local food? Are you interested in learning more about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and the local farms that supply produce to the Viroqua Food Co-op? If you answered yes to all those questions, do we have the event for you!
Bike the Barns West is a recreational bicycle tour featuring FairShare CSA Coalition farms and local food in the Driftless region on Sunday, June 30. This unique bike tour takes riders to CSA farms around the region to raise awareness of and participation in local CSA farms. Bike the Barns West riders travel a 52 mile scenic route that starts and ends in Readstown, Wisconsin and visits Keewaydin Farm and Small Family Farm, both of which are CSA farms that supply delicious organic produce to the Viroqua Food Co-op. The ride is fueled by gourmet food grown by local farmers and prepared by Rooted Spoon Culinary, including snacks, lunch, and post-ride refreshments.
Funds raised through rider pledges support FairShare CSA Coalition’s Partner Shares Program, a community initiative to improve access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables, and support local farmers. Bike the Barns West is a fantastic way to roll through the countryside, visit local farms, eat delicious local food, and support a great cause.