Who would have thought that one of Argentina’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives was started in a small bodega in La Rioja, Argentina? In the 1940s, a group of Italians who had experience making wine immigrated to La Rioja. They bought a bodega and started purchasing grapes from local growers to make wine. As interest grew, they started planting grape vines and La Riojana Cooperative was born.Read More
Viroqua Food Co+op Blog
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
Many would argue that the first true taste of summer is that of a sun-ripened local tomato. Lucky for us, that first taste of summer comes sooner at the VFC thanks to Deep Rooted, our local supplier of certified organic tomatoes. Outside of Westby, Wisconsin, this is our main local tomato producer, which is why we want to share their story with you.Read More
The Flower Basket is a true staple of Viroqua. They are a full service floral shop and greenhouse located at 520 East Terhune Street in Viroqua. The business started at it’s current location in the 1940’s with the name Hillcrest Garden Center.Read More
This month we are highlighting a relatively new producer to VFC. Fazenda Boa Terra is a certified organic produce farm located just outside Spring Green, WI owned and operated by Lidia Dungue and John Middleton.Read More
Chip Magnet is a new startup company owned by Alexis Lucas in Eau-Claire, Wisconsin. She makes a variety of salsas, relishes and jams, focusing on using organic and local ingredients when possible. The company hatched out of her passion for canning.
In her 20’s, Rachel Wolf was captivated by the concept of soapmaking. The idea of taking simple, raw materials and through chemistry (and maybe a little magic) turning them into something to clean and nourish the skin sounded wonderful. After years of reading about soapmaking, she mustered up the courage and taught herself. With a group of friends, she made her first batch of soap in 1997. Things just snowballed from there.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.