Article at Ozukee Press on August 7th 2014
http://ozaukeepress.com/good-living/5587-the-organic-farming-life-link to article with photos-written by Carol Pomaday
Working from dawn to dark with hand tools, surrounded by organic flowers and produce, Jacqui Fulcomer and Dan Bertram find operating a CSA farm in Fredonia a sustainable way to lead their lives
Do organic, locally grown flowers smell sweeter, last longer and bring more enjoyment? Jacqui Fulcomer believes they do, and those who purchase her flowers at farmers' markets or through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program apparently agree, since most are repeat customers.
"You can put your nose into them and take a big whiff without worrying about any chemicals," Fulcomer said.
"I pick them fresh that morning, and I forage in the woods and pick wildflowers to add texture, color and scents. This week, I found bittersweet and dogwood berries. I always add herbs to bouquets."
Fulcomer and her husband Dan Bertram operate a CSA for produce, flowers and eggs on their eight-acre Willoway Farm in the Town of Fredonia, which they bought in December 2005. Their goal then and now is to live sustainably off their land.
What has changed is they now have a son Sam, 3, and 1-year-old daughter Summer, who is often glued to her mother's hip.
"We still work from dawn to past dark, but with a family, we obviously have to juggle our time," Fulcomer.
"We used to do a newsletter every week about what's in the CSA box and how to use it. We would be working on it blurry-eyed late at night. Now, we do a podcast. We call it a farmcast. People can listen to it in their cars, and it saves trees."
The couple limit their vegetable CSA to 35 full-time shares, flowers to 25 people and egg shares to those who get produce.
"That's sustainable for us," Fulcomer said. "All the seeds used for our vegetables, flowers and herbs are either certified organic, heirloom or our own saved seeds. We refuse to use genetically modified or treated seeds."
Her list of perennial, annual and heirloom blooms is long and includes such unusual flowers as masterwort, painted tongue, tassel flower, salpiglossis, scabosia, "love lies bleeding" amaranthus and "love in a mist" nigella.
"These are things you can't find at a florist or even order," said Fulcomer, who also has a wedding flower business, but will only book one event on a weekend.
She supplies edible flowers, such as nasturtiums, violas, pansies and bachelor buttons, to area restaurants that often use her husband's produce.
The couple has a small herd of Finn sheep that they milk and use for meat.
"I wanted to make sheep cheese and soaps, but then Sam came along. Maybe someday," Fulcomer said.
She grows flowers around the edges of the vegetable gardens and amid the produce.
"I like walking past flowers as I work," she said. "The nice thing about growing flowers with vegetables is I can use them also. Dan is growing purple snow peas. I like to add the tendrils to bouquets after he picks them."
Fulcomer planted cosmos next to kale. The vegetable's strong leaves support the tall, wispy flowers. Other companion plantings help repel bugs, and tall vegetables and flowers provide shade for plants that don't like the hot sun.
The couple uses the French intensive gardening method. Bertram built raised garden beds on 1-1/2 acres and planted clover in the wide footpaths. The gardens are on a southern slope, and an irrigation system protects against droughts and frosts.
"The weeding never ends," Fulcomer said. "We weed constantly. We use only hand tools. We use a hoe between rows, but weed by hand in the rows."
An apple orchard was planted from grafts of heirloom root stock from Cornell University in New York. Heirloom pear trees were also planted, but they didn't survive the harsh winter.
The couple have hosted several events at the farm.
Braise Restaurant and Culinary School in Milwaukee held its second dinner on the farm July 26. Another Milwaukee restaurant, Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub, is planning an event Aug. 31.
Members of the Cedarburg Artists Guild will meet at the farm Aug. 17 for a day of painting and drawing.
On Oct. 5, the couple is planning a children's music event for CSA members.
"It may be a little cold, but that's when our work slows down and there should be some good color," Fulcomer said.
"We're fortunate to be located in Ozaukee County and close to Milwaukee."
The couple does most of the work with the help of Bertram's parent Bill and Jill Bertram, who own adjacent land. The Bertrams also take care of Sam and Summer when needed.
Bertram and his father built a shed from old barn boards next to the gardens that is used for washing and packing produce. An open loft is used for drying flowers and curing onions and garlic.
The main barn, which Fulcomer uses for arranging bouquets, is her father-in-law's workshop.
A former milk house is being converted into a certified kitchen for canning and making other food products that can be sold. Jill Bertram and her sister are spearheading that project.
A storage shed will soon house Dan's workshop on the second level with a freestanding porch that overlooks the expansive property.
"This little patch of eight acres is paradise to us," Fulcomer said. "It's work to make it paradise. It doesn't just happen. It's definitely a family effort.
"Dan is an extraordinary man. He's very optimistic about what can be done if you put the work into it. People say they wish they could live like us, but it's not for everybody."
Information on Willoway Farm is available at www.willowayfarm.net.
Image information: Jacqui Fulcomer and Dan Bertram with their children Summer, 1, and Sam, 3, enjoy life on their organic farm in the Town of Fredonia.
Photo by Sam Arendt
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Wedding Flowers by Waggle Dance Flowers /Willoway Farm
Photos above by CJ Foeckler
We have been growing flowers on our farm since we were established in 2007 and it is a pleasure to cultivate perennials, herbs, fruit, natives and even vegetables all available for the flower arrangements for weddings. Above is a modest bouquet as requested by the bride of the local Milwaukee Band- Blessed Feathers. Jacquelyn requested mostly pastels, plus herbs such as rosemary (used in boutonnieres and table arrangements), lavender (used all over boutonnieres for the calming effect on the bridal party , table tops and the bride's bouquet), and White sage. In the bouquet above we grew and arranged calla lilies, roses, blue phlox, blush & coral peonies, poppy seed pods and buds of hostas. The cake above we have the iridescent delphinium, borage and edible violas.
We offer a discount for weddings flowers reserved by January 31st 2015. A discount of 10% of the total. We encourage early booking because we love to custom grow for brides and can get that done knowing early what they want and customizing desires straight from seed catalogs. Fresh Flowers grown locally and organically will look better, smell better and be much more unique then the flowers imported and sold at most florist and grocery stores. Be a part of the local scene and consider Waggle Dance Flowers /Willoway Farm for your dream wedding.
below another view of brides bouquet and a table full of wedding table arrangements.
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Dinners on the Farm & Farmcast
It has been forever since we last blogged- First we started our own "podcast" for CSA members and anyone else who wants to hear our voices. We call it Farmcast. The link is on the left of our website here. We decided instead of writing newsletters late at night and moan over editting why not just talk about the CSA share. Audible stuff is great cause you could still be doing stuff while you are listening instead of staring at a computer screen or printing on paper.
I , Jacqui have been posting lots of photos on facebook as of late and need to update our website photos -so I will-after this blog.
Next news is we will be hosting dinners on the farm. Where all the produce is grown by us. We will give you a tour of hte farm, chat with you, answer questions and you get to meet our little ones Sam and Summer and 3 other members of our family who help a great deal on our farm. We have a hill top with a 360 degree view and young orchard, animals and a garden of mixed vegetables , flowers and other edibles. Below is a link to the first event on July 26th with Braise cooking it. One person who attended last year said, "Best night out I went to in 2013!". So we hope to see and meet you there.
Other events are in the works- more dinners on the farm and an open house artist day.
The rain was good for us overall helping things grow...but it did slow down on successions of crops getting planted in the ground. But now things are coming around.
If ya wanna get you hands dirty on July 12th and 13th around 2 pm we are inviting anyone to help hand weed in trade for produce and flowers..we like to barter.
And sooo excited for Dan to pull away from garden work and pour the remainder cement in his workshop-it is gonna be snazzy with a free standing patio...happening this Saturday morning. So if anyone comes and pull weeds this weekend they will be the first to see the results.
Above- Sunflower, Sugar snap pea trellis and our Sammy's Rose Flower PoseAdd a comment
CSA news-new pick up and home delivery via bike
Hello all- onion and flower seedling are appearing in our lil germination room. That always brings a smile to my face reminding me the warmer sunnier days. But the real news is both a new pick up location for our CSA and a bike deliver option for our Riverwest neighborhood pick up at People Books Coop. Some CSA nowadays are offering home delivery and Dan and I could not offer this-it did not seem sustainable for us to do home deliveries because of the additional time away from farm, additional gas cost and makes a bigger carbon print on our end. So Dan and I thought how cool would it be for a basket to be delivered by bike to your doorstep. The nice thing about this is People Book Coop on some weeks closes at 6 pm so for those feeling crunched for time on Wednesday afternoons they could have their basket delivered. This is an additional cost and may be able to be done on select days with enough notice.
Our new pick up location is for a Saturday Pick up at Bavette Le Boucherie a neighborhood butcher shop utilizing local meats and whole carcasses. "Bavette has a selection of local artisan products to stock your pantry or accompany your meat ranging from sauces, relishes, pickles, jams, and mustards. Bavette also carries a selection of artisan Wisconsin cheeses and locally sourced charcuterie. In addition, Bavette sells a small selection of professionally curated wines handpicked by My Wine School proprietor Jessica Bell. There are also craft beers from the Midwest. Both the wine and beer can be bought and taken home or enjoyed at Bavette for a corkage fee."
One stop shop with that Bavette Le Boucherie and our CSA produce share andFlower share for your summer evening and grilling delights!
And those pics-Dan's deck to be on the second floor of his shop---and you bet it gets warm in there on a sunny day!Add a comment
Farmer Dan offers Consultation Services for Garden Planning
Have you ever wanted to have a vegetable garden of your own but were unsure of where to begin? What crops to grow and where to plant them? How to grow successions of crops and enough for your winter storage and canning goods? Have you wondered what can grow best in your garden's soil fertility how to enhance it and what type of soil you are growing your crops in. Unsure where the site of the garden should be? How much time will it take and how can you fit in time with your life style? Veggies, herbs, fruit ,permaculture strategies and flowers with companion planting are all within Dan's experience and practices.
Farmer Dan of Willoway Farm would like to offer his knowledge to the aspiring back yard gardener. Contact Willoway Farm now through the end of February for consultation services for the 2014 crop season.Add a comment
- Revamping Grainery for Workshop
- Give the gift of Nutritional Food
- Flower Share 2014 Special for Holiday Gifts
- Whoa What A Summer
- Memorial Day weekend happenings at the farm
- CSA Flower Shares still available for 2013-Great Mother's Day GIft
- Keeping our Flower arrangements green-info on the green foam used in commerical flower arrangements