As the CSA grew, Jill knew it was time to decide which of her two occupations she should stick with. It was becoming clear that there was no time to work as a Marketing Director, so she left her job, and pursued her passion of working full-time on the farm. She also began doing presentations for local schools, businesses and groups to educate them on the CSA philosophy and the importance of eating local. Although she used her farm as an example of how people can eat local, she expressed the importance of doing some research and choosing the right CSA for their family or deciding if visiting a farmer’s market or learning to grow their own garden might be better alternatives. She also likes to discuss what it means to be sustainable and to explain the difference between a farm chicken and a factory chicken.
“Although I do not have a soil science degree, I can say that my passion for doing what is best and doing what I enjoy to do motivates me to do anything I can to improve our farm and its products. I continually strive to learn all I can about ways to improve the quality of the 63 vegetables and fruits we currently grow for our members. I take great pride in our farm and products and do all I can to provide the most nutritious products,” said Jill.
While 63 varieties may seem like an overwhelming amount, Jill feels they are necessary to provide something new and exciting all the time. “It also helps to have 63 varieties of veggies because if Mother Nature decides to give us bad weather we always can provide a share,” she said.
Okra is probably the most unusual found at RR Farm, and they are going to try artichokes this year. “Members love tomatoes, peppers, beans so we offer a couple different varieties of each and have a ‘Chinese’ week when we offer Bok Choy, Nappa Cabbage, and Asian greens,” she said. Jill has also discovered that “Members love KALE! During the season we all exchange recipes. We personalize shares so if a member says they don't like corn, they don't get corn. I provide a survey when they sign up and ask what they like and what they don't like,” she said.
Jill has four children ages 18 – 27 who were raised in the garden and were eating brussel sprouts at two years of age! They are all still involved in the farm in some way.
RR Farm, offers free-range eggs and an online organic bulk food buying club in Neosho, Wisconsin in addition to their vegetable shares.
Jill decided to add the online organic bulk food because she wanted people to find out how easy and affordable it is to eat organically. “Eating trends are changing and I want to inform members about GMO, Gluten, Fair Trade, Soy, Corn, sugar and provide an option that is easy to participate in. The organic bulk food is delivered with their CSA, so it makes it easy for working moms and dads. Our organic bulk food buying club is open to members and nonmembers. It is just a great way to educate people on healthy alternatives. Everyone can afford to eat organic, they just have to know how to buy it!” said Jill.
This blog post was written by Theresa Lins. Theresa is a Milwaukee-based writer and Urban Ecology Center “groupie”. She has been active in promoting the Center and its programs for over 14 years. Other than eating farm-fresh food, her favorite thing is to write about it and the people who produce it.
You can meet these farmers and many others at the Local Farmer Open House on March 9th at our Riverside Park branch. Meet and sign up with farmers, learn how you can join a CSA farm (purchase a share of the harvest) and get a box of fresh produce each week during the season. Join us for this free event!