The Farmers Behind the Food: Tim and April, LotFotL Community Farm

Written by Jamie Ferschinger
    Wednesday, 27 February 2013
April with a long bean! April with a long bean!

Tim Huth owns LotFotL Community Farm (LotFotL rhymes with “hot bottle” and stands for Living off the Fat of the Land). Tim became interested in vegetable farming while studying at Carroll University in Waukesha. With a strong interest in building community, Tim realized that he wanted to build a skill that produced tangible results that contributed to whatever community he was a part of. So what started out as a back porch container garden in college, blossomed into a business in 2007.

Two years ago Tim moved LotFotL to the historic Quinney family farm, W7036 Quinney Rd. in Elkhorn, WI. The farm was originally started by John and Bridget Quinney in 1868. Dr. Richard Quinney, criminology expert, philosopher, and author of the memoir Of Time and Place: A Farm in Wisconsin, which tells the story of the farm his great-grandparents started, owns the 160-acre property along with his brother, Ralph. The Quinney brothers became intrigued by the viability of small farms in modern times. In 2004 they leased the farm to the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture.

Huth subleases 20 acres from John Hall, former executive director of Michael Fields. Hall has been performing agricultural research on the land, studying the pros and cons of switchgrass as a renewable form of energy, and raises 100% grass fed steers that are then marketed through LotFotL.

Tim’s partner April works on the farm as CSA coordinator, Customer service rep, bookkeeper, etc, but her favorite job is farm beekeeper. The farm and the bees have a synergistic relationship. April supplements with biodynamic herbal teas for the bees and uses no synthetic chemicals or antibiotics with them.

“I mentored under Dan O’Leary, a beekeeper in East Troy that used the teas.  He kept bees at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute among other places.  He learned this from biodynamic beekeeper Gunther Hauk, and it is Gunther's recipe that I use,” says April.

Honeybees bring a life force to the farm that cannot be measured. They are so important that the farm holds a “Bee Blessing” each year.  The Bee Blessing is an on farm potluck event that includes a farm tour and education about their honey bees.  Last year they cooked out meat from the grass fed beef raised on the farm. The tentative date for this year’s Bee Blessing is June 8th.  

In 2012, LotFotL had about 380 CSA memberships and will grow to about 450 in this coming 2013 season. This will be year 5 at South Shore Farmers Market. CSA members and market goers can expect to get striped heirloom Dragon Tongue Beans and Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes among other old varieties produced at the farm. As a young grower, Tim tries many new things each year, but already has some all-time favorites including broccoli, carrots and especially heirloom tomatoes.  “He likes to grow many different things, and each year it can differ.  Broccoli is great because it is so fun to harvest with a big machete-like knife; carrots because they are hidden beauties until they get dug up; and heirloom tomatoes because they are just so delicious!” says April.

LotFotL offers over 80 items in their shares and flexibility on the share size. They offer three different share sizes to accommodate the needs of their members. According to Tim, “There's nothing wrong with giving out overly abundant shares, but if our hard labors rot in crispers because we're giving out more than our members can use each time, that doesn't do either of us any good.”
The farm employs about five full time workers, some of whom are aspiring farmers themselves. It also has a successful worker share program allowing folks to work for their CSA shares. This program adds a much valued human diversity to the farm.

Community is important to LotFotL. Members are updated and educated about the farm and sustainable food through their e-newsletter and are invited out to the Bee Blessing event each year. Local food pantries, Habitat for Humanity, and local schools have all visited and/or gotten food from the farm. Neighbors have come out to visit or help build greenhouses and left with a bag of bell peppers still warm from the sun or yummy ripe cucumbers. “Food impacts all of us and it takes everybody to keep a farm viable,” say April and Tim.

 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.

2013 LFOH logoYou 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!

Jamie Ferschinger

Jamie Ferschinger

With a Bachelor's degree in Biology and Communications and a Master's degree in Conservation Biology, Jamie brings a wealth of experiences and deep passion to her work at the Urban Ecology Center. As Branch Manager of the Riverside Park Branch, she helps to ensure that things are running smoothly and everybody is happy! Outside of work, Jamie enjoys running when the sun is coming up, spending time outside, cooking, listening to music and traveling to new places.


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