SARE Grantee to Hold Fruit-Growing Symposium at Hilltop Community Farm in Wisconsin
The public is invited to a day of learning and celebration at Hilltop Community Farm, a small, diversified, community-supported agriculture farm and orchard near LaValle, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 14. This event features Erin's Schneider's NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant project, which assessed the sustainability of growing non-traditional fruit tree crops on Hilltop Community Farm, a community supported agriculture operation, on the eastern edge of Wisconsin's Driftless region.
Source: Reedsburg Times-Press,
On July 14, visitors to Hilltop Community Farm will be able to celebrate fruit and build community while exploring ways to expand the markets, products, and palettes for unique small fruits in Wisconsin.
The public is invited to a day of learning and celebration at Hilltop Community Farm, a small, diversified, community-supported agriculture farm and orchard near LaValle, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 14.
Visitors will be able to learn about sustainable fruit production and marketing research being conducted at Hilltop and discover ways to use, prepare, grow and market small fruits such as currants, saskatoons, honeyberry, and elderberry.
There will be a mix of focused discussions involving farmer entrepreneurs, a panel of experts highlighting success stories on current trends involving local food, fruits that help communities and farmers prosper, an orchard tour, a jam-making demonstration and music. Lunch and snacks will be provided.
The goal of organizers is to have visitors leave with resources on growing fruits, ideas for use and preparation and ways to support growing Wisconsin’s local food and fruit system.
Three years ago, beginning farm women at Hilltop Community Farm, Elsewhere Farm, and Mary Dirty Face Farm — who manage small, diversified farms in Wisconsin — independently set out to grow unique varieties of fruits such as currants, saskatoons, honeyberry and elderberry, using agroforestry techniques.
Having discovered that they were growing the same fruits in similar phases of production and facing the same marketing challenges, they set out to work together.
The farms jointly received grant funding to research marketing options for their unusual fruit from the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Farmer Rancher grant program.
The low-impact nature of these fruits, grown at Hilltop when cultivated using agroforestry techniques, should appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, sparking wide interest from other farmers.
“We’ve led several orchard tours in the three years since we planted it,” says Hilltop farmer Rob McClure. The up-and-coming generation of consumers is more concerned with the sustainability of what they eat. At the same time, they see family farms disappearing around them.
“We want to let both farmers and consumers about these novel, well-adapted, potentially high margin fruits, but also open a wider dialogue with the community about the changing nature of agriculture, its difficulties, and how we need to adapt in the next 10 to 20 years.”
For event details and to RSVP, contact Erin Schneider of Hilltop Community Farm by July 11 at 608-257-6729 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for the event is provided by the Wisconsin Farmers Union, with research support from the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Farmer-Rancher Grant Program.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) FNC08-718, Assessing the Sustainability of Growing Non-traditional Fruit Tree Crops in the Upper Midwest: A collaborative agro-forestry approach .