From the Bronx 
to the Barn
Latina Baby Boomer Trades Subways for Grass-fed Beef

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Podcast: Behind-the- scenes of Around the Farm Table TV

What's it take to produce a half-hour television show about sustainable, small-family farming? Inga Witscher, host and co-creator of Around the Farm Table, describes the time and attention, adventures and surprising new skills needed to go from farm visit to finished show.
Supported by the Wisconsin Farmers Union and televised on Wisconsin Public Television, Around the Farm Table gives us a great glimpse into the hard work and deliciously healthful foods produced by small family farms all across the state.  Each show is sparked by lively conversation; beautiful views of fields, livestock, and crops; and recipes based on locally harvested ingredients.
I hope you enjoy this Deep Roots Radio interview and Inga's television shows.

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Podcast: USA's first - Hay River Organic Pumpkin Seed Oil - about jobs, community and health

It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and time to create a high quality food product - and the guys at Hay River have invested plenty of all three to produce America's first certified organic pumpkin seed oil.
seed oil pumpkin
Nestled in Prairie Farm, Wisconsin, Ken Sequine and Jay Gilbertson came to farming from non-agricultural backgrounds - Ken in the development, sales and marketing of sustainably-produced health and beauty aides - including executive positions with Aveda - and Jay from cosmetology. Today, they're champions for sustainable agriculture practice, paying living wages and building local community (lauded in recent Huffington Post).  
Like most farmers, both Ken and Jay also continue working off-farm - Ken in the marketing of probiotics, and Jay as the author of the popular Madeline Island series of novels.
I hope you enjoy this Deep Roots Radio interview with Ken and Jay. It was great having them in-studio for our conversation,
To find out more about Hay River Certified Organic Pumpkin Seed Oil, visit
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Woman farmer? Need biz management skills? Annie's Project this Satuday 9-9:30AM CT

What:     Deep Roots Radio live interview with Annie's Project - business skills for women farmers
When:    Satuday, March 22, 2014,  9:00-9:30AM Central
Where:   Broadcast and streamed live on WPCA Radio, 93.1FM,

One of the largest groups of new farmers in the USA is women farmers. Many come from non-farming backgrounds. Lots own smaller acreages. Some are farming on their own.
Annie's Project was founded to help women build business skills in finance, risk management, marketing, production, legal documentation, regulations, human resources and time management.

Tune in! 

Sylvia Burgos Toftness

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Tune in: Bossy Acres CSA on farm marketing, March 8, 9-9:30AM Central

   Most farmers groan when they're urged to market their veggies, fruits or meats.
"But all I want to do is farm!" they complain.
   There's no such whining at Bossy Acres Farm, Northfield, Minnesota. Now into its 5th season, this CSA is flying off the charts not only because its produce is great, but because its marketing is fun and effective.
   Karla Pankow (formerly in corporate sales and advertising), and Elizabeth Millard (20 years in journalism) are the bossy chicks at Bossy Acres. They bring their farming skills, communications chops and love of people to the farm - and it shows. Their Facebook posts, Tweets, articles, gear, and conversations are fun, informative and helpful. They demonstrate their passion for farming, great food, and connecting with customers every day.
   And they want to share their lessons learned with other farmers and food lovers.

What:    Deep Roots Radio with Karla Pankow, Bossy Acres CSA
When:   Saturday, March 8, 2014
              9:00-9:30 AM Central
Where:   Broadcast and streamed live from the studios of WPCA Radio, 93.1FM and

Hope you'll tune in!

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Gonna see my homies!

According to JLo, a sister Puerto Rican born and raised in New York City, my homies, or peeps, are the boys and girls I grew up with on the streets of the South Bronx. Well, yes and no. I had lots of good friends on Tiffany Street, but my heart and life have been elsewhere for a long time.
I've lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin (first one and then the other - no bi-location for me) for most of my adult life, moving to smaller and smaller communities over the years.
These days, my homies don't ride subways to Times Square. They drive tractors to the lower forty.
For example, this evening I spent a couple of hours in the company of farmers working to formalize a local farmers' cooperative - an organization created to help our small-family, sustainable farms market and distribute our vegetables, fruits and meats locally. For us that'll mean deliveries within a radius if 70 miles or so; a service area that includes the Minneapolis and St. Paul, metro area.
I'm excited that our farm, Bull Brook Keep, is a member of the Hungry Turtle Farmer's Cooperative. It's a building block in a plan to foster a vibrant local food hub that will benefit farmers and food lovers for miles around. Many of the ...
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Tune in: The new farm bill: the good, bad and ugly for food lovers and farmers, Feb. 8, 9-9:30AM Central

What:   President Obama signed the new farm bill on Friday, Feb. 7. If you live in the USA, this legislation is a direct hit on your grocery bills, your farming strategies, and your farm income.
            Join me for a live Deep Roots Radio interview with Margaret Krome, Policy Program Director with the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute. She'll describe what got cut, what got approved, and what fights to expect.
When:     Saturday, Feb. 9, 9:00-9:30AM Central Time
Where:    Broadcast & streamed live on WPCA Radio 93.1FM and

Care about beginning farmers, veterans who farm, farm subsidies, cuts in food subsidies to low-income families, support for organic ag research? If so, I hope you'll tune in.

Sylvia Burgos Toftness

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Update: Farming the Polar Vortex

Winter 2014
It's been grueling. Night after night at -20o to -30o, and days with highs below 0o. The snow we've plowed from the driveway sits in piles over 8 feet high. And winter's only half done!

This season's been fit for neither man nor beast. My cows normally ignore the cold: Their hides are thick and protected by a furry winter coat. BueLingo beef cattle were bred for the Upper Midwest, and they spend virtually every hour outdoors 12 months of the year. It's what our grass-fed cattle do - blissfully eat grasses and chew their cud when it's +85o, and eat hay and chew cud when it's -25o.
Cows march up to the barnNot so the last few weeks. Not only have they been eating more (normal as temps drop), but when blizzard gusts hit 58 mph, they marched - single file - up to the shelter of the barn. A highly unusual move.

For Dave and me it's meant climbing into the skid steer and plowing through 3-ft snow drifts several times a week to clear the driveway and ...
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Tune in: Buying chicks for city coop or farm? Purely Poultry Feb. 1, 9-9:30AM Central

What: Interview with Tyler Danke, founder of Purely Poultry, hatchery
When: Feb. 1, 2014   9:00-9:30AM Central
Where: WPCA Radio 93.1FM and streamed live on
Why: Raising chickens for eggs and meat is a growing activity all across the USA. Are you thinking of buying chicks this spring? Want tips? Tune in!

Chickens are rapidly gaining popularity as a locally grown food. More and more cities are passing ordinances making it easier for residents to have chickens in their own backyards. And, of course, farmers have always had a flock for home use. Now more are branching out and growing chickens and eggs for their local farmers market.

Have a question or comment for Tyler Danke? Leave it on my Facebook page or Twitter feed @BronxToBarn

Sylvia Burgos Toftness
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Of bread and beef, farming and obsessions (slides)

My first attempt could've dropped a horse: it looked like a brick and was about as tasty. But like many baby boomers in the early '70s, I was into organic gardening, soybean burgers (awful) and baking whole grain breads.
My eyes were opened and pallet educated during an extended stay in London where I happened upon a granary bread - a whole grain bread made by a truly experienced craftsman. I loved it toasted and slathered in butter and honey and washed down with a sweet and milky tea. In fact, I was so smitten, I spent months trying to recreate its seed-filled texture and nutty flavor. I recently came upon typed evidence of one of my early attempts.

The next couple of decades were devoted to children and career, and it wasn't until the early 2000's that the baking bug bit again - hard. I've been chasing the holy grail ever since: the search for the perfect crust and crumb. Fortunately, the last 15 years has seen an explosion of bread-baking cookbooks to help us map the quest.
I've been baking two to four loaves of hearth breads every week for the last eight years. (There have been occasional binges ...
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Tune in: Deep Roots Radio with Crystal Creek - natural remedies, nutrition for livestock

Where's a sustainable farmer supposed to do? When livestock need a nutritional boost because of injury or birthing, or when the flies are biting on a hot summer day, a sustainable farmer can't just pull out a canister of toxic chemical pesticide. There are natural solutions, however, and Crystal Creek is an important developer and provider of insect repellants, vitamins, minerals, healing treatments and consulting services.  And that means happier, healthier animals, and better product for you and me.

What:  Encore Deep Roots Radio interview with Dan Leiterman, President of Crystal Creek, Inc.
When: Saturday, January 11, 2014, 9:00-9:30AM Central
Where: Broadcast and streamed live from the studios of community-supported WPCA Radio, 93.1FM,
I hope you'll join me.
Sylvia Burgos Toftness
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