We met Lindsey last year when we were stressed out in the middle of winter with no idea where to grow our produce in the cool months of spring. We didn’t have a greenhouse and the idea of growing 80-120 flats in our house under grow lights seemed a lot more difficult than the 40 we’d done the previous year, but we couldn’t think of any other option!
I took a leap of faith and cold called (okay, e-mailed) a veggie farmer I’d never met (or heard of) but lived nearby and asked if we could share her greenhouse. She didn’t hesitate. She said of course. And then went out of her way to make sure we were accommodated and then refused to accept a dime for her extreme generosity. It was the start of a beautiful friendship.
Lindsey is like no one else I’ve ever met. She is a power house. She does so much. Grassroots Farm is exceptionally diverse with vegetable shares, cut flower shares, egg shares, dairy shares, specialty product shares and a winter meat & egg share. She runs her organic farm with her mother Gail in the midst of conventional Wisconsin farm land and fits in. So many organic farmers have a chip on their shoulder when they’re surrounded by conventional cash crops but Lindsey makes friends with every type of farmer. She respects those who work the land.
Lindsey does it all with grace. She is strong and confident and quirky and unique and totally awesome. I have yet to find a person she’s met who doesn’t adore her. She is a fantastic farmer and a beautiful person. We are so lucky to have stumbled into her life.
How did you eventually find your way into farming? What’s your long and winding path look like?
Well I’ve really only ever had two focuses, with about a couple months of time in between and not much mingling. I studied and made art until I found farming which I have been doing solid for the last 10 years. Farming came accidentally when I left art school looking for a lady woodworker offering an apprenticeship in cabinet or furniture making. With no immediate prospects there, I answered an Isthmus print ad for a vegetable farm internship. Everything fell into place from there… It’s interesting though. My grandmother grew up in rural Missouri where they farmed small grains with a team of mules and a greenhouse business selling poinsettias and Easter lillies. I am the only other farmer in the family since.
Tell me a little more about your farm.
We are a womyn owned and operated certified organic vegetable and pastured no-GMO livestock farm. We are a safe space for womyn, men, kids of all ages, trans-people, parents, retirees, locals, city-dwellers, and queers. We raise geese, chickens for meat and eggs, turkeys, hogs, cattle, and lambs. We grow certified organic hops, apples, cut flowers, herbs and veggies.
What made you decide to make the leap into owning your own land and farm?
When I was farming, I always felt strongly about what I was doing and my farm dreams started taking shape pretty early on. I took small business management courses online while I worked for a successful and rapidly growing certified organic vegetable farm north of Chicago. My mother and I drove out to see what has now become Grassroots Farm and we knew it was the one immediately.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve found so far?
Tweeking our marketing and crop plan each season. We have to do it months in advance and try to account for unknown weather and buying trends. Each season we are getting a little closer to the most viable recipe of diversification and marketing for our unique farm. Our evolving production plans must reflect the unpredictable and sometimes extreme changes in our economy and weather patterns. That’s definitely a challenge.
You seem to know a lot of area farmers and work very well with others. How do you feel farmers can best work together to create a stronger food system?
For me, identifying what high quality, chemical-free crops were being produced by my small farm friends and neighbors has led to an awesome personal network of growers who all help me serve my customers with the best fresh and local food you can find. I love to share the support of our amazing customers from Monroe, Madison, and Chicago by buying in food produced near by and with integrity.
Are you enjoying your winter?
I love winter! There is plenty of sleep for me this time of year, but daily by 7AM I’m always chipping away at my mountain of office work, while keeping up with livestock chores, conferences, and the packing and delivering of my winter meat and egg share.
What are you most excited for this upcoming season?
Isn’t she great!? Don’t you want to take a long drive and end up a Grassroots Farm?!
If you want to visit but are too shy to drop by unannounced, there is a perfect opportunity to check out Grassroots Farm in August. Lindsey is participating in Soil Sisters, a whole weekend dedicated to celebrating women farmers, local agriculture and yummy food in the Brodhead and Monroe area.
Reserve your spot for the workshop here. No registration or payment required for the farm tour.
Lots of love from this farming gal,