The Wisconsin Local Food Network


Thank you for visiting the Wisconsin Local Food Network’s (WLFN) website.

The WLFN is a collection of individuals and organizations (hopefully you) that all share a common vision for Wisconsin: a state that offers communities and businesses a local food system that supports sustainable farms of all sizes, a strong infrastructure for those farms and supporting food business to thrive, and affordable access to healthy locally grown food for ALL Wisconsin residents. If you support this vision and are working toward such a Wisconsin – then you are a part of the Wisconsin Local Food Network.

You may be wondering, “But what does the WLFN do?” And it would be a great question.

In the fewest words possible: We help local food businesses (whether a farm, a processor, a distributor, a restaurant, a farmers market, or a grocery store) thrive!

Continue reading

Urban Ecology Center to Host Inaugural Ferment!Milwaukee Event

MILWUAKEE In partnership with many Milwaukee-based organizations and businesses, the Urban Ecology Centerbrings you Ferment!Milwaukee, Milwaukee’s first fermentation event. Join us, October 3rd, 2015 From 11-3:00pm at the Urban Ecology Center – Riverside Park, 1500 E Park Place, Milwaukee, 53211

This event is FREE!

Humans have been fermenting food and beverages since the ancient times – it is an age-old natural process. The goal of the Ferment!Milwaukee is to introduce people to the interesting world of fermentation or help people learn even more about the culinary and health benefits of fermentation, as well as, the history of fermented beverages. We have a number of great resources in our community from business owners who make and sell delicious fermented foods including chocolate, cheese, bread, sauerkraut, kefir, and more. Additionally, health experts can help to educate people about the health benefits of consuming fermented food and beverages. And lastly, visitors can learn about how they can ferment food and beverages in their own home. At Ferment!Milwaukee people can meet local vendors who create and sell fermented food and beverages, attend workshops on the history and culinary aspects of fermentation, health benefits of fermentation, and how to ferment food and beverages at home. Everyone is welcome – meet the vendors, sample fermented foods and beverages, attend workshops and listen to the music of Gilbert Surf!

VENDORS: Rishi Tea, Slow Pokes, Simple Soyman, Zymbiotics, Indulgence Chocolate, Clock Shadow Creamery, Northern Brewer, Joyful Eats, Rocket Baby Bakery


11:30am:  Fermenting Beverages through History. Joshua Immermann Driscoll, UWM PhD candidate. Starting with the origins of fermented beverages over 9,000 years ago, we will trace its development as a nutritional food source, a method of payment, and a favorite culinary pastime from ancient China all the way to medieval monasteries.

12:00pm. The Cultures of Cheese. Bob Wills, owner, Clock Shadow Creamery/Cedar Grove Cheese. Learn the role of bacterial cheese cultures, yeasts and mold in cheese production and these create the wide variety of cheeses. Additionally, the role territory and geographic variations in cheese will be explored. Lastly, the role of pasteurization and its impact on cheese making will be discussed.

12:30pm. Growing a Culture of Health: how fermented foods and beverages boost your immune system, improve digestion and good health.  Barbara Heinen, CNC from Joyful Eats Discover their crucial role in a healthy digestive system, which is the foundation of a healthy body. Gather ideas and inspiration for incorporating them into all your meals.

1:00pm. The Art and Joy of Making Your Own Beer. James Jordan from Northern Brewer.

1:30pm. The Basics of Home Food Fermentation. Betty Holloway from Nutriphoria, LLC.


Gilbert Surf will be playing music throughout the event.

For more information,

Contact: Jamie Ferschinger, Branch Manager – Riverside Park Urban Ecology Center

(414) 964-8505 |

Local Food Co-Op Celebrates New Store Anniversary

September 25, 2015

ASHLAND, WI – The Chequamegon Food Co-op will celebrate its first anniversary in its new store on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The time since its move to 700 Main Street West has been filled with change as the Co-op expanded its ownership base, added staff, and increased overall sales.

Chequamegon Food Co-op is a community-owned business. Since the move, the Co-op has added nearly 600 new owners to bring its ownership up to 2,600 community members. Over 20 new employees have been added to the staff roster. Store sales have been close to meeting projections, with overall sales expected to top $4 million by year’s end.

The Co-op was incorporated in 1976, the same year the Co-op’s first storefront opened in Ashland. The store was run entirely on member labor for the first five years. After four moves and the hiring of a part-time manager, the Co-op settled at 215 Chapple Ave in 1986. The store began to show a profit in 1990.

Growing interest in the organic and natural foods market allowed two major renovations of the store: in 1994 and in 2001. In 2001 the Co-op purchased 213 Chapple Avenue and doubled in size. The Co-op moved from approximately 2,000 square feet of retail space to 6,000 square feet in its Main Street location. This extra space allowed the Co-op to stock more local products, including additional produce, fresh meat, fresh fish, value-added food products, wellness goods, and general merchandise.

Other new amenities include a grab-and-go deli, deli seating, and a cooking classroom/community room.

The anniversary celebration will include free refreshments, special sales, and a meet-and-greet with local food and wellness business owners, including Big Water Coffee of Bayfield, Wis. and Lea’s Organic Herbal Skin Care of Washburn, Wis. To learn more about the Chequamegon Food Co-op and its anniversary celebration, please contact Harold Vanselow, general manager, at (715) 682-8251 or

Farm Aid Week in Chicago: Join the Fun, Film Festival and Good Food Revolution

Chicago will host the 30th anniversary Farm Aid concert this Saturday (Sept. 19). Residents of the nation’s third most-populous city will have the opportunity to reacquaint with issues concerning family farmers, through the highest-profile — and most star-powered — event that benefits them and their causes.

Farm Aid founders photo
Music legends (from left) Neil Young, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp founded Farm Aid in 1985 and have led the organization since. Dave Matthews (right) joined the Farm Aid board in 2001. Photo: ©Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve, Inc.

Music legends Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp, along with dozens of other artists, staged the first Farm Aid concert in Champaign, Illinois in 1985 to respond to a farm economic crisis. They and fellow star Dave Matthews, who joined the Farm Aid board in 2001, have raised more $48 million to support farmers and organizations such asFamilyFarmed, with a goal to make our food supply more local, sustainable, humane and fair.


Is it Really Healthy to Eat Wisconsin Cheese?

Written by Helen Fields 8.17.2015

Health-conscious people often frown upon dairy products. Cheese is popularly viewed as being a very unhealthy option contributing little to your health. However, cheese manufacturers across the states, including here in Wisconsin, are keen to change this assumption and prove that cheese is not only good to eat, but is also an integral part of a healthy, balanced diet(1). With the increase in people with poor diets due to a misunderstanding of what constitutes a healthy intake of food – marked by the variety of wacky, celebrity-endorsed diets and increasing number of eating disorder cases in the area – the dairy industry here has taken on the responsibility of providing accurate information about the health benefits of their products. Milk, cheese, and yogurt all contain elements essential to the functioning of your body including calcium for strong bones, protein for converting carbs into energy and building muscle, and vitamin D for building strong bones and teeth. Many people think that avoiding dairy altogether is the best option for their health, however, on closer review of what your body needs, a serving of three portions of dairy a day is closer to the facts. It is vital, however, that the produce is of a high enough quality to be considered beneficial.

Continue reading

Kenyan Pastoralists Fighting Climate Change Through Food Forests

Saturday, 15 August 2015 00:00By Robert Kibet, Inter Press Service | Report

Sipian Lesan, a semi-nomadic pastoralist from Lekuru village in Samburu County, Kenya, taking care of one of his edible fruit-producing plants. (Photo: Robert Kibet/IPS)Sipian Lesan, a semi-nomadic pastoralist from Lekuru village in Samburu County, Kenya, taking care of one of his edible fruit-producing plants. (Photo: Robert Kibet/IPS)


Samburu, Kenya – Sipian Lesan bends to attend to the Vangueria infausta or African medlar plant that he planted almost two years ago. He takes great care not to damage the soft, velvety, acorn-shaped buds of this hardy and drought-resistant plant. “All over here it is dry,” says the 51-year-old Samburu semi-nomadic pastoralist.

Sipian is from Lekuru, a remote village located in the lower ranges of the Samburu Hills, an area dotted by Samburu homesteads commonly known as ‘manyattas’, some 358 km north of Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Here, the small villages are hot and arid, dominated by thorny acacia and patches of bare red earth that signify overgrazed land.

Samburu County is one of the regions in Kenya ravaged by recurrent drought, with most of the population living below the poverty line.

Climate change has made pastoralism an increasingly unsustainable livelihood option, leaving many households in Samburu without access to a daily meal, let alone a balanced diet.


Busting the Myth of the Food Desert: A Farmer’s Market in Milwaukee Sautés Statistics


THURSDAY, AUG 27, 2015, 2:53 AM

A transaction takes place at the Fondy Farmer’s Market in Milwaukee. / Google images

By any economic measure the 53206 zip code—part of a 120 block neighborhood on Milwaukee’s north side—is among Wisconsin’s most struggling. Sixty-six percent of households earn less than $30,000 per year while the number of violent crimes and the rate of unemployment rank consistently higher than state and national averages. But how’s the food?

In 2009, a Community Food Assessment (CFA) found that in this community, where 96 percent of the people are African American, 89 percent of the food retailers were comprised of “convenience stores, gas stations, fast food restaurants and food pantries.” This reality, not unlike a Slurpee®, is cold and utterly lacking vitamins. But it’s not uncommon in low-income urban areas. Neither, of course, are the disproportionately higher rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease—maladies empirically linked to the prolonged consumption of exactly the cuisine one encounters at convenience stores, gas stations and fast food restaurants.

Science suggests people should eat fruits and vegetables

From May to November, however, the local Fondy Farmer’s Market, now in its 97th year, operates one of the largest and most culturally diverse open-air markets in the region—connecting the 53206 community (and surrounding neighborhoods with similarly dismal access to fresh produce) to 30 local farmers.


Agroecology as a Tool for Liberation: Transforming Industrial Agriculture in El Salvador

Sunday, 16 August 2015 00:00By Beverly Bell, Other Worlds | Interview

 Beverly Bell interviewed Miguel Ramirez, National Coordinator of the Organic Agriculture Movement of El Salvador, about agroecology as a tool for liberation. An edited transcript of Ramirez’s replies appears below.

Miguel Ramirez training family farmers on seed bank management. (Photo courtesy of MAOES)Miguel Ramirez training family farmers on seed bank management. (Photo courtesy of MAOES)Beverly Bell interviewed Miguel Ramirez, National Coordinator of the Organic Agriculture Movement of El Salvador, about agroecology as a tool for liberation. An edited transcript of Ramirez’s replies appears below.

We say that every square meter of land that is worked with agro-ecology is a liberated square meter. We see it as a tool to transform farmers’ social and economic conditions. We see it as a tool of liberation from the unsustainable capitalist agricultural model that oppresses farmers.

We in the Organic Agriculture Movement see the soil as Mother Earth, a living organism, which gives birth to all kinds of life. Mother Earth is agonizing, and needs to be rescued. Even a new small plot of land under organic management is part of the effort to revive her.

We now have around 3,700 small local producers who are educated and working on organic agriculture in El Salvador. We’re just about one percent of all small producers, but 15 or 20 years ago we had no organic agriculture.

Our territory is made up of just 20,000 square kilometers, with 70 percent of the territory dedicated to agriculture. The challenge is to keep winning over new farmer families that will re-convert to organic farming and liberate the land.

For 60 years, Salvadoran peasants have been marginalized and impoverished by the agro-industrial model [chemically dependent, large-scale, corporate-controlled agribusiness], which is based on resource and human exploitation. Today, peasants in El Salvador, as throughout Latin America, are living in a system of semi-slavery and are subjected to expensive and toxic technology that doesn’t belong to them.


New Sugar Beet Store Sweetens Chicago’s Food Co-op Scene

by Bob Benenson, FamilyFarmed

Chicago has been something of a laboratory for the rise of the Good Food movement. Farmers markets have boomed since the late 1990s, when the city’s Green City Market made local and regional food the standard. Interest in Good Food was boosted by a major presence of Whole Foods Marketstores, which has been supplemented by other retailers who emphasize natural and organic products. Top chefs elevated “farm to table” from a trend to mainstream.

Yet there has been one element of the movement that has been largely missing in Chicago: food cooperatives, which invite members of the public to buy ownership shares and have a say in how the stores are run and what products they stock. For the past five years, the only food co-op in the Chicago region has been Dill Pickle Food-Co-op in the city’s Logan Square neighborhood.

Until now, that is. Sugar Beet Food Co-op, located just west of the city in suburban Oak Park, held its Grand Opening last Friday (Aug. 14).

Sugar Beet Food Co-opAnd the store — which actually first opened its doors to the public two weeks earlier with its shelves stocked heavily with locally and sustainably produced foods — is the first in what bodes as an unprecedented boom in this region. If all goes as planned, the number of food co-ops in the Chicagoland region will jump to six within the next few years.


More Americans Support Farm-To-School Programs

Christine Rushton, USA TODAY, August 18, 2015

Americans agree that food from local farms belongs in school cafeterias.

Nearly nine out of 10 people want to see an increase in farm-to-school food programming in the U.S., according to national survey results released Tuesday. The poll — commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation — asked 1,200 adults across the country for their opinions on school nutrition standards and healthy food educational programs.

Along with a desire to improve water drinking habits, the overall results showed more confidence in the quality of public school meals and support for increasing government funding.

The National Farm to School Network reports that about 23 million students currently learn about where their food comes from through activities with local farms.

“Farm to school not only has a significant impact on building a generation of healthy eaters, but also creates economic opportunities for farmers,” said Anupama Joshi, executive director of Farm to School. “It is so exciting to see the broad public support for this win-win approach.”

Patrick Simpson, director of food, health and well-being for Kellogg, said people continue to develop a stronger sense of what is healthy. And farm-to-table programs help more than the students.

“It creates healthier school meals, teaches children about healthy education and creates a market for small farmers,” Simpson said.


Are Hospital Farms the Next Big Thing in Healthcare Reform?

By on July 21, 2015

When it comes to improving the food on today’s hospital trays, some medical institutions are finding that onsite farms are the next logical step.

This summer, St. Luke’s Hospital started sending all new moms home from the hospital with a basket of fresh produce, recipes, and literature about the importance of a healthy diet.

All of the produce in the basket was grown on an organic farm on the hospital’s Anderson campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The hospital—part of a six-campus network—has been running a farm on the 500-acre grounds since 2014.

“Our mission is to provide great healthcare and part of that is educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet,” explains Ed Nawrocki, president of the Anderson campus. “One of the best ways to do that is to lead by example and show them how delicious produce grown on our farm tastes.

But it’s not just new moms who benefit from the hospital’s bounty. In its first season, the farm at St. Luke’s grew 12 varieties of vegetables on five acres, producing 44,000 pounds of produce that was served to patients, incorporated into the cafeteria menu, and sold at weekly farmers’ markets on several hospital campuses. This year, the farm expanded to 10 acres and 30 varieties of fruits and vegetables.

Mark “Coach” Smallwood, executive director at the Rodale Institute, the nonprofit organization that worked with St. Luke’s to help get its  farm off the ground, believes there is a growing interest in serving organic, locally grown produce at hospitals.