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Farm To Fork Wyoming Blog
Coming to Fruition

Since coming to Wyoming PBS in 2011 I've thought that a farm/food show would be a great thing to create in Wyoming... Read more...

Coming to Fruition

Coming to Fruition

5/13/13

Since coming to Wyoming PBS in 2011 I’ve  thought that a farm/food show would be a great thing to create in Wyoming, but it wasn’t clear that enough was happening in the local food subculture to make a series….  So I worked on Wyoming Chronicle with Geoff O’Gara and Richard Ager for a couple years and, along the way,  I gradually discovered an abundance of great stories across Wyoming – talented chefs and deep thinking, deep digging farmers.  The last “kicker” for this idea to come to fruition came during my trip to LocalFest 2012 in Pinedale. Now, we seem to be underway. Having aired the Pilot episode of Farm to Fork Wyoming, we've gotten some great feedback and the real work now begins!

 

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Season Two is under way!

We have some interviews 'in the can' and have posted a couple of 'Web exclusive' Keynote speeches by Frederick Kirshenmann and Ken Meter! Read more...

Season Two is under way!

It has been a busy summer and fall has come to it’s second and final ending. Content for Season 2 has been going ‘in the can’ as we say in ‘film speak’. That is to say, we have been filming for various episodes and have a few hours of interviews now, most of which are with experts in sustainable agriculture and food systems. You can see the two keynote speeches from Sheridan’s Living and Working on the Land Conference. The Speakers were Frederick Kirschenmann and Ken Meter. Interviews with them will be part of the season ahead. You can see Ken in the first episode of Season Two, School Lunch, which premiered in October.

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The Makings of Season 2 of Farm to Fork Wyoming

The first year of Farm to Fork Wyoming covered some cornerstone topics in the emerging local food supply, you can stream season 1 episodes from this Blog's home page. Now, there are many layers to this ever evolving tale, Read more...

The Makings of Season 2 of Farm to Fork Wyoming

The first year of Farm to Fork Wyoming covered some cornerstone topics in the emerging local food supply, you can stream season 1 episodes from this Blog's home page. Now, there are many layers to this ever evolving tale, and it’s great to see these stories about Wyoming’s ‘local’ food and agricultural communities being told under the Wyoming PBS umbrella! To learn more about how we plan to fund the year ahead visit our crowd funding page.

How we look at the food on our plates is such a dynamic issue today. As we struggle to reconcile obesity and other food and lifestyle related problems we begin to see how our food choices also impact our farm communities and the far reaching environmental consequences of today's agricultural choices - not to mention the economic and food safety consequences of an increasingly centralized food system.

The way farmers adapt and respond to the predicaments they have faced economically and ecologically is perhaps the most fascinating part of this story for me. The more I understand about the issues driving and shaping the niche ‘local food’ part of agriculture, the more I see our American culture (and youth) being energized and awakened with profoundly renewed values and life choices.

Looking ahead to season 2 for Farm to Fork Wyoming, I’ve been talking to farmers and local food advocates like Bonnie Gregory of Sheridan, Terri & Lloyd Craft of Worland, Rod Morrison of Powell, Mike and Cindy Ridenour of Yoder, Scott Richard and Chef Jake Scott of Cody… In the process, I’ve discovered vibrant communities full of provocative thinkers and visionaries coalescing in Wyoming and igniting the next level of a locally connected food system. Innovative consumer/farmer connections are being forged, enabling artisans, families and food service professionals to secure nutritious locally grown foods. Farmers who have been sacrificing their personal resources to solve the challenges of feeding their neighbors are beginning to see the potential for making a living from their wholesome approach to food production. This viability is happening in part because consumers are beginning to see the importance of not just seeking out the cheapest of foods, but paying more of the real cost to have quality regional foods for their families.

Here are some stories I want to share in the year ahead:

Shoshone River CSA - How one young farmer has transformed a depleted salts and rock laden dairy grounds into a fertile vegetable farm using a good measure of biodynamic practices. Scott Richard is now producing weekly shares for 80+ families in addition to two farmer’s markets, and weekly commercial harvests for the Whole Foods Trading Company grocer and Willow Fence Tea Room, among others.

Sheridan County School District 1 - Getting local foods into the 2014-15 school lunch program. After years of deliberation over budgets and deficits, federal nutrition guidelines and a jigsaw puzzle of ill-fitted standards, Sheridan County School District 1 ultimately abandoned the whole federal lunch program - subsidies, rules and all - on the belief that they could feed their students at a higher, more flavorful and nourishing standard than the federal ‘one size fits all’ model. Sourcing locally, they’ve partnered with Holliday Family Farms to provide salad bar produce and Master’s Ranch to supply beef.

Nationally known leaders in local food systems - There are some fascinating thought leaders visiting Wyoming in the year ahead. We’ll seek out global and national perspectives on rural food systems and agriculture through interviews with people like Fred Kirschenmann and Ken Meter to help illuminate season 2 of Farm to Fork Wyoming. Fred Kirschenmann and Ken Meter are the Keynote speakers for the ‘Living and Working on the Land’ conference Sept 3rd and 4th, 2014 in Sheridan.

There is much more in the works for Season 2,  from locally raised and processed poultry to permaculture, apple orchards, Wyomatoes and certified organics in Wyoming. Since we rely on funding from viewers to make the shows you find on Wyoming PBS possible, we will be embarking on a new funding strategy with Farm to Fork Wyoming. While Public Television and Radio are considered pioneers of ‘crowdfunding’, online crowdfunding is something completely new to us - but it’s an idea we like! So in September we will launch our first Farm to Fork Wyoming Indiegogo funding campaign.

Like all of our local programs on Wyoming PBS, we have built  Farm to Fork Wyoming around the interests of our viewers, rather than marketing appeal for products and industry. We are here to bring you the lesser known thoughts and workings around Wyoming. We certainly welcome the support of our business and industry communities, but are inviting this support  through our crowd sourcing campaign. We invite everyone to join this ‘people powered’ approach to making this show possible!

So help us make this next season of Farm to Fork Wyoming fulfill its promise. When you visit our Indiegogo campaign you’ll find great perks for your support and you can see how your dollars will be spent. Your support will help the Wyoming PBS team explore and share the rural landscapes and communities of Wyoming and ensure thought provoking and informative content -  and maybe, we can get an extra episode or two out! Not to mention, more online exclusive content.

Visit this blog often as our season develops and unfolds! We love to share the artistry of farmers, chefs and food artisans with their appreciation and insights into beautiful Wyoming produced food.

 

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Beekeeping in Wyoming

Here's a blog post about the Bryant family- Beekeepers out of Worland- I featured them in a Wyoming Chronicle episode back in January 2012- They have an interesting story- Read more...

Beekeeping in Wyoming

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When you discover a family business in Worland that claims it has the largest work force in the State, it peaks your curiosity. I was intrigued by Bryant Honey and the beekeeping trade. Like most people I had heard of the alarming die offs faced by beekeepers over the past few years.  And the fundamental importance of bees to the abundant crops enjoyed by farmers and consumers across the country. Yes, industrial revolution, chemical technology (and migrant labor) all make essential contributions, but thanks to the diligent attention of hard working beekeepers around the world, every third bite we take is attributed to the pollination of a bee from a commercial beekeeper’s colony.

Meet Don Bryant and his sons, a passionate, good-humored family who have taken their share of blows in the trade. But like many beekeepers, they are hard-wired to face the challenge of adversity, pulling together to beat the odds. After spending a day with them shooting this short feature for Wyoming Chronicle, it was clear they are well armed with an appetite for innovation and shared commitment.

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There’s a deep calling that rises in those who spend time tending bees. Most of the keepers in America today are direct descendants of beekeeping great, great grandfathers. In America, many of the nearly two thousand small beekeeping businesses are on their 4th (and hopefully 5th) generation. Most today though, are seeing the present generation move on, answering the call of the modern world- un-interested in bees. With certain adversity in the trade, there’s little incentive to follow the family tradition…

When I heard that Wyoming produced some of the finest honey in the country I started pestering Larry Krause of Wind River Honey, another Wyoming Beekeeper, with questions. I discovered a romantic profession that seems to cultivate a steady, attentive kind of mind, guided by deep knowledge and patience. Four generations of trial and error and hard work yields a strong intuition that comes from working with something as familiar as breathing. This is a unique livelihood; harnessing a stinging, swarming, yet brilliantly social force of nature. Tied to the rhythms of nature, beekeeping is naturally punctuated by risk and adversity. They tend an intricate piece of the agricultural world where the winds of adversity seem to blow from every direction. Beekeepers today must gauge the consequences that modern technology, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, mono-cultures, and GMO’s might have on their narrowing and specialized gene pool of livestock- the bees….

CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) continues to inflict dire consequences on this tireless yet aging industry. Yet talking to Larry Krause and Don Bryant, you sense a different rhythm and intricacy to the world. It’s hard not to want to enter the meditative spell that calls one to look at the landscape through the eyes of a bee. Their lives seem to be perpetual motion – as Larry Krause puts it, they've become Bedouin Beekeepers, as they move with their livestock across the land.

Annother very interesting beekeeper with much to say on the subject of CCD, and who has been ardent in his effort to raise awareness on the matter, pointing to the disfunction, as he sees it, in our regulatory and corporate institutions is Tom Theobold, here's a link he shared regarding questions around a certain class of chemical sprays:

http://www.grist.org/article/food-2011-01-20-the-beekeeper-who-kicked-the-epas-nest-speaks

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Beekeeping - Nature or Nurture???

Bees are the subject of our next Farm to Fork Wyoming episode. This is a topic that has long interested me and I know I'm not alone there. Read more...

Beekeeping - Nature or Nurture???

Beekeeping - Nature or Nurture???

4/2/14

Bees are the subject of our next Farm to Fork Wyoming episode. This is a topic that has long interested me and I know I’m not alone there. Over the past few years, I have spoken with a few Wyoming beekeepers and they are an intriguing bunch. Back in 2011 I did a short story for Wyoming Chronicle featuring the Bryant family, a Wyoming beekeeping family now in their fourth and fifth generations in Worland. They are one of the largest, if not the largest beekeepers in the State. They remain profitable thanks to pollinating crops in Northern California and then returning their hives to Wyoming and part of Nebraska each year for honey production. I had the pleasure of tasting some of their sunflower honey and I will never forget the wonderful spicy, deeply caramel flavor. I wished I’d dropped my savings on a caseload of that stuff right then and there. I would love to try that stuff on my pancakes and in my coffee!

The Bryants  are blessed with a deep pool of knowledge and energy thanks to Don Bryant’s 2 sons Brandon and Brady, now taking active roles in the business. Brady returned to employ his business skills sharpened after 4 years of study at the University of Wyoming, and Brandon has brought queen bee breeding knowledge which he gained while working in 2007 at Kona Queens, a breeder in Hawaii. While Brendon worked there a team of scientists gathered from around the world, since this was  “the worlds leading producer of quality queen bees”, and as fate would have it, became one of the ‘nerve centers’ for debate and investigation into the cause of, and solutions for dealing with the massive 2007 Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) outbreaks in the US that year. Now the Bryants try to mitigate the threat of colony disease and die offs with the help of their own Queen Bee breeding business and advanced hive tracking software that Brady employs. They have a great website where you can learn more about their family and their products. http://www.bryanthoney.com/

Another especially interesting beekeeper I’ve met is Dennis Morrell, of Casper. For the hobbyist, Dennis has created a wonderful blog that is as useful as it is moving and delightful to explore. A Wyoming native, Dennis has a deep appreciation for the richness and challenges of Wyoming. His youthful fascination for bees led him to a job with the Krauss’ - another generational family of beekeepers out of Riverton. After decades of commercial beekeeping, Dennis decided, rather than dull his love for beekeeping by continuing it commercially, he would continue as a hobbyist- sharing his knowledge mostly through his blog and occasional gatherings. There you can find information about beekeeping unique to Wyoming, read up on different hive designs and even find answers to questions about hive designs suitable for someone confined to a wheelchair. Dennis’ focus is on natural beekeeping and reports in the benefits of probiotics in the health of his colony among many other well researched and tested thoughts on the subject of natural bee health.

I tried my best to persuade Dennis to be part of the coming bee episode but sadly, he declined, wishing to limit his public life to his blog… I regret his choice, but who could argue that his time is well spent on that blog; it’s a revered resource amongst those who use it.

Read his meditations on natural beekeeping and I bet you’ll be hooked.

http://talkingstick.me/bees/about-bee-natural-guy/

I am happy to say that for the bee episode, I was so fortunate to sit down with another generational Wyoming Beekeeper, and someone countless people have referred me to on the subject of bees, Jack States - and I can see why. Jack’s love for bees is so infectious. How many times he must have looked upon a comb and saw eggs, and yet still, in his 70’s (I’m guessing) he jumps for joy at the sight. It’s great, and with degrees in science and biology, he makes a keen study of his passion. His wife Diantha shares his love of nature and is a botanist. The two of them together have cultivated a paradise on the parcel they’ve retained from what was once a huge ranch in beautiful Sinks Canyon. Diantha’s pollinator flower beds are astonishing and the old varieties of apple they harvest for the farmers market each summer are a marvelous testimony to the benefits of having a few happy colonies of bees around.

The Farm to Fork Wyoming - Beekeeping episode is still in the works and is slated to air in July.

In the mean time, if you are in the Lander area this weekend, April 5th, come find us at the Farm to Fork Wyoming/Wyoming PBS booth during this hugely popular Garden and Outdoor Living Expo. It is located in the Field House at Lander Valley High School from 9am - 3pm.

We’ll be showing off some of Jack’s beekeeping tools and a hive observation box where you can see the bees hard at work and safely under glass!

Hope to see you there!

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To the Power of Twelve!

We finally sat down with Bobby and Brendan Thoman for a more in-depth interview about their evolution into cattle, or as they say, their journey "Back to the Future". Read more...

To the Power of Twelve!

To the Power of Twelve!

1/4/14

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We finally sat down with Bobby and Brendan Thoman for a more in-depth interview about their evolution into cattle, or as they say, their journey “Back to the Future”. Cattle and livestock was their family legacy until around 1995, when a crash in the cattle market led their folks to sell the cattle operation and focus on alfalfa/hay production. Somehow, market dynamics made their hay too valuable to feed to their own cattle. They have some prime irrigated land near Riverton.

But cycles turn, and the next generation has come online with new energy and vision.

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Generation 4 of the Thoman/Peternal legacy in Wyoming agriculture - Bobby and Brendan - have brought cattle back to the ranch. With sharp pencils and meticulous thinking honed by their two degrees in engineering, they have analyzed the pros and cons of cattle production today and put one foot in front of the other, or rather, perhaps the cow in front of the bull…. They are deciphering their own approach to an economically viable grass fed cattle operation, one that truly looks back to the wisdom of predecessors for guidance into the future. They have simplified the inputs - grain is eliminated and tractors and cut hay are minimized as the cows graze their way to finished weight through an elegant management of pasture, animal and nutrient. A natural system that avoids grains. So no GMO’s, chemicals, hormones, fertilizers or antibiotics. They are not opposed to these things, they just trust in and are seeing the virtue of good grass fed cattle lineage, and providing quality natural elements all animals need, like trace minerals and salts and free access to varietal forage. You’ll have to watch the episode - it’s interesting to hear about the gains they’ve made with basic stuff that any of us could look to for good health..

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But the best part of the day, I have to say was the incredible meal! We got fed - again. As if with a family of twelve, they didn’t have enough mouths to feed, they made room for us too. Two giant, long tables were pushed together to make a 25 foot long family gathering. We got to feast on Lost Wells grass fed beef - heart, tongue and roast all beautifully cooked in a smoking grill. Wow, great flavors. We sat down with what I’m guessing was at least 14 other Thomans and listened, drop-jawed as our food turned cold, to countless, hilarious stories…. Or was it 12 versions of the same story? I’m not sure but I got totally lost in all the calf chasing, roping and escaping that resulted from one neighbors rogue rodeo bull. It seems a few calves were born to the Thoman herd after this mean and randy bull busted down a fence to get at their cows. He was a productive bull, and his offspring was just as athletic as he. Every one of the Thoman boys seemed to have a more outrageous fiasco than the last to share about tangling with one of these crazy half Brahma, half Angus calves.

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We are aiming to premiere this episode in February 2014. Next shoot will be with Matt Sissman, part owner of the Middle Fork Restaurant in Lander. He expects to open a dinner restaurant by the name of ‘Sego’ across the street from the Middle Fork, anticipated for February some time. For this grass fed beef episode Matt plans to introduce us to beef Bresaola - an artisan dry cured beef, much like prosciutto.

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If you want to explore more about the Thoman operation, they have a very intersting Lost Wells Cattle Company website, I especially appreciate the “News” link here.

http://www.lostwellscattle.com/

The Middle Fork also has a website if you want to learn more about Matt and his partners. They try to feature local foods as much as possible, and I imagine their new restaurant will carry a similar ethic. We’ll learn more when we catch up with Matt for our final shoot of the Grass Fed Beef episode.

http://themiddleforklander.com/

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CSA's Wyoming Style

Annie Scott shrugged off the unseasonably hard and early snowfall that buried her garden in Lander in late September. Read more...

CSA's Wyoming Style

CSA’s Wyoming Style

10/13/13

 

Annie Scott shrugged off the unseasonably hard and early snowfall that buried her garden in Lander in late September.

 

A veteran of many years of leading others through the wilderness by foot and paddle, she’s obviously in tune with the fickleness of nature. Her backyard CSA crop was already double insulated against the fallout of 4 to 6 inches of heavy September snow.

 

I had just bought 40 lbs of canning tomatoes from Annie the week before. While things froze outside, I chose a more controlled indoor freezing method for preserving the harvest. I remembered my grandmother telling me she liked to freeze her tomatoes whole and make her sauces and stews with them as needed, straight from the freezer - the skins slip off easily. So I have done the same, it can’t get simpler than that, barring freezer failure.

But back to Annie- with two little ones, not yet in school, urban farming is her stay-at-home job. I’m thinking this may be more than full time, having produced nearly 2,000 lbs of tomatoes this year on top of supplying weekly produce for 15 shareholders, having a Thursday farmstand in her carport and being a regular at the Lander farmer’s markets.

I had heard an income estimate for a market garden by a stay-at-home mom, was potentially around $7,000 for the summer, not to mention the quality food put on the family table. It’s nothing short of impressive to see what Annie’s overflow produce has added to the Lander farmer’s market these past 3 or 4 years

After the second snowfall hit, 6 inches deeper than the first and only a week later, Annie’s Thursday carport market still had surplus offerings.

 

Diane Saenz and I shot a fermentation demonstration for the CSA episode after getting supplies from Annie and another local farmer, Fred Groenke.

You can stream this and other Farm to Fork Wyoming episodes by clicking on the slide show at the top of the Farm to Fork Webpage.

 

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Cats and Gophers and Community Supported Agriculture

We've just returned from our shoot at Painted Sage Farm and while Maggie may not have the largest CSA in Wyoming, correct me if I am wrong, but at over 7100 ft, she may be the highest. Read more...

Cats and Gophers and Community Supported Agriculture

Cats and Gophers and CSA’s

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We’ve just returned from our shoot at Painted Sage Farm and while Maggie may not have the largest CSA in Wyoming, correct me if I am wrong, but at over 7100 ft, she may be the highest…

http://www.paintedsagefarm.com/ or find them on facebook https://www.facebook.com/PaintedSageFarm

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There in Daniel, they pull delicacies from a veritable moonscape, though anyone who sits in sagebrush soon learns that it is far from barren and actually teeming with life - that includes gophers… and those guys will happily add tender green things to their diet. Just ask Maggie, she knows very well what they like...

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Gopher raids aside, it’s a productive existence and getting better with each new layer of compost and barricade.

At the farm during our shoot we got fed, and truthfully, that’s how I keep Matt coming on these shoots. The food was, as always, unique and adventurous. We lunched on steamed green bean filled tacos, garnished with garlic scape pesto. I was foolish enough to crown mine with the insanely hot pickled jalapeno sitting on the side…. Fortunately, relief was quickly delivered in the form of a tall glass of milk (raw milk?... Perhaps...) which I downed happily.

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Matt discovered Amanda’s fabulous Sriracha - home made the night before. He even licked the plate clean… As we left for the day, I heard arrangements being made for a mail order delivery for more. The meat free tacos were surprisingly satisfying.

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Interviewing Maggie, it became apparent that vision and the pursuit of compelling ideas is the real engine here. She and her son Holden both readily see the possibilities for growing and evolving the local food supply, even in places as small as Pinedale or Bondurant. Knowing well the limits of their growing season at 7100 ft elevation, they manage to expand and hone their crop variety year by year, finding new and novel foods common to far away cuisines and offering them along side the tried and true. Offering these foods to their CSA customers as well as chefs, stores and Farmers Market customers seems to be broadening the local palate as well as expanding their market with each season. At the end of the day at Painted Sage Farm it all seems to come down to healthy nutritious food, and educating and exposing people to what that includes is part of the equation.

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We left them their cat… It only seemed right… Somehow on the way out the door, the farm cat had attached himself to Matt, paws around Matt’s neck. It wasn’t until we were in the car and I put into gear, when to my right,  there they were - Matt and the cat seat belted and ready to go! It wasn’t easy, but I felt I had to suggest the cat might ought to stay….

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As of posting this, we are not done shooting this episode, I plan to catch up with Diane Saenz - UW Extension educator, for a lesson in fermentation at the Lloyd Craft Farm in Worland. I was fortunate to already sit down with Diane, who in her lively, descriptive way, demystified for me what I had considered to be the art of rotting vegetables. It’s far more appealing, controlled, and delicious than that! I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for the ferment… Parsnips?.... Carrots?.... Kraut with a twist?.....

Note: This episode premiered November 8th, 2013, it now re-airs from time to time but also can be watched online anytime! If you have Roku or AppleTV you will find all the streaming Farm to Fork Wyoming episodes amongst our other local documentaries. Or, you can just click on the slideshow at the top of the Farm to Fork Wyoming webpage and be taken straight to our streaming episodes that way. Enjoy!Maggie-Tour_Strawberry-taste_2Web.jpg

 

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Lessons in the Kitchen

In the course of piecing together the Farm To Fork Dairy Herd Shares episode (premiered Sept. 3 on Wyoming PBS), it came to my attention that Queso Fresco is a cheese often linked to food born illnesses, primarily from either salmonella or listeria contamination. Read more...

Lessons in the Kitchen

In the course of piecing together the Farm To Fork Dairy Herd Shares episode (premiered Sept. 3 on Wyoming PBS), it came to my attention that Queso Fresco is a cheese often linked to food born illnesses, primarily from either salmonella or listeria contamination. In Washington State, and more recently in Minnesota, small outbreaks have sent some folks to the hospital. Both times the causes were traced back to homemade Queso Fresco made with raw milk. The cheese makers were small cottage businesses, making ethnic foods for their emigrant communities.

In Washington State, Health officials realized that the cheese makers were often migrant family members seeking the traditional foods of home with no place to buy dietary staples such as Queso Fresco. Often times, as is traditional, Grandmas of the community were taking up cheese making for their families and also offering the cheese for sale within the community.

So health officials came up with a novel and very proactive approach to try to help. They came up with a safe recipe for making Queso Fresco with raw milk and launched what they called the Abuela Project, offering cheese making workshops for the community cheese makers, equipping and informing them of the problem. In exchange for the workshop and some free cheese making tools, they asked the attendees to, in turn, teach 15 others this method of making Queso Fresco. In the end they determined the project a success, illnesses linked to homemade Queso Fresco fell dramatically in the area.You can find their recipe here: http://www.foodsafety.wsu.edu/consumers/factsheet7.htm

The instructions include using pasteurized milk, thus saving a step, as well as instructions for raw milk preparation.

One distinct feature of the Abuela project's Queso Fresco recipe is that it involves carefully maintaining the milk at 140 deg. F for 20 minutes, a rather low temperature, but due to the time factor, it effectively pasteurizes the milk without adversely effecting it's flavor or ability of the milk to make a good curd.

While DeeAnne's recipe, which we show in the dairy herd share episode is much simpler, and has worked for her and her family for some time now, it's worth considering the more strict approach, especially if you are sharing your cheese with children, the elderly, pregnant women or those with compromised immunity. Conversely, some feel the whole point of making their own cheese from raw milk is to consume it in it's least adulterated state. But as Michael Pollan's book "Cooked" points out in an interview with master cheese maker and Microbiologist, Sister Noella Marcellino, traditional raw milk cheese making is steeped in ritual safeguards and tradition that the casual home cheese maker is not privy to. While being a raw milk cheese maker, Sister Noella points to the wisdom of working with pasteurized milk.

The debate continues over the issues of food safety vs. access to that which most nourishes us. It is fascinating to learn about wonderful and essential milk, in all its splendid forms, thanks to the marvelous evolution of traditional foods.

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Grass Fed Beef

We are working way ahead on a "grass-fed beef" episode that isn't likely to air till the dead of winter - but I didn't want to miss the season of green pastures since I want to focus on the cultivation of a pasture's great green biomass. Read more...

Grass Fed Beef

Thomans x 12??

6/8/13

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We are working way ahead on a “grass fed beef” episode that isn’t likely to air till the dead of winter – but I didn’t want to miss the season of green pastures since I want to focus on the cultivation of a great green biomass. I called who I thought was just a couple of brothers from Lost Wells Ranch outside of Riverton and…

Ok, let me back up and explain some confusion first. I’ve been hearing about, and running into the Thomans for a couple years now, even carrying on the thread of a conversation through these encounters- always lively and thought provoking- but each time, asking myself, now was that Bobby? Brendan? Huh?

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Turns out there are 12 Thoman siblings! 7 of them, boys. This is a family of accomplished AG producers and they seem to all be thinking and working through the possibilities for better grazing and cattle practices, in addition to their sizable alfalfa operation.

Bobby and Brendan (and maybe 3 or 4 others, I’m still not sure) have been perfecting the art of intensive grazing and soil building while economically producing what some term “Beyond Organic” grass fed beef. One place you’ll find them is selling their beef at the Riverton Farmers Market.

If you get through Riverton, you might also try some of their beef at the taco stand at the Riverton Sale Barn this summer.

If you live in Fremont County, there’s a great local food directory provided by Steve Doyle, another dairy herd share operator who we’ll feature in the late summer Dairy episode- here’s Steve’s very informative site – he updates this in his spare time, so it’s not totally up to the minute, but pretty darn helpful and interesting:

http://www.fremontlocalfoods.org/

UW Extension Agency also has a Statewide eating local project and directory, you can learn more here:

http://www.wyomingextension.org/eatwyoming/about.asp

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Life is Good on the Ranch

Life is good in this world whether you're a farm hand found through the "wwoofer" program, or a filmmaker far from the nearest hotel. Read more...

Life is Good on the Ranch

Life is Good on the Ranch

6/26/13  

Life is good in this world whether you’re a farm hand found through the WWOOFer program, or a filmmaker far from the nearest hotel.

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The Wallis’ graciously put us up, Matt got the tent, I got a bed buried in pillows, and they fed us morning, noon and night. It’s no wonder Frank has no problem keeping help around the place, and the company here is as good as the food.

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Wondering what a WWOOFer is?

http://www.wwoofinternational.org/

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Farm To Fork Wyoming
 
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No Bucha, No Thank You!

Matt, our cameraman, even discovered some new likes and dis-likes... Read more...

No Bucha, No Thank You!

No Bucha No Thank you!

6/25/13 

Matt, our cameraman, even discovered some new likes and dis-likes…

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No Bucha for Matt, that’s for sure… He was adventurous enough to try, and honest enough to say NO.

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Besides the wonderful kefirs, butter and multiple grades of cream, all prepared for a minimal service fee for the share holders, Frank makes the best Kombucha I have ever had – but if you are squeamish about the slimy little “bucha babies”(scoby), strain with your teeth. Oh, and don’t sniff before you sip. Matt may never drink Kombucha again – but I will never pass it up! Sweet, fizzy, nourishing, magical stuff.

Kombucha? There’s a pretty good article in the NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/fashion/25Tea.html

Farm To Fork Wyoming
 
Farm To Fork Wyoming
 
Farm To Fork Wyoming
 
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Going in Circles

For the farm part of the dairy episode, we found our way to the "Center of the Universe" - EZ Rocking Ranch. Read more...

Going in Circles

Going in Circles 

6/25/13  

For the Farm part of the Dairy episode, we found our way to the “Center of the Universe” – EZ Rocking Ranch. There, Frank Wallis is caught in an orbit of what his sister Sue terms “garbage in, garbage out”.

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But the product of this cycling, spinning world is anything but garbage. Frank is producing everything from heritage hogs to Kombucha. F2F-miss-piggyWeb.jpg

At the heart of this planetary system is the dairy cow.

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From that center- great things flow, starting with the abundance of milk which the cows happily provide, to the beautiful deep orange yolked eggs from chickens who chase the cows and forage the farm eating fly larvae and bugs while scattering what would be a mountain of manure, far and wide.     

Farm To Fork Wyoming
 
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Dairy Herdshares on EZ Rocking Ranch & Doyle Family Farm

We catch up with herd share manager Frank Wallis, whose herd supplies milk to 90+ Wyoming families spread from Buffalo to Sheridan and Gillette. Read more...

Dairy Herdshares on EZ Rocking Ranch & Doyle Family Farm

Dairy Herdshare on the Doyle Family Farm and EZ Rocking Ranch

6/20/13 

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We are soon to air our Dairy Herdshare episode where we catch up with herd share manager Frank Wallis, whose herd supplies milk to 90+ Wyoming families spread from Buffalo to Sheridan and Gillette. At the Wallis family's EZ Rocking Ranch beauty and nature's logic abound. We'll see how Frank keeps it all going, and learn something about the gratification of being an "Owner Certified" dairy. Interviews with Frank and his sister Sue Wallis, reveal how this very limited, but controversial relaxation of Wyoming's raw milk ban is affecting some local food and farm economies.

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We'll also sit down with nutrition expert and educator Monica Corrado to gain insight into this most dynamic of foods - raw, whole milk - and learn why customers wish to consume this ancient food, un-pasteurized, against the warnings of the USDA. We finish the episode at Steve and DeeAnne Doyle's herd share farm in Riverton to make quick and simple queso fresco.

Farm To Fork Wyoming
 
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Great Things Cooking in the Kitchen

Working through the transcripts of an interview with Certified Nutrition Consultant Monica Corrado of Simply Being Well... Read more...

Great Things Cooking in the Kitchen

Great things cooking in the kitchen-

6/19/13 

Working through the transcripts of an interview with Certified Nutrition Consultant Monica Corrado of  Simply Being Well, I’m reminded of what a magical place the kitchen really is. It’s transformative in every way - from the pot boiling on the stove top, to the conversation at the dinner table. Monica Corrado’s food focus is on the process (primarily traditional) of preparing nutrient dense foods. This involves working with “whole foods” and preparing and preserving them in traditional ways which, it turns out, greatly increases their digestibility and nutritional value. We’re talking about the simplest, time honored methods here - soaking, sprouting, fermenting and culturing.

Monica, thankfully, gave me a copy of her latest book: With Love from Grandma's Kitchen. Delightfully handy and clever, it lays out ten of the most basic techniques in preparing whole foods. These are the ancient underpinnings to traditional cooking and culinary craft. The book is the simplest of road maps back to true comfort foods - from beef and chicken stocks to dressings and marinades; ferments and cultures. This book has become an all-time favorite companion of mine. Spending time with this book is almost as delightful as a conversation with Monica.

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Monica's website - full of good info:

http://simplybeingwell.com/Home.html

So, there you have it. Monica Corrado will be one of the experts you’ll meet in the coming dairy episode of Farm to Fork Wyoming. Her knowledge of food and its function in the body is so interesting to me, I’d like to revisit her for multiple stories! For the dairy episode we talked about the virtues of whole milk and, yes, she is a huge fan of raw milk. But like most anyone who touts its virtues, she does so with the caveat that it must be from healthy, grass pasture (and hay in the wintertime) fed cows on little or no grain. So we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of such details this coming episode. We’ll explore raw milk in Wyoming – at once loved and vilified, but also exotic and essential - from the perspective of those who love it.

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Next week Matt Wright, our shooter/editor, and I will be traveling to the EZ Rocking Ranch north of Recluse to meet herd share manager Frank Wallis and some of his herd share owners, and we'll see how he gets it all done. So check back for updates on that trip.

Frank Wallis' Ranch website - so much going on there!

http://ezrocking-ranch.com/home

By the way - British Columbia Center for Disease Control just released findings, after a rigorous review, of the health risks of raw milk. You can read about that here:

http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/new-studies-confirm-raw-milk-a-low-risk-food/

And if you would like to read up on the history of milk through the ages and it’s transformation from a common local food into an institutionalized, stabilized mainstream product, Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through The Ages, by Anne Mendelson, is a great read.

Here’s a link to where you can find the book online, and, if you are a fan of Fresh Air - with Terry Gross, as I am, here’s an interview with author Anne Mendelson. But better yet, enjoy the book; it’s a fascinating read - with recipes to boot!

http://www.npr.org/2008/12/15/98264977/a-culinary-history-of-milk-through-the-ages

Farm To Fork Wyoming
 
Farm To Fork Wyoming
 
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Where to Begin? Dairy of course!

It's hard to choose amongst so many great Wyoming stories! Read more...

Where to Begin? Dairy of course!

Where to Begin? Dairy of course!

It’s hard to choose amongst so many great Wyoming stories! But with summer getting underway and some great feedback on our pilot episode of Farm to Fork Wyoming, it is time to plot a course and choose the stories for season one.

Thanks to Maggie McAllister for another great LocalFest 2013 in Pinedale back in May, the second episode of Farm to Fork Wyoming was a no brainer.

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As organizer of Sublette County’s annual LocalFest, Maggie brought in Sally Fallon Morrell, a rather famous and tireless advocate for nutrient dense traditional foods.

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If you don’t know who Sally Fallon Morrell is, it doesn’t take long to discover, she is no stranger to controversy. As the founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and The Campaign for Real Milk, she has worked long and hard to redeem raw milks’ battered reputation. - I don’t want to confound you with science and nutrition, but the story of milk is a fascinating one. You can learn more about the debate over what is best and decide for yourself:

Some resources on food safety and raw milk:

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/

http://thecompletepatient.com/

http://www.foodsafety.gov/

http://www.cdc.gov/

http://www.raw-milk-facts.com/

http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/

http://www.realmilk.com/

http://www.westonaprice.org/

But back to the planning of Farm to Fork Wyoming… Along with a wonderful Banquet and a long, very thought provoking 3 hour presentation by Sally, the LocalFest was abundant with workshops on fermentation, soil health, CSA’s  and, in my opinion, one of the most radical developments in Wyoming’s Local food economy – Herd Shares.

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Now that that language has been added to the food safety regulations in the past year, small farmers have the opportunity to offer raw milk to those who purchase a share in their dairy herds. Thus, these small, biodynamic farm operations have another revenue stream to add to their operation (and viability).

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So there’s our next episode – Emerging herd share operations in Wyoming, we’ll visit a couple of these small farms, learn a bit about what has created such a pent up demand for this most wholesome of foods, how they are making it work (and getting all the work done!) and we’ll finish the show with a peek into the ancient craft of taking milk through the culturing process to become a beloved cheese.

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Check back for more developments. Other stories on the radar range from Beekeeping to Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA’s) and the satisfaction of raising grass-fed beef on perennial grasses for the local market.

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