By NIKKI YOUNK
MARINETTE, Wis. - Purchasing and consuming local foods can lead to both economic and health benefits. However, many people may not be aware of all the local food sources that are located right in their own communities.
Theresa Proudfit/Daily News Photo
Todd Broullire of Aurora, Wis., attaches the milking machine to one of his cows. The Broullires have operated their dairy farm since 1990. The Broullire farm is one of six stops on the University of Wisconsin Extension’s upcoming local foods tour of Florence and northern Marinette counties.
That's why the University of Wisconsin Extension has decided to organize a local foods tour of six farms and orchards in Florence and northern Marinette counties.
The tour is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 26 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"We really just want people to understand what is out there," said Scott Reuss of the extension office in Marinette. "The diversity of products they can buy locally has definitely increased."
According to Reuss, there are multiple reasons to utilize local foods.
"The local economic aspect is the biggest one, keeping money local, but there can also be nutritional and price benefits for the consumer," he explained. "With in-season produce, you get it at the peak of flavor and nutrition."
Reuss has noticed an increased interest in local foods over the past few years.
He said that more producers are emphasizing direct sales to consumers and more consumers are seeking information on local producers.
There are currently 40 producers located throughout Florence, Marinette, and Oconto counties listed in the extension's home grown produce guide.
One of those producers is the Broullire farm in Aurora, Wis.
Kim and Todd Broullire have operated their dairy farm since 1990, but they only recently started to raise grass-fed beef. Although they cannot sell their milk directly from the farm, they can sell beef to any interested local consumer.
When asked about the benefits of local foods, Kim said that knowledge is power.
"You know what's going into it," she said. "If I wouldn't feed it to my family, I'm not going to feed it to anyone else."
Kim pointed out that meat in stores is often from corn-fed animals, and is higher in cholesterol, hormones, and chemicals than meat from grass-fed animals.
For Saturday's tour, the Broullires and five other local producers will open their farms and orchards to the public.
"All six farms will be open to visitors the entire time, and you are welcome to visit any or all of them in whatever order you desire," said Reuss. "In addition, each farm is hosting an in-depth discussion or workshop opportunity at the specific times listed."
Reuss has modeled the local foods tour after similar events that have proven popular in other parts of the state, particularly in Door County. He hopes to make the tour an annual occurrence.
Tour stops on Saturday include the following farms and orchards:
- Armstrong Creek Bison Co., located at 8109 County Line Road in Armstrong Creek, Wis., produces bison products, free range eggs, and some vegetables. At 9:15 a.m., the owners will be speaking about managed grazing of bison, hogs, and poultry.
- Pleasant View Orchard, located at W6050 Chapman Road in Niagara, Wis., produces tree fruits, small fruits, maple syrup, melons, pumpkins, and features an on-site bakery. At 10:15 a.m., the owners will be speaking about fruit tree pruning.
- The Broullire farm, located at 1281 Broullires Road in Aurora, produces dairy products and naturally-raised, grass-fed beef. At 11 a.m., the owners will be speaking about producing safe milk.
- Rural Girls Orchard, located at 2317 Montgomery Lake Road in Florence, Wis., produces tree fruits. At noon, the owners will be speaking about orchard management practices.
- Sunnybrook School Farm & CSA, located at 4246 Blome Helgren Road in Florence, produces vegetables, flowers, eggs, and lamb. At 12:45 p.m., the owners will be speaking about community supported agriculture and raised bed gardening.
- Florence Maple Farm & the Rock Garden, located at 4814 First Crossing Road in Florence, produces fruits, vegetables, maple products, flowers, eggs, and poultry. At 1:30 p.m., the owners will be speaking about vacuum system maple sap collection.
For more information on these farms and orchards, as well as others in Florence, Marinette, and Oconto counties, visit marinette.uwex.edu, look under the "Agriculture" heading, and click on "Guide to Locally Grown Produce."
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.