HUGE NEWS! We were awarded Rick Bayless’ Frontera Farmer Foundation grant!!1
What a day. It started out with the usual daily chores; feed and water the chickens inside, feed and water the birds outside, let the dogs out to do chores with us and walk them around the property and then finish whatever coffee is left over from the morning brew and figure out where to go next. Maria headed to the barn to seed more tomato trays, and Maria’s Dad (Terry) and I headed to the bee hives to take measurements for more hive stands since all of our hives over-wintered successfully and that, hopefully, should mean twice as many hives this Spring/Summer.
As we walked into the garage, we saw Maria talking on the phone but we had no idea who she was talking to. A few minutes later, she came into the garage, completely overwhelmed by something…but what? Obviously, given the title of this post, she was reacting to the fact that we had just received a phone call informing us that we were awarded a grant from Rick Bayless’ Frontera Farmer Foundation. If you don’t know who Rick Bayless is, you probably don’t live in the Midwest or watch any Foodie TV. He’s an incredibly influential force in the local food movement in general, but he is extremely well known in the Midwest for his food and for everything he does in the ‘food’ world. He also won Season 1 of Top Chef Masters. About ten years ago, he and his wife started the Frontera Farmer Foundation, and here’s why:
“The Frontera Farmer Foundation was established in 2003 to attract support for small Midwestern farms. Rick and Deann Bayless, founders of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, along with the restaurants’ staff, created the Foundation out of their concern for struggling farmers and the importance of local produce to the vitality of Chicago’s culinary culture. Small local farms promote biodiversity by planting a wide range of produce, are more likely to operate using organic practices, and add immeasurably to the fabric of their communities. By their artisanal approach to agriculture, these farmers insure the highest quality of food.
Nonprofit organizations devoted to the growth of sustainable farming are becoming more prevalent and necessary due to the increasing dominance of large corporations in the agricultural sector. Without small sustainable farmers, great local cuisine is unreachable.”
To make a long story short, we are going to use the grant to raise ducks for the Chicago market. The grant will help us set up infrastructure on the farm specifically for raising ducks. Any grant is an amazing contribution to our farm’s progress (thank you DATCP for this website and NRCS for our high tunnel!!), but this grant will also put a big spotlight on what we are doing here in Central Wisconsin. We hope that it will also help to draw greater attention to our friends and fellow farmers in the region who are farming in organic, sustainable, and/or environmentally friendly methods and raising their animals with the most humane and ethical practices. We are happy and proud to be associated with them all, and there are too many to list them here but please feel free to contact us if you think we can steer you in the direction of things you want that we don’t have (or have closer to wherever you are in Wisconsin). Of course there are also those outside of the farming world who are supporting the local food movement in so many other ways. For instance, if you’re not already familiar with Farmshed, please check out their website. We have worked with them for a while now, and we’re getting more and more involved each year because they and everyone working with them are doing some amazing things in our area, and a lot of cool stuff is in the pipeline as well. People in Central Wisconsin should be excited! I (Chris) am also very involved with the Wisconsin Local Food Network, which is a big umbrella for everything we’re talking about…..but I digress.
It’s pretty amazing that the first ‘real’ post I make on our website is about winning this grant. We are very, very, VERY excited about beginning to work with the Chicago market, and we are extremely thankful to Rick Bayless and everyone who works for his foundation for the incredible opportunity they’ve given us. We will really be able to use the grant to do bigger and better things for everyone—–in all of our markets. As more information comes out, we’ll be sure to share it with you here.
Thanks for being a part of our adventure too! You are a MAJOR part of what has got us to this point, and we hope you’re as excited about this as we are : ) We definitely could not have done this without you.
Chris and Maria