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LotFotL's Farm Adventure

In Elkhorn Wisconsin, Tim Huth’s farm, LotFotL (Living Off The Fat Of The Land) Community Farm, is wrapping up its 11th year of production. LotFotL raises organically-fed and pastured hogs, grows organic vegetables and row crops plus obtains and distributes many different natural and organic foodstuffs. These goods are then distributed via a 150 member CSA and an additional 50 through their ‘Choice CSA program,’ which allows members to customize their CSA box to fit what works for them. The vision for LotFotL hasn’t changed much over the years, but their business model has morphed. 

Tim became interested in farming when he was a junior in college. “I had the fortune of meeting many organic farmers through classes, and as suppliers for a grocery store I worked at. This coincided with my schooling, which shifted my paradigm greatly in respects to my appreciation of the greater-than-human natural world.” It was this experience and education that led him to developing his farm name, LotFotL, which is an acronym for Living Off the Fat of The Land. For Tim, it means living harmoniously with the land and giving back to the land what you take from it.

 This has been one of the most difficult vegetable cropping seasons Tim’s faced yet. In addition, he lost several hogs early-on due to illness. On the upside, they still provided for their CSA members and the corn is looking good. Tim says that overall, he’d “give this year a 78%, or a B-” but he’s optimistic about the future. “Our goal is to feed 100 families through our Choice CSA program next year. In 5 years, we hope to have more than one truck on the road running this program, to reach out to Madison and Chicago.” With their Choice CSA Program, members can choose a box---meatless, produce only, or full spectrum--and then customize what goes in that box. The full spectrum box includes products locally sourced from producers in the southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois region--and it’s changing the way LotFotL operates.

Because regular CSA shares have declined, Tim rolled out the more customizable program in hopes of offering a better deal to the consumer. “The program allows members to essentially take what they need for the week to feed their families from a wide range of foodstuffs. Anything edible in this program has value,” Tim said about the Choice CSA program. This customization also takes pressure off Tim to produce a certain amount of one kind of item, since there’s no set amount of that item that needs to be spread throughout all their CSA boxes. This  “[allows a] much deeper relationships between eaters and growers, and has greatly reduced wasted plantings and left-behind crops.” Furthermore, the Choice CSA program has increased profitability on Tim’s farm and he says it will likely become the backbone of his farm business.

Through the best of times and worst of times, Tim hasn’t been on this farm journey alone, he has been an Upper Midwest CRAFT member since 2010. Throughout the years, CRAFT has provided Tim with education and networking opportunities, “CRAFT is the best group of farmers I have encountered. Its broad range of focus coupled with more in depth offerings make it valuable to anyone who participates in it.” Farming is rewarding work that allows Tim to remain in a close relationship with the land and his community, but it’s also full of challenges, which Tim enjoys solving.

The education and networking opportunities within Upper Midwest CRAFT helped Tim navigate what he calls the “Choose Your Own Adventure-iness” of farming, “Right around the corner on any farm is the next dragon's lair, pack or orcs, or magic mirror. Every decision brings back a report card, in real time. The longer you play this game, maybe the more adept you get.” For Tim, being a farmer is only half the fun, “...being alive in a world that is far bigger than you, is really exciting (and frustrating…).” When asked why exactly he farms and why he chooses to play this game of “Choose Your Own Adventure,” Tim simply replies, “what else would I do?”

Want to learn more about Upper Midwest CRAFT? Click here: https://learngrowconnect.org/craft or email AJ Boucek, Farmer Training Program Assistant, at grow@learngrowconnect.org