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Many C.R.A.F.Ty Things Happening

By Shelbie Blank, Farmer Training Program Assistant

February 28th CRAFT members gathered at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, Wisconsin for the annual CRAFT Open Meeting! The drive in was absolutely gorgeous, blue skies, sunny, clear roads, it felt like a real road trip. This was my first time at Michael Fields and is it a beautiful place, I can only imagine how much more magical it is without snow.

The morning started off with a panel discussion with five farmers from all sizes and types of farms. Panelist participants included:

  • John Breslin from Breslin Farms (Edible beans, beans for seeds)
  • David Cleverdon, Kinnikinnick Farm (direct-to-restaurant vegetable sales, livestock)
  • Matt Sheaffer, Sandhill Family Farms (meat, vegetables, CSA)
  • Clare Schaecher, Mike & Clare's Farm (vegetables, CSA)
  • Ryan Albinger, Glacier Meadow Grass Farm LLC (dairy, organic corn and soybeans)

   The hour discussion was packed with a wealth of knowledge from a wide spectrum on “Right Sizing Your Farm.” This was a great way for anyone wondering how big or small their farm should be to gain insight from others on how they came to the size they are, or working towards the size they want to be.

    Next the day moved into a short yet detailed presentation from Sheri Doyel with Angelic Organics Learning Center and April Yuds of LotFotL Community Farm regarding the recent National Farm Beginnings Collaborative and CRAFT meeting. April Yuds represented the Upper Midwest CRAFT group at this national meeting and shared her experience with the group. She was very excited while giving details regarding her trip and expressed sincere gratitude for being able to be a part of such a wonderful gathering. Learn more about the meeting here.

     Jenny Meyer started the next segment off by going over the CRAFT budget, really getting down to business! Dominic Green (The Gentleman Farmer and AOLC Board), Tom Spaulding (AOLC ED), and Janet Gamble (Turtle Creek Gardens and AOLC Board) went over brainstorming how CRAFT can fundraise for future sustainability for the alliance. Some ideas were:

  • Tell everyone on Facebook! Like the CRAFT page, advertise it loud and proud on your Facebook and/or website!
  • More social events with a fundraiser spin
  • Local food dinner events with local businesses and chefs
  • Everyone should have a Facebook presence, Like AOLC and CRAFT pages and share their posts
  • Paddle Auction –buying a program idea, ex) a $1,000 bid will allow CRAFT to have 10 field days
  • And more! (Do you have any ideas? Email me at

They also asked if anyone would like to be a 2014 CRAFT Steering Committee member or an Angelic Organics Learning Center board member, are you interested? Let me know at

    After a great lunch filled with good food and conversation the Recordkeeping Workshop commenced! Amber Gribben, a QuickBooks specialist from Chicago, went into detail on how to use QuickBooks effectively for a farm business. She has worked with two CRAFT farms in the past. Also, Jeanie McKewan, a CRAFT farmer and owner of Brightflower Farm, walked everyone through how she uses QuickBooks to manage her farm's finances, and how she made some key business decisions by analyzing her QuickBooks reports at the end of the year.

    Overall, it was an informative day; lighthearted, and brewing with good conversations and of course food! Looking forward to the new upcoming growing season filled with exciting CRAFT field days and special events!

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