There’s something special happening in the Driftless Area south of Osseo, Wisconsin. Tucked among the gently rolling hills is a little farm called St. Isisdore’s Mead where a herd of 15 jersey cows graze and produce milk for nearby Castle Rock Dairy. Inside the farmhouse is a production of a different sort. That’s where Joe Maurer edits together video segments for the new food and farming show Around the Farm Table.
My own food and farming adventure began in August when Joe and the show’s host Inga Witscher (who also happens to be Joe’s wife) invited me to a taping at the neighbor’s farm. The premise; show up for an end-of-summer Village Fête with yard games, a pastured poultry dinner and cocktails. What better way to spend a summer afternoon in Wisconsin?
Upon arrival, I poured from one of the Lazy Monk Brewery growlers and proceeded to investigate the hundred-year-old barn that would serve as our dining hall. A small camera crew, directed by Inga’s father Rick, framed shots of the guests that had gathered.
Dinner was late. But not a single person seemed to notice because we were enveloped in hearty stories and new experiences. Which is exactly what you can expect when Around the Farm Table airs this November. Each episode purposefully introduces viewers to Wisconsin’s small-scale food producers and delivers forgotten stories and recipes with a dose of entertainment. As I experienced the making of an episode, I had the pleasure of meeting pumpkin seed oil producers Jay and Ken while playing yard games I’d never heard of. Kubb, it turns out, is big in the Eau Claire area. And, who knew Wisconsin was home to the first pumpkin seed oil? Well, I do now…and it’s great on popcorn
Each episode of Around the Farm Table is filled with these little surprises. As you watch, you’ll feel like you’re on a culinary road trip through Wisconsin, only instead of passing by the farm land at 60 mph you get to drop in and see what’s happening in the fields and barns.
A few weeks after the fête, I joined Joe, Inga and Rick for another day of filming at Driftless Organics. That day, I learned that navigating the labyrinth of county roads in our state can lead to some delightful experiences. I experienced one of the state’s largest CSAs and learned how they’re experimenting with growing flowers in the rows of produce to attract more pollinators. You’ll get the opportunity to tour Driftless in the episode “Counting Sheep” in which the crew also stumbles upon trout streams and, you guessed it, a sheep farm.
When Joe and Inga invited me to the farm table it set off a chain of memorable events. I discovered my new favorite popcorn topping and became a pro at a unique yard game that doubles as a great conversation piece. I indulged in an outstanding Wisconsin blue cheese, and found the courage to cut a whole chicken into pieces and make use of every part. But most important, I learned how to slow down, stop and appreciate the labor of love that goes into the food and drink that’s produced here in Wisconsin.
Now, let me extend the invitation to you. Gather with us “Around the Farm Table” by watching the premiere episode below.