Prairie Plate: A Sustainable Restaurant

SoupThe first thing I noticed when I walked in the doors of Prairie Plate Restaurant, Waverly’s new farm-to-table restaurant, was the way the light inhabited the room, drawing you to the lake view that lay just beyond the windows.

Renee Cornett, head chef and owner of Prairie Plate, greets me at the door and begins to dive into the history of the land. She and her husband, Jerry Cornett, run Lakehouse Farm, a certified organic farm situated roughly fifty yards from the front door of the restaurant. After they started their farm in 2011, they began renovations on the house down by the lake for the restaurant that would eventually open its doors on April 2, 2014.

While their setup and concept for the restaurant would lead you to believe they had lived a lifetime as farmers, their background tells a more unique story.

Renee grew up in Maryland, graduating from the US Naval Academy with a major in mathematics. She served eleven years in the US Navy, the majority as a naval aviator, before retiring in 2001 and attending culinary school at Metropolitan Community College.

Jerry hails from Omaha. He earned a degree in political science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and then joined the US Navy. Also a naval aviator, his career spanned twenty-one years, including serving as the defense attaché at the US Embassy in Albania, retiring in 2011 with the rank of commander.

When I ask them how they wound up in the farming and restaurant business, they laugh. This is not the first time someone has asked them this question.

“In some ways it doesn’t matter what you do, everybody eats,” Renee says.

She has cooked all her life—for friends, roommates, and her family, including their two children. As Jerry’s retirement approached, they were looking for the next steps. Their life in the Navy had taken them all over the world, including time spent in northern Italy. It was there that the concept of a farm-to-table restaurant formulated.

“You see concepts like this in Europe, northern Italy, even Albania,” Jerry said, “People would travel out into the country to the farm to have a meal that focused on what they grew there.”

In Italy, this concept is called agriturismo.

For the last five to six years of Jerry’s career, they would gather inspiration from restaurants around the world.

Their seasonal menu changes from week to week, depending on what is growing at that moment. Lakehouse Farm grows sixty to seventy different varieties of vegetables and fruit. The items they don’t have on their farm—primarily meat, dairy, and grains—are purchased from local farmers and suppliers. For instance, on the current week’s menu, they featured beef from Range West Beef in Marquette, pork from Erstwhile Farm in Columbus, cheese from Branched Oak Dairy in Raymond, and grains from The Grain Place in Marquette.

As she talks about the logistics of starting up a local food restaurant, Renee’s background in mathematics begins to show.

“You start doing the math. If you’re going to buy local food to start with, local products, how can you make the math work to make it so you don’t have to charge more than people want to come for? And so you start working through some of that,” she says, “I don’t have to truck it in, I know it’s fresh.”

“We want to showcase the region’s ingredients,” Jerry says

The Cornetts are also committed to running both their farm and restaurant as sustainably as possible.

“If we have choices, as much as possible, we try to pick one that’s lighter on the environment, that fits with the rest of the philosophy of what we’re doing. If we can avoid using a light fixture and use a sky light,” Renee smiles and gestures to the other room, “we did that.”

On their farm they practice sustainable farming by using drip irrigation, covered crops, contour farming, crop rotation, and a transplant system where plants begin in their greenhouse before being transplanted to the ground. Additionally, they also compost the kitchen scraps from the restaurant to mix into their soil.

So what incentive does this restaurant have that draws people up from the city?

“From the farm, through the kitchen, to your table,” Renee recites their restaurant motto, “It’s the connection to the place—food from the place—it’s closer to where it started. It’s going to taste better because of that. All the other things—it’s healthier, the economic impact, and all that—everybody is going to have their own section of that discussion that’s important to them, but the ‘tastes better’ is always important to everybody.”

Jerry took me on a tour of the farm, showed me where the food is grown, walked me around the lake as he told me more about the history of how the farm came to be. The sun was about to set, and I left with plans to return the following evening to sample the menu.

It was an even more beautiful evening when I came back. I had snagged the best table in the house, situated in a small alcove of a bay window on the southeast side of the building. This place is a birder’s paradise. Hundreds of birds swoop down, gliding a feather’s width away from the calm, pristine surface of the lake.

The restaurant’s menu is divided into courses: first course, second course, and dessert. Each course provides several options to choose from. They also offer a variety of wines and beers, as well as French press coffee from Cultiva in Lincoln.

What is most important to note about the food is the fact that no flavor is overpowering in any of the dishes. The combinations of flavors work to each other’s favor, and everything is seasoned and salted to perfection.

The Lakehouse Farm Salad is made up of whatever variety of lettuce is best on any given day. From there, Renee adds vinaigrettes and garnishes that compliment the particular type of lettuce available that day. On this particular day, it was garnished with cheese and sunflower seeds and served with slice of bread.

The asparagus and quark soup is also a specialty first course item. Quark is a soft, spreadable cheese that is most common in Germany and other areas of Europe. Branched Oak Dairy Farm provides the quark, which compliments the asparagus for a very satisfying soup. It is garnished with a slice of bread and a halved asparagus tip.

The wilted spinach and feta salad was my favorite of the ones I tried. The spinach was done perfectly—still slightly crunchy but wilted just enough to add that warm spinach flavor combined with garlic and oil. The feta, also from Branched Oak Dairy Farm, was a perfect compliment.

I tried each of the main courses that were available that evening.

First up were the chard rolls. This was the vegetarian option for the evening and was a wonderful surprise. The chard rolls are filled with brown rice and sweet potato and are served over sorrel sauce with a side of asparagus.

The house hickory smoked brisket was served with a side of grilled polenta and roasted asparagus. The meat was very tender. The smoky flavor of the meat married well with the polenta.

The pork chop with rhubarb sauce was my favorite of the three main course dishes I tried. While I don’t traditionally think of a rhubarb sauce on pork, the semisweet sauce really brought out the best of the pork. The dish came with a side of barley and sweet potato pilaf garnished with chive flowerets that provided a beautiful splash of color and a strikingly wonderful flavor.

Two desserts were offered that evening: a rhubarb tart and a hubbard spice cake.

The rhubarb tart was beautiful in appearance; it looked like it belonged in the window of a pastry store in France rather than in Waverly, Nebraska. It was the perfect balance between tart and sweet—just like rhubarb dishes should be.

The hubbard spice cake was the dessert winner for me. The day before, Renee had shown me all about blue hubbard squash. As I helped her carry them from their storage to the kitchen, she explained how they were versatile, like a pumpkin. They are a pale blue-green on the outside and bright orange on the inside. When I saw this on the menu, I jumped at the chance to try it. It didn’t disappoint—still slightly warm from the oven, it was moist and spiced to perfection.

I left, content with having tried something new. And that’s what the farm-to-table experience is all about.

Jerry says it best.

“It’s an experience. It’s not just the food and it’s not just the place. It’s the food AND the place.”

He’s right about that. Prairie Plate is the place where you can come enjoy the beautiful Nebraska scenery and eat the finest dishes with ingredients grown and raised locally. It’s the taste of Nebraska distilled into the food on your plate.

From the farm, through the kitchen, to your table.

Prairie Plate is open Wednesday through Saturday 5–9 p.m., Sunday 12–5 p.m., from April through mid-November. The menu is constantly changing throughout the season, so check their website for weekly menus. A three-course meal plus coffee will run you around $35–43 but will be worth every penny.

Originally published in the June 2014 issue of Prairie Fire. Story by Sara Sawatski.

Trading salutes for eggs: Local veteran taking part in new ag program

Prairie Pride Poultry - feeding chickens
Lincoln Journal Star / Matt Ryerson Dan Hromas tends to his chickens at Prairie Pride Poultry east of York.

YORK — Dan Hromas reached down and ruffled the rust-colored tail feathers of a chicken.

The Rhode Island Red squatted briefly, then shook and strutted away with a cluck. Hromas smiled and laughed.

“They’re a great dual purpose breed. They’re excellent egg layers, and when they’re done, I can sell them as stewing hens,” the Iraq War veteran said.

After nearly two decades protecting U.S. freedom and interests as a soldier, the former Marine and current member of the Nebraska Army National Guard has found new purpose and resolve through his flock of 600 chickens.

He is among a small but growing group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans now feeding the nation they served as a member of the armed forces.

Hromas’ York-area farm, Prairie Pride Poultry, is the first in Nebraska and second in the United States to be certified by the new national program Homegrown by Heroes, a marketing initiative that recognizes farmer veterans.

***

Prairie Pride Poultry - Dan Hromas
Lincoln Journal Star / Matt Ryerson Iraq war veteran Dan Hromas tends to his chickens on land he leases just east of York. Hromas found assistance programs from Nebraska and the Farmer Veteran Coalition to help bring his dream to life.

For Hromas, the birds are both livelihood and therapy.

“Boredom is the most hazardous thing to my health,” said the chicken farmer who returned from a yearlong deployment to Iraq just in time for Christmas 2007 with persistent ringing in his ears and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Before that, Hromas was a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying microbiology on an Army ROTC scholarship. That came to an end when he was activated in advance of his National Guard unit on July 31, 2006, as part of President George W. Bush’s surge of American forces.

When he returned to Nebraska, Hromas got a commercial driver’s license but had difficulty sticking with a job. The one he kept for more than a year was driving a truck for the United Farmer’s Co-op in Utica.

“I can’t put up with a lot of s***,” he said.

***

Prairie Pride Poultry - watering chickens
Lincoln Journal Star / Matt Ryerson Dan Hromas tends to his chickens.

All soldiers leave the military different than they went in, said Don Sandman, a Vietnam veteran and Veterans’ Service Officer in York County.

“That is just the way it is,” Sandman said. “The military itself is traumatic. You’re in there for one reason and one reason alone. And that is to be prepared to kill mankind.”

Many veterans struggle with hearing problems, depression and the effects of PTSD. The Veterans Administration says 22 of them kill themselves every day.

The military instills a sense of being part of a greater good, part of something bigger than any individual.

That sense of duty and fellowship doesn’t come with punching a clock, said Chet Bennetts of the Farmer Veterans Coalition.

Farming can give veterans a sense of purpose again, he said.

The Farmer Veteran Coalition, which is based in Davis, California, has helped about 2,400 military service members, some still active, get involved in farming nationwide. In Nebraska, there are 35 veterans on the coalition’s radar.

“Being able to work hard and have something to do every day and feel good about it is way better than just punching a clock and getting by,” said Bennetts, who works from Lincoln.

Forty-six percent of U.S. military members hail from rural settings and many will return to them, said Scott Mickelsen, associate dean with the University of Nebraska’s College of Technical Agriculture.

“It can be somewhat soothing for them to work with animals, to work with plants, to work outdoors in a little less stressful situation,” he said.

The work ethic drilled into soldiers transfers well to agriculture, Mickelsen said. The college has developed a program tailored to retired military called Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots, which attracts four to seven veterans a year.

***

Prairie Pride Poultry - chicken house
Lincoln Journal Star / Matt Ryerson Inside a small chicken coop a Prairie Pride Poultry chicken lays an egg as a rooster is silhouetted in a window at Dan Hromas’ chicken farm east of York.

Hromas liked working for the United Farmers Co-op, but it was just a job. He started thinking about summer trips to visit his grandparents’ farm in North Dakota, looking for the eggs the chickens that ranged free laid in straw bales.

“It was like an Easter egg hunt every day.”

He missed that and wanted his four kids to have the same experience. Plus, he likes to eat eggs, and he likes the idea of being his own boss.

In October 2012, Hromas took his first step toward becoming a farmer and signed up for a Farm Beginnings Nebraska program hosted by the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society. He networked, took more classes, wrote a business plan, applied for grants and joined the York Chamber of Commerce.

On May 31, 2013, he incorporated his business and three months later got his first 300 birds. He sold his first dozen eggs to a man at the local Eagle’s Club. His first commercial account was with Chances R Restaurant in York, which buys his eggs for Sunday brunch.

Today, his hens produce 3,150 eggs a week. He sells them to Grand Central Foods in York, the Hy-Vee in Grand Island and as of last week the Williamsburg Hy-Vee in Lincoln.

Once a month, he sets up a booth at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market and last Sunday sold out of 62 dozen eggs in three hours.

His eggs cost a little more than the generic white ones at supermarkets, Hromas said, but people are willing to pay it because they know the eggs are fresh and were laid just down the road. He prefers the term “pasture-raised chickens” to the more ambiguous descriptors “cage free” and “free range.”

His main selling points are local, healthy eggs produced by happy chickens. When he has extra eggs, he donates them to local food banks and soup kitchens.

His chickens sleep and lay eggs in coops but spend their days roaming three acres he rents just northeast of York. He likes the peace of the farm and how it keeps him too busy to dwell on the past.

A person can get frustrated and throw a wrench, Hromas said. It’s not so easy to throw a chicken.

***

Lincoln Journal Star / Matt Ryerson
Lincoln Journal Star / Matt Ryerson Adrian Hromas, 9, helps his dad collect eggs at their chicken farm on a leased plot of land east of York.

Hromas said he doesn’t like using his status as a veteran for personal gain but decided to use the Homegrown by Heroes label to reach out to fellow veterans, to let them know they’re not alone and help is available.

The program was started by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and recently went national through the work of the Farmer Veteran Coalition with underwriting from the Farm Credit Network, a group of borrower-owned lending institutions.

“I got to thinking if I have that label on the product, people are going to start asking questions,” Hromas said. “That will open the door for me to start talking about the Farmer Veteran Coalition, about agriculture.

“Veterans in general, especially veterans with disabilities, can have a future in agriculture if they want.”

Originally published in the Lincoln Journal Star on Sunday, May 29, 2014. Story by Nicholas Bergin.

Expanding the Source of our News to You!

Are you a die-hard supporter of local food and want to get the word out about a burning topic?

Or maybe you are a new or existing NFC producer who would like to share with the NFC membership about your operation or specialty products.

If you just have a hankering for writing and would like to share your love of the local food scene with the NFC membership, send your original blog article to the NFC General Manager for a review, edit – as necessary – and possible inclusion in a future NFC newsletter and/or on NFC website, under Recent News.

Thank you for your contribution to an even more successful Nebraska Food Cooperative!

Email:  gm@nebraskafood.org

The Open Source Seed Initiative

pumpkin seedsTwo weeks ago, on April 17, the open-source seed initiative (OSSI) was launched from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, partly in response to industry giants who dominate the seed industry. Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont currently control about half of all commercial seed sales and are rumored to have tried patenting heirloom seeds in addition to the proprietary seeds they have developed for themselves.

Contracts from these companies often stipulate that farmers are forbidden from replanting seeds, forcing them to purchase new seeds every season. In response to this situation, OSSI is taking steps to place seeds explicitly into the public domain for use by anyone. The open-source seeds released by OSSI, include varieties of kale, squash, quinoa, zucchini, cress, broccoli, and carrots. They are accompanied by the following pledge:

This Open Source Seed pledge is intended to ensure your freedom to use the seed contained herein in any way you choose, and to make sure those freedoms are enjoyed by all subsequent users. By opening this packet, you pledge that you will not restrict others’ use of these seeds and their derivatives by patents, licenses, or any other means. You pledge that if you transfer these seeds or their derivatives they will also be accompanied by this pledge.

The principle behind the open-source seed initiative follows from the open-source software movement, which is aimed at producing software that can be used and re-used without being taken over by the proprietary rights of any company.

If you have ever bothered to read the end user licensing agreement (EULA) for software installed on your computer, it usually includes many pages of legal jargon detailing, among other things, that you are prohibited from looking at the code to discover how it works. This restriction on discovery is what makes the software proprietary or closed-source. The source-code (instructions that make the program work) is legally protected from any outside scrutiny.

In 1983, in response to increasing prevalence of closed-source software, the open-source software movement, now enjoined by many programmers around the world, began to produce programs, often licensed under the Gnu Public License (GPL), which ensure they will remain free for anyone to examine along with all future versions of those programs. GPL software can never be restricted by anyone, for any reason, ever.

Examples of closed-source software, restricted from public scrutiny, include operating systems like Windows and Apple, as well as programs like Internet Explorer, Safari, Outlook and Outlook Express, Microsoft Office, and Adobe products. However, open-source software is also widely used, including such operating systems as Linux and BSD, and programs like Firefox, Thunderbird, Libre Office, and many others (including all the sofware that runs the NFC website).

The recent Heartbleed bug probably would not have been discovered if it had not been an open-source program that could be reviewed for potential problems.

Even though open-source seeds are not strictly publishing the code of their seeds (i.e. the seed DNA), the initiative is borrowing from the open-source software movement to ensure the code remains open and available for use by anyone and that it will never be restricted or patented.

Making a pledge for open-sourced seeds is a great advancement toward food security.

A Primer on Grass-fed vs Corn-fed Beef

A lot of people today, horrified by how animals are treated in factory farms and feedlots, and wanting to lower their ecological footprint, are looking for healthier alternatives. As a result, there is a decided trend toward pasture-raised animals.  One former vegetarian, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford, says he now eats meat, but only “grassfed and organic and sustainable as possible, reverentially and deeply gratefully, and in small amounts.”

Sales of grassfed and organic beef are rising rapidly.  Ten years ago, there were only about 50 grassfed cattle operations left in the U.S.  Now there are thousands.

How much difference does it make?  Is grassfed really better?  If so, in what ways, and how much?

If you read on, you’ll see why I’ve concluded that grassfed is indeed better.  But then, almost anything would be.  Putting beef cattle in feedlots and feeding them grain may actually be one of the dumbest ideas in the history of western civilization.

Cattle (like sheep, deer and other grazing animals) are endowed with the ability to convert grasses, which we humans cannot digest, into flesh that we are able to digest. They can do this because unlike humans, who possess only one stomach, they are ruminants, which is to say that they possess a rumen, a 45 or so gallon fermentation tank in which resident bacteria convert cellulose into protein and fats.

In today’s feedlots, however, cows fed corn and other grains are eating food that humans can eat, and they are quite inefficiently converting it into meat.  Since it takes anywhere from 7 to 16 pounds of grain to make a pound of feedlot beef, we actually get far less food out than we put in.  It’s a protein factory in reverse.

And we do this on a massive scale, while nearly a billion people on our planet do not have enough to eat.

Feedlot Reality

How has a system that is so wasteful come to be?  Feedlots and other CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) are not the inevitable product of agricultural progress, nor are they the result of market forces.  They are instead the result of public policies that massively favor large-scale feedlots to the detriment of family farms.

From 1997 to 2005, for example, taxpayer-subsidized grain prices saved feedlots and other CAFOs about $35 billion.  This subsidy is so large that it reduced the price CAFOs pay for animal feed to a tiny fraction of what it would otherwise have been.  Cattle operations that raise animals exclusively on pasture land, however, derive no benefit from the subsidy.

Federal policies also give CAFOs billions of dollars to address their pollution problems, which arise because they confine so many animals, often tens of thousands, in a small area.  Small farmers raising cattle on pasture do not have this problem in the first place.  If feedlots and other CAFOs were required to pay the price of handling the animal waste in an environmentally health manner, if they were made to pay to prevent or to clean up the pollution they create, they wouldn’t be dominating the U.S. meat industry the way they are today.  But instead we have had farm policies that require the taxpayers to foot the bill.  Such policies have made feedlots and other CAFOs feasible, but only by fleecing the public.

Traditionally, all beef was grassfed beef, but we’ve turned that completely upside down.  Now, thanks to our misguided policies, our beef supply is almost all feedlot beef.

Thanks to government subsidies, it’s cheaper, and it’s also faster.  Seventy-five years ago, steers were slaughtered at the age of four- or five-years-old. Today’s steers, however, grow so fast on the grain they are fed that they can be butchered much younger, typically when they are only 14 or 16 months.

All beef cattle spend the first few months of their lives on pasture or rangeland, where they graze on forage crops such as grass or alfalfa.  But then nearly all are fattened, or as the industry likes to call it “finished,” in feedlots where they eat grain.  You can’t take a beef calf from a birth weight of 80 pounds to 1,200 pounds in a little more than a year on grass.  That kind of unnaturally fast weight gain takes enormous quantities of corn, soy-based protein supplements, antibiotics and other drugs, including growth hormones.

Under current farm policies, switching a cow from grass to corn makes economic sense, but it is still profoundly disturbing to the animal’s digestive system.  It can actually kill a steer if not done gradually and if the animal is not continually fed antibiotics.

Author (and small-scale cattleman) Michael Pollan describes what happens to cows when they are taken off of pastures and put into feedlots and fed corn:

“Perhaps the most serious thing that can go wrong with a ruminant on corn is feedlot bloat. The rumen is always producing copious amounts of gas, which is normally expelled by belching during rumination. But when the diet contains too much starch and too little roughage, rumination all but stops, and a layer of foamy slime that can trap gas forms in the rumen. The rumen inflates like a balloon, pressing against the animal’s lungs. Unless action is promptly taken to relieve the pressure (usually by forcing a hose down the animal’s esophagus), the cow suffocates.

“A corn diet can also give a cow acidosis. Unlike our own highly acidic stomachs, the normal pH of a rumen is neutral. Corn makes it unnaturally acidic, however, causing a kind of bovine heartburn, which in some cases can kill the animal but usually just makes it sick. Acidotic animals go off their feed, pant and salivate excessively, paw at their bellies and eat dirt. The condition can lead to diarrhea, ulcers, bloat, liver disease and a general weakening of the immune system that leaves the animal vulnerable to everything from pneumonia to feedlot polio.”

Putting beef cattle in feedlots and giving them corn is not only unnatural and dangerous for the cows. It also has profound medical consequences for us, and this is true whether or not we eat their flesh. Feedlot beef as we know it today would be impossible if it weren’t for the routine and continual feeding of antibiotics to these animals. This leads directly and inexorably to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These new “superbugs” are increasingly rendering our antibiotics ineffective for treating disease in humans.

Further, it is the commercial meat industry’s practice of keeping cattle in feedlots and feeding them grain that is responsible for the heightened prevalence of deadly E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria. When cattle are grainfed, their intestinal tracts become far more acidic, which favors the growth of pathogenic E. coli bacteria that can kill people who eat undercooked hamburger.

It’s not widely known, but E. coli 0157:H7 has only recently appeared on the scene.  It was first identified in the 1980s, but now this pathogen can be found in the intestines of almost all feedlot cattle in the U.S.  Even less widely recognized is that the practice of feeding corn and other grains to cattle has created the perfect conditions for forms of E. Coli and other microbes to come into being that can, and do, kill us.

Prior to the advent of feedlots, the microbes that resided in the intestines of cows were adapted to a neutral-pH environment.  As a result, if they got into meat, it didn’t usually cause much of a problem because the microbes perished in the acidic environment of the human stomach.  But the digestive tract of the modern feedlot animal has changed.  It is now nearly as acidic as our own.  In this new, manmade environment, strains of E. coli and other pathogens have developed that can survive our stomach acids, and go on to kill us.  As Michael Pollan puts it, “by acidifying a cow’s gut with corn, we have broken down one of our food chain’s barriers to infections.”

Which is more nutritious?

Many of us think of “corn-fed” beef as nutritionally superior, but it isn’t. A cornfed cow does develop well-marbled flesh, but this is simply saturated fat that can’t be trimmed off. Grassfed meat, on the other hand, is lower both in overall fat and in artery-clogging saturated fat. A sirloin steak from a grainfed feedlot steer has more than double the total fat of a similar cut from a grassfed steer. In its less-than-infinite wisdom, however, the USDA continues to grade beef in a way that rewards marbling with intra-muscular fat.

Grassfed beef not only is lower in overall fat and in saturated fat, but it has the added advantage of providing more omega-3 fats. These crucial healthy fats are most plentiful in flaxseeds and fish, and are also found in walnuts, soybeans and in meat from animals that have grazed on omega-3 rich grass. When cattle are taken off grass, though, and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on grain, they immediately begin losing the omega-3s they have stored in their tissues.  A grassfed steak typically has about twice as many omega-3s as a grainfed steak.

In addition to being higher in healthy omega-3s, meat from pastured cattle is also up to four times higher in vitamin E than meat from feedlot cattle, and much higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a nutrient associated with lower cancer risk.

What about the environment?

As well as its nutritional advantages, there are also environmental benefits to grassfed beef. According to David Pimentel, a Cornell ecologist who specializes in agriculture and energy, the corn we feed our feedlot cattle accounts for a staggering amount of fossil fuel energy. Growing the corn used to feed livestock takes vast quantities of chemical fertilizer, which in turn takes vast quantities of oil. Because of this dependence on petroleum, Pimentel says, a typical steer will in effect consume 284 gallons of oil in his lifetime. Comments Michael Pollan,

“We have succeeded in industrializing the beef calf, transforming what was once a solar-powered ruminant into the very last thing we need: another fossil-fuel machine.”

In addition to consuming less energy, grassfed beef has another environmental advantage — it is far less polluting. The animals’ wastes drop onto the land, becoming nutrients for the next cycle of crops. In feedlots and other forms of factory farming, however, the animals’ wastes build up in enormous quantities, becoming a staggering source of water and air pollution.

Less misery on the menu?

From a humanitarian perspective, there is yet another advantage to pastured animal products. The animals themselves are not forced to live in confinement. The cruelties of modern factory farming are so severe that you don’t have to be a vegetarian or an animal rights activist to find the conditions to be intolerable, and a violation of the human-animal bond. Pastured livestock are not forced to endure the miseries of factory farming. They are not cooped up in cages barely larger than their own bodies, or packed together like sardines for months on end standing knee deep in their own manure.

Grassfed or organic?

It’s important to remember that organic is not the same as grassfed. Natural food stores often sell organic beef and dairy products that are hormone- and antibiotic- free.  These products come from animals who were fed organically grown grain, but who typically still spent most of their lives (or in the case of dairy cows perhaps their whole lives) in feedlots.  The sad reality is that almost all the organic beef and organic dairy products sold in the U.S. today comes from feedlots.

Just as organic does not mean grass-fed, grass-fed does not mean organic. Pastured animals sometimes graze on land that has been treated with synthetic fertilizers and even doused with herbicides. Unless the meat label specifically says it is both grassfed and organic, it isn’t.

 Editor’s Note: This article lays out the reasons why is it even more important to Know Your Farmer and their herd management practices.

Excerpt from John Robbins, The Food Revolution Network

Does NFC Offer SNAP Benefits?

Now that Nebraska farmers’ markets are offering Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to their customers, NFC customers are wondering if we can follow the same lead.

The US Department of Agriculture Food Nutrition Service (FNS) who manages SNAP says, “No” that the Nebraska Food Cooperative does not operate the same as farmers’ markets with our multiple delivery points.  Another kink is that the SNAP process does not allow for online ordering of products for a later delivery date.

But NFC wants to find a solution. So we are working on providing an alternate method.

SNAPIt is possible that by working through churches as delivery points that FNS would allow pre-ordered products (ie, you would be able to use SNAP for NFC products by picking up your order at a church).

So, NFC is looking for interested members located in Omaha, Lincoln, and other towns who are associated with churches to start a SNAP drop point for NFC products.

Everyone should have equal access to healthy food.  And it should matter not whether you are paying with cash, PayPal, or through SNAP.

If you would like to volunteer to be a church site coordinator or if you have an alternative solution, contact the NFC General Manager or the NFC Treasurer of your interest.

Email:
gm@nebraskafood.org
nfctreasurer@nebraskafood.org

Angel Food Cake (100% Scratch)

angelfoodcakeDo you want an extra-special treat? Try a baked-100 percent-from-scratch angel food cake!

Homemade angel food cake is definitely worth the work. It is moist, unlike the sweet styrofoam available in the grocery bakery.

Ingredients for a 10 inch cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups egg whites
    Hint: separate when cold; beat at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Directions:

  1. Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and then add cream of tartar, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
  2. Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Repeat five times.
  3. Gently combine the egg whites with the dry ingredients, and then pour into an ungreased 10 inch tube pan. NOTE: A tube pan with a removable bottom is highly recommended.
  4. Place cake pan in a cold oven. Turn the oven on; set it to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Cook for about one hour, or until cake is golden brown.
  5. Invert cake, and allow it to cool in the pan. When thoroughly cooled, remove from pan.

 

Recipe by Syd, allrecipes.com

Website Security and Heartbleed

This morning, we made a several updates to the NFC website, including switching to secure protocol for data transmission, also known as SSL or TLS. Beginning now, you will see a “padlock” on all NFC pages, indicating the data between your computer and NFC is encrypted.

This will help ensure the privacy of personal data, such as usernames and passwords, even when working from a public wi-fi network. Sensitive financial information (such as credit-card numbers) have never been at risk with NFC since they are only handled by external agencies, like PayPal, who specialize in protecting that sort of information.

Heartbleed OKFinally, the recent “heartbleed” OpenSSL security flaw has been addressed at NFC and poses no known risk for the future. We strive to keep your information as safe as possible and would be happy to discuss any concerns you may have.

Beginning Women Farmer Workshops

If you a woman who is interested in getting started in gardening, farming, and/or ranching, then this workshop series is perfect for you!

The Center for Rural Affairs is offering Beginning Women Farmer learning opportunities!  Each workshop is only $5, and it includes lunch.

Please register, in advance, with Virginia Meyer:
Email: virginiam@cfra.org
Phone: (402) 992-5134)

Farm Dreams
April 12, 2014; 10:30 am – 2:30 pm
Syracuse Public Library
496 6th St, Syracuse, NE

The Farm Dreams Workshop is an entry level, four-hour workshop designed to help people who are seeking practical, common sense information on whether farming or ranching is the next step for them. Participants will be able to examine their resources, skills, and motivations for farming/ranching, and develop a plan for moving forward toward their farming goals.

Farm Business Financing
May 10, 2014; 10:30 am – 2:30 pm
Lewis and Clark Center
100 Valmont Drive
Nebraska City, NE

The Farm Business Financing Workshop is an intensive business planning and farm financing course designed to help women farmers and ranchers design a business plan and access financing for their agricultural operations.  A well-organized and thoughtful business plan is a key step for beginning farmers and ranchers who want to finance their operations.

Selling at Farmers Markets
June 7, 2014;  11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Breadeux Pizza
1425 Silver Street
Ashland, NE

We have tips and tricks to help you rock the Farmers’ Market.  This workshop will focus on making the most of selling at farmers’ markets including location, building a customer base, product, presentation, price, and the art of selling.  This workshop is perfect for those getting started or those thinking about selling at farmers’ market.

Selling through a CSA
June 21, 2014; 11:30 am – 3:30 pm
Webermeier Public Library
617 2nd Street
Milford, NE

Learn more about selling through a Community Supported Agriculture or CSA system.  Advantages of selling through CSA include:

  • customers pay up front, which generates operating capital, and
  • CSAs can build loyal customers, who buy reliably from your farm

Attend this workshop to learn more about selling through a CSA.

Be Courteous to your Site Coordinator

Your site coordinator graciously volunteers their time to be a pick-up site for your NFC order. They receive your products, receive your payments, make deposits, and they prepare a site accounting report for each cycle.

The pick-up location, pick-up day, and hours for each site are clearly defined on your invoice.  If you absolutely cannot pick up your order on the designated date and time, PLEASE contact your site coordinator IN ADVANCE of the pick-up date to discuss alternatives.

NFC policy states that if your order is not picked up at the designated time, your paid order will be distributed to someone else.

 

No-Show Policy
The Nebraska Food Cooperative is a volunteer run organization that also depends on the willingness of local churches and businesses to open up their facilities for our pickups.

As such, we are unable to provide storage for our customer members after designated pickup times.  Our official policy therefore is to not offer such storage.

Orders not picked up during the order window may be donated at the discretion of the site coordinator. The customer will still be liable for payment in this case, in order to fulfill the obligation with our farmer members who supplied the products in good faith.

In practice, we recognize that each site and each site coordinator work under unique circumstances.  We leave the application of this policy to the discretion of the each site coordinator or cashier.  If you have a concern about your ability to pick up your order during the designated time, please call your site coordinator as soon as possible.  His or her phone number is listed on your invoice.  Thank you for helping your cooperative run smoothly!

Sliced Filet Mignon with Fava Beans, Radishes, and Mustard Dressing

FiletMignonFavaBeans
This is a sure winner!
Adding large, bright pink watermelon radishes look and taste great here.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons country-style Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh fava beans (from about 2 pounds fresh pods) or frozen double-peeled, thawed
  • 10 medium radishes, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon, basil, thyme, and parsley
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4  5- to 7-ounce filet mignon steaks
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat’s milk feta cheese

Preparation

Whisk vinegar and mustard in small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Cook fava beans in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain and peel (if using fresh). Transfer to paper towels to dry. Place fava beans, radishes, herbs, and dressing in medium bowl; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Let salad stand at room temperature at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Melt butter with canola oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Add steaks to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to cutting board; let stand 10 minutes. Cut each steak into 3 slices.

Divide salad among 4 plates. Arrange 1 sliced steak atop each salad. Sprinkle some of cheese over each and serve.

 

Courtesy of Epicurious.com

Handmade Soap…Simply Better!

The REAL story behind commercial soap?  You’ll be surprised, or maybe you won’t be!  Read on….

The modern industrial process has drastically changed what we call “soap”. Modern manufacturing methods are causing concern for our environment and waterways.

The industrial manufacturing process is more focused on quantity, production levels and returns on investment rather than with customer satisfaction, skin care, or environmental issues. Raw materials are chosen for their cost versus skin care properties or environmental issues.

As a matter of fact, most commercial soaps these days are made from food industry waste, particularly low-value products of the meat industry. To keep up with quantities, a total automated process is required which manipulates base ingredients by adding synthetic additives that have nothing to do with real soap or skin care.

They then manipulate ph, hardness, color, and lather to extend the shelf life to unnatural time lines. Glycerine is removed and sold as a separate commodity. After vacuum drying, cooling, and solidifying, the “soap” is crushed and milled to create a moldable paste, which is then treated with synthetic color, perfumes, sudsing, sequestering, and chelating agents.

Finally with the addition of synthetic lubricants, the soap mass is extruded into bars and pressed into the final shape and are marketed as “beauty bars”.  Is it any wonder that doctors and skin care specialists often recommend not to use commercial soap if you have skin problems?

Handmade Soap
Handmade Soap

Handmade soap is a natural and refreshing alternative! For those who are environmentally conscious, the possibility of choosing natural and locally available products is an extra bonus to the wonderful skin care properties of natural soap.

Each batch of soap starts from scratch and incorporates the highest quality plant-based ingredients.  Base oils could be individual or a combination of olive oil and coconut oil with some additions of other oils, such as rosehip, chosen for their skin care benefits.

Many handmade soap batches incorporate herbs and flowers , which are chosen for their skin care properties and are free of synthetics, perfumes, fragrance oils, and dyes.

Each batch of handmade soap is preserved naturally and scented with pure essential oils that have additional skin care benefits, and individually tested to ensure the right ph level for skin. All of the naturally occurring glycerin produced during the soap making process is retained in every bar.

So the next time you walk in the store to buy commercial soap, consider the handmade alternative that has been crafted with loving attention to details.

Excerpt reprinted with permission from Cloverleaf Cooperative

What Chance for a Spring Freeze?

Chances are, if you’re planning to grow a garden this summer, you are anxious get your plants into the ground. Some plants will survive  a spring (or fall) freeze better than others. According to the folks at Bonnie Plants, some hardy plants, tolerating a frost of 25-28° F, are broccoli,  Brussels sprouts, cabbage, English peas, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mustard greens, parsley, radish, spinach, and turnip. Less hardy, but still tolerating a frost of 29-32° F, are beets, carrot, cauliflower, celery, endive, Irish potatoes, lettuce, rutabaga, and Swiss chard.

10% chance for a spring freeze after these dates
10% chance for a spring freeze after these dates

Using data from the High Plains Regional Climate Center, UNL Cropwatch has released a set of three maps detailing the chance of a spring freeze in various parts of Nebraska. Based upon thirty years of data, the map at right shows the dates after which there would be a 10% chance for a freeze of 32°F. The full details can be found at Cropwatch.

If there is a prediction for frost after plants are in the garden, one way to provide some protection is to cover them with sheets or blankets, making sure to prop up the covering so it does not damage the young plants. Be sure to remove the coverings soon after the frost threat has passed to allow for air circulation and sunlight.

Grow Year-Round in Nebraska

Never Ending HarvestWORKSHOP — Would you like to grow produce year round to supply not only your family but expand into new markets, like schools, restaurants, retail stores, farmers’ markets, and NFC customers?

Being held in Nebraska for the first time, this Fall, Winter, Spring Produce Workshop teaches a greenhouse method that doesn’t necessarily require auxilliary heating!  Presented by Roger and Beth Matson, founders of Never Ending Harvest, this family owned and operated, sustainable farming business is a long-time grower of winter produce in Iowa.

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, April 23 from 1:00-4:00 PM in Hastings, Nebraska. It includes three hours of detailed group instruction, plus the winter greenhouse set of three DVDs. Cost is $85.00.

Greenhouse in winter
Winter vegetable production

Register no later than Saturday, April 19 — limited seating available — by mailing payment and contact information (name, email, address, and phone) to:

NFC General Manager
45150 State Hwy. 52
Belgrade, NE 68623

For questions, contact Caryl Guisinger, NFC General Manager:
308.357.1000 (home)
gm@nebraskafood.org

This workshop is co-sponsored by the Nebraska Food Cooperative and Buy Fresh / Buy Local Nebraska.

 

 

Farms grass-fed beef barely keeping up with demand

Originally published in the Grand Island Independent on Sunday, March 30, 2014. Story by Ellen Campbell.

Luke and Lori Jacobsen in pasture with cattle
Independent / Matt Dixon Luke and Lori Jacobsen pose for a portrait with some of their grass-fed cattle in a pasture on their farm near Marquette. The Jacobsens’ beef products have been sold all over the United States and can be found online at rangewestbeef.com.

MARQUETTE — Many people believe grass-fed cattle produce a tough, stringy product, and that good beef comes only from corn-fed animals.

Luke Jacobsen, who farms near Marquette, is proving that, given the right conditions, the opposite is true.

His wife Lori, who is a first-grade teacher, helps with their beef business, especially the marketing. They live on the L&L Jacobsen Farm, where they raised their three children. The kids live away from home now, but assist on the farm when they are visiting.

“I come from a long line of beef producers,” said Jacobsen. “My great-grandfather Peter Jacobsen immigrated to the United States from Denmark in 1868. He came to Nebraska in 1872 and settled in the Marquette area in 1892. He was a cattle farmer, and sold his animals at the Omaha Stockyards.

Old photo of stockyard
Courtesy photo Peter Jacobsen, great-grandfather of Marquette farmer Luke Jacobsen, sold his cattle at the Omaha Stockyards. Photo was taken in the late 1800s or very early 1900s.

“At that time, there was a special market in England for fattened beef. The cattle were loaded onto rail cars at Marquette for the trip, and the cattlemen could ride along in the caboose.”

Then there were the next two generations.

“My grandfather, Christian, was born in 1884 and also raised cattle, as did my father Elmer (1919-2008).” Luke Jacobsen said. “I began farming in 1978 and have been involved with cattle since that time. I planted the first ‘finishing’ pasture in 2004 and began selling grass-fed beef in 2007 through the Nebraska Food Co-op. This cooperative is focused on local foods, and has a delivery point in Grand Island.”

Jacobsen said he became interested in grass-fed cattle from the health standpoint. Grass — not corn — is the natural diet for ruminants like cattle, and the meat from these cattle provides three times more omega-3 than those that are grain-fed, twice the amount of beta carotene, less saturated fat and fewer calories per serving. The Jacobsens use no antibiotics or synthetic hormones in their cattle.

“I took a trip to Argentina in January of 2003,” he said. “They grow excellent beef there on the Pampas plains, and I was with a group that wanted to counter the corn-fed theory. We learned that Argentine cattle genetics are different from ours, producing animals with a smaller frame. Also, with abundant rainfall, the pastures have a high moisture content, and the grazing is rotated.

“All of these contribute to a more tender, tastier beef. When we get away from all the grain and artificial additives, and decide to return to nature, we can have that.”

“We feel our flavor is superior to corn-fed beef. And one reason is that the animals are older before begin butchered. In earlier times, cattle were not sold until they were about 2 years old and had time for their meat to develop more taste. Then, when the push was on to get fat cattle to the market as soon as possible, to increase sales volume, the producers began feeding corn and giving supplements so that they attained the desired weight at a younger age.”

 

cattle at Jacobsen's farm
Independent / Matt Dixon These cows, and many others raised by Luke and Lori Jacobsen on their farm in Marquette, are raised on a pure grass diet.

Back home, Jacobsen began his experimentation with a small part of his 80-acre home place, and now uses all of the property. He has divided the pasture land into a number of different paddocks, and rotates the cattle through, giving each plot a 30-day rest period before another herd comes in. In addition, the pasture is irrigated to emulate the wet Argentinian Pampas.

He has also focused on genetics for cattle that are smaller-framed than the typical beef animal.

“We feel our flavor is superior to corn-fed beef,” he said. “And one reason is that the animals are older before being butchered. In earlier times, cattle were not sold until they were about 2 years old and had time for their meat to develop more taste.

“Then, when the push was on to get fat cattle to the market as soon as possible to increase sales volume, the producers began feeding corn and giving supplements so that they attained the desired weight at a younger age,” Luke Jacobsen added. “We sell our grass-fed cattle when they are more mature, and we get great feedback from customers.”

arm roast in package
Independent / Matt Dixon Grass-fed beef arm roast is one of the beef products sold by Luke and Lori Jacobsen.

The Jacobsens’ brand label is Range West Grass-Fed Beef. They established a website to provide general information, details on ordering including a price list, a chart of beef cuts, health benefits and a section for customer comments. A sampling of the comments:

  • Richard B. of Toronto: “Fantastic meat! Your flat-iron steaks are better than some rib-eyes I’ve had.”
  • Ken C. of Omaha, on a filet cookoff: “We compared your fillets against a competitor’s prime tenderloin at a large dinner party. Every single person preferred your steaks.”
  • Ellie S. of Lincoln: “Thank you. Your ground beef is sooo good!”

Luke Jacobsen recommends a book — “Steaks,” by Mark Schatzker — as an excellent source of information about the benefits of feeding cattle on grass. The Range West website has a link to a video of an interview with the author. In this interview, Schatzker mentioned Range West, and it brought numerous inquiries and orders to the Jacobsens.

cattle in pasture
Independent / Matt Dixon Pictured are some of the grass-fed cattle raised by Luke and Lori Jacobsen on L&L Jacobsen Farm near Marquette.

The Jacobsens have customers all over the United States, as well as a wide constituency of people in Asia, Europe and Africa who don’t like the American corn-fed beef.

“One of our problems is keeping up with the demand,” said Jacobsen. “We’re a small operation and can turn out only a certain amount of beef at a time.

“A frequently asked question is ‘Why can’t I find grass-fed beef in grocery stores?’ The answer is that American food production is geared for high volumes of basically wholesome, inexpensive food with little regard for nutritional differences. Feeding grain is the fastest way to fatten animals and has been the least costly. But our customers are concerned about availability, not price.

‘How Can I Continue to be Better’ Workshop

springBuy Fresh Buy Local® Nebraska (BFBLN) in partnership with the UNL Nebraska Cooperative Development Center will provide educational workshops and trainings to assist specialty crop growers in Nebraska. The purpose of the workshops are to not only provide knowledge but also change marketing and business management behaviors to sustain a successful, profitable business.

BFBLN will strengthen the specialty crops grower businesses in Nebraska by offering presentations that focus on three areas: “Business & Enterprise Planning and Financing”,” “Food Safety for Direct-to-Consumer Markets” and “Marketing & Promotion Utilizing Social Media”.

The workshops are open to anyone, but the focus and topics geared toward specially crops growers. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture and Christmas trees.”

It matters not if you are just starting out as a young specialty crop grower or have some years of experience under your belt, these workshops can help you expand your skill set and gain practical knowledge!

DATE:  Saturday, March 8

TIME: 12:30 – 4:30 pm

WHERE: Kearney Public Library, 2020 1st Ave

Please register by Friday, March 7th so we will have an accurate number of workbooks available.

There is a $10.00 registration fee for the workshop and payable on day of workshop.

Registration information to: BFBLN coordinator Billene Nemec, bnemec2@unl.edu or 402-472-5273.

Smothered Pork Chops

Cookbook
Recipes

In this beloved southern recipe, meaty bone-in pork chops are literally smothered in vegetables and broth, then simmered until the vegetables have melted into a sauce tailor-made for spooning over rice.

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in pork loin chops, each about 1 inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced, white and light green portions separated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce, plus more for serving
  • Steamed rice for serving

Directions:

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. In a large electric skillet set on medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the chops and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and melt the butter in the skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up the browned bits from the pan bottom, until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, celery, the white portion of the green onions and the garlic. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add the thyme and flour and stir well. Gradually stir in the broth and bring to a simmer.

Return the pork chops to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, then turn the chops over, cover and simmer until the pork shows no sign of pink when pierced at the bone, about 10 minutes more. Transfer the chops to a deep platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Stir the cream into the gravy in the skillet and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the green portion of the green onions and the 1 tsp. hot sauce and season with salt. Pour the gravy over the pork chops and serve immediately with steamed rice. Pass more hot sauce at the table. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).

NFC Movers and Shakers

Keeping NFC Strong
Keeping NFC Strong

The DEDICATION of every single one of these MOVERS and SHAKERS ensure that NFC’s collective wheels keeps delivering healthy local food to you every other week.   Show them your appreciation the next time you see them!

President:   Randy Wattermann
Vice President:  Stephanie Kennedy
Secretary:   Liz Sarno
Treasurer:   Jeremiah Picard
Chief Information Officer:   Roy Guisinger

Board Members: 
Bob Bernt, Libby Broekemeier, Jim Knopik, Lanette Stec

Advisory Committee Members: Frannie Bruening, Laura Chisholm, Gary Fehr, Rebecka Fleischman, Liz Frombgen, Brynn Jacobs, Luke Jacobsen, Jeff Kazor, John Johnson, Beth Kernes Krause, Brian O’Malley, Katie Wattermann

Site Coordinators:  Adam Hoogeveen, Shelly Grimm, Beth Farleigh, Beth Kernes Krause, Bruce Reneaud, Libby Broekemeier, Al Mittan, Tammy Kuper, Jill Hansen, Heidi Slaymaker, Francine Bruening, Paul Verderfecht, Yvonne Wilder, Sandi Hohn, Randy Wattermann, William Powers, Susan Stoppkotte, Lanette Stec, Phyllis Randall, Danna Seevers, Laura Chisholm, Catherine Renshaw

Logistics Coordinator:  Beth Kernes Krause

Delivery Driver:  Kevin Krause

General Manager:   Caryl Guisinger