Looking back at my childhood, it’s clear now how growing up for a part of my life on a small Wisconsin farmstead influenced my path into food and agriculture. We raised livestock and produce, wild harvested fruits, vegetables and nuts, hunted wild game and put as much of it by for winter as possible. It was a simple life by today’s standards, and yet it is the culminated experiences from those early years that propelled my career aspirations and values to this day.
In my mid 20s, I embarked on a path to find a way to contribute to the organic food and farming movement that was growing in the Midwest. In 1997 I rented both a commercial kitchen in St. Paul and garden space on a farm in the East Metro Area of the Twin Cities. Initially, my goal was to bring one of my favorite childhood foods to market using organically grown zucchini and onions that I harvested from my small garden plot. The product was zucchini relish, a sweet relish, that I started selling right away to several grocery stores in the Twin Cities including Whole Foods stores from St. Paul to Chicago.
After years of searching for good land to purchase and raise vegetables on, I found certified organic farmland in Western Wisconsin. My soon to be husband Mike and I built our homestead with the help of Amish contractors. The first part of our home that was completed was the commercial kitchen, which I use to this day to make my ferments and pickles.
Those early days were filled with raising a family, building our farmstead, living off the land and working at my dream job here on our farm. Somewhere in the middle of that I had a health scare that made me reevaluate many things, especially my diet. Surrounded by fresh organic produce from our garden, it didn’t take long for me realize that I needed to eat for my health. Inspired by my dear friend Janet, who’s delicious raw sauerkraut got me hooked on fermented vegetables, I was determined to create a line of vegetable ferments I could offer to my customers at Twin Cities’ health food co-ops and the St. Paul Farmer’s Market where I was a vendor. In 2004, my vegetable ferment product line began with basic sauerkraut, and soon expanded to include kim chi, curtido and beet kvass.
By 2008 I left the St. Paul Farmer’s Market and focused on selling our ferments and pickles exclusively to local and regional health food co-ops and stores. With the help of Co-op Partners Warehouse in St. Paul, I was able to distribute my products to co-ops in Madison, the Twin Cities and several regional health food outlets. I continued to use our own farm raised organic produce for my products, while also sourcing extra produce from local and national organic growers.
Looking back now, some 20 plus years since I started this journey, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to bring quality, sustainably grown products to market. As a small family farm business, my husband and two boys have been helping me on the farm and in the kitchen. We continue to raise a lot of the produce that goes into our products, and with the addition of our herd of 100% grass (and vegetable) fed Scottish Highland cattle we purchased in 2009, we’ve been able to build and improve our farms soil, keeping a closed nutrient cycling system right here on our farm. Our efforts have helped establish a diverse ecosystem of plants, insects and wild animals that call our 44 acres home.
And finally, we thank our loyal customers who have continued to purchase our products over the years. Your support means more to us than you can imagine. Please feel free to contact us through email or leave a comment on our “Contact Us Page” with any questions or thoughts you may have.
For more information about Angelica’s Garden, consider following our blog on this website, which will contain a more in depth look into the goings-on here at our farm and in our farmstead kitchen.