Keewaydin Farms, founded in 1976 by Richard and Mary Haucke, is now run by their son, Rufus Haucke with help from his children Karma and Aurora. Previously a dairy farm run with sustainable practices, the farm is now a MOSA certified organic vegetable operation. Rufus and his family raise 15 acres of produce for wholesale markets and a community supported agriculture program. Located in beautiful rural southwestern Wisconsin, Keewaydin Farms enjoys the serenity found only in the quietest places. It is a place where the scenery nourishes the soul, and the bounty of the farm nourishes the body. In these times of global markets, Keewaydin Farms is rooted in providing high quality products to its local community, because they believe these products are not only better for the planet as a whole but that people who eat locally grown products are eating healthier, better-tasting goods.
1. When did you begin farming and what inspired you to pursue it professionally?
I began my farming career in 2004. Actually, I grew up on my farm and as a kid, helped my parents with the daily chores of a small dairy. But 2004 is when it became my operation. Honestly, I never imagined this would be the profession I would choose. As a young adult, I moved to Colorado and lived there for about eight years. Over that time, I would come back to the farm a couple times a year. As the years passed I began to really fall in love with this place. The idea of working outside, surrounding myself with wonderful food and people became a passion that was to hard to ignore. My final year in Colorado I spent the summer growing a garden, and was amazed daily by the process of growing plants and the taste. It was after that summer that I knew I had to follow this dream and I haven't looked back. After ten years of doing this work, I feel like I almost love it more. Honestly though, it was probably my stomach that inspired me :)
2. Will you describe your approach to farming?
We have been certified organic by MOSA since 2004. There was never a question in my mind about that approach. I have never had a desire to insult this beautiful land with harsh, toxic chemicals and I feel like my organic certificate is my proud declaration to the world of that commitment. Beyond that, I feel it is important to provide space for the natural world. Over the next couple of years, we are working on establishing strips of land between fields that will be left as natural areas. The plan is to plant them with prairie flowers and grasses. I love all the birds we have around here and want to give them the space they need to survive. We have 30 acres of woods as well and for the last three years, we have been planting small batches of trees.
3. What distinguishes your products from other local produce?
We are the chard people :) Swiss chard is the first crop I started growing for market and have continued to grow it. I love the beauty we find in those bunches of rainbow chard, it looks like a bouquet when we are done bunching them. I also refuse to use plastic mulch on my fields, I know there are a ton of benefits but I just can't bear to insult my soil with it.
4. What is your favorite way to enjoy your own produce?
Stir fry! I think we live off of that over the summer. Oh and who can resist a BLT: farm fresh tomato, bacon, lettuce and a fresh loaf of bread, its heaven on earth! Often I will graze all day long on the plants right from the field, raw. This year we have been doing a bit of grilling as well. So far, grilled asparagus has been on the menu a handful of times.