Full Plate

From early Native American farming to modern urban agriculture, agriculture in southeastern Wisconsin has been a transformative and defining force.

This summer, Lake Effect's Full Plate series explores the people, places, flora and fauna that makeup our diverse ecosystem.

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From canning, to fermenting, to dehydrating, Christina Ward is an expert in teaching Milwaukeeans how to conserve food. Her new book, Preservation, and she says that among the many professional hats she wears, there is one she’s particularly proud of.

“I’m the master food preserver, which means I’m a volunteer in my community charged with giving people the latest and greatest science,” says Ward.

 

We are a long time removed from the era in which farming represented the majority of southeastern Wisconsin's economy, but there remain many people who make a living on farms in the region.

Writer Anna Blessing highlights compelling stories of farms in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest in her book, Locally Grown. In her acknowledgements, Blessing described the farmers she met “heroes," who approach their work as a kind of art. 

Pinehold Gardens / facebook.com

If you travel about seven miles south of Milwaukee County's airport, you’ll find one of the last farms that is run full-time by the people who own and live on the land they farm. David Kozlowski and Sandy Raduenz own Pinehold Gardens, and have grown produce using organic methods for the past 23 years.

Susan Bence

'Mushroom' Mike Jozwik has been forging in Wisconsin, and beyond, for years. When it comes to foraging, he says there's always something new to learn.

For those looking to get started, Jozwik shares a few tips:

The number one thing on Jozwik's list is to read up on the subject. "As much as people like relying on Facebook forums now, get a good book," he says.

Here are some of his favorites:

Susan Bence

Growing up in Racine, Mike Jozwik learned to forage with his parents, and loved it. So leading a gaggle of newbies on an expedition 100 miles west of Milwaukee is as natural to Jozwik as breathing.

On land owned by an amiable dairy farmer Jozwik befriended on Craigslist, Jozwik and the group comb wooded parcels. “We’ll be picking basically a bunch of different stuff out there today. Morels should be pretty good out there right now. This is probably the best chunk of the woods,” he explains.

Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library

Like most major metropolitan areas, there was a time when most of southeastern Wisconsin was farmland.  And while the area that surrounds the city of Milwaukee is today home to suburbs and exurbs, there is still much evidence of our agricultural heritage - in many cases, a living heritage.

This summer, Lake Effect is exploring what agriculture means to our region in a series called Full Plate. Help us shape this series, what questions do you have about food and its production?

tofuttibreak, flickr

From The Botany of Desire to The Joy of Cooking to Kitchen Confidential, books about food fill our bookshelves - if not literally our stomachs.