Organic Farming
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Osseo farm family grows a TV audience

OSSEO, Wis. —

Like the breeze-billowing curtains in an open window, Inga Witscher effortlessly coasts from the garden into the kitchen.

Wearing knee-high green boots, a large straw hat and a blue dress shielded by an apron, she harvests rich red rhubarb with a few slices from a scythe.

Singing an old folk tune and carrying a bundle of tart plant stalks into the house with her, she makes cocktails for guests waiting outside in lawn chairs at her rural Osseo farm.

That series of scenes in a short Internet video Witscher made with her husband and father depicts the philosophy of local foods and farming that caught the attention of television producers, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported (

"We wanted to share what we're doing on our farm," Witscher said.

Already a collection of short videos on the Internet, "Around the Farm Table" is making the move in November to broadcast television in a four-episode season that will air in prime time on Wisconsin Public Television.

Like the videos already available online, the upcoming episodes filmed especially for TV will feature farms throughout Wisconsin and dishes that can be made from their foods.

"Basically, find good ingredients and you'll have good food," said Joe Maurer, Witscher's husband and one of the show's producers.

They'd been filming videos for their website for about a year when they decided this past winter to try to show "Around the Farm Table" to a wider audience.

After a few telephone calls, they got the attention of Kathy Bissen, WPT director of production. The show mixes WPT's interest in celebrating Wisconsin life with the rising popularity of cooking shows.

"We know that there is a great interest, almost a resurgence, in cooking and natural foods," Bissen said.

WPT already has a show called "Wisconsin Foodie," which focuses on restaurants and foods found in southern and eastern Wisconsin. The program, now between seasons, will return early next year. Adding "Around the Farm Table" to the channel's lineup covers food produced in northern and western parts of the state, Bissen said.

Witscher said she's not a gourmet cook and her recipes are simple adaptations of dishes she learned from her mother or obtained from other inspiration.

"I'm not some chef," she said. "I milk cows. That's what I do."

The show's focus is on fresh ingredients from Wisconsin farms.

Deutsch Family Farm near Osseo provided lard and organic, humanely raised pork for a meat pie made in one show. Honey and buckwheat flour made at Honey Hill Apiary in Maiden Rock became part of a couple of recipes - including gluten-free pancakes.

Bissen finds Witscher's warm, friendly personality helps her connect with audiences.

"She's very personable," Bissen said. "Not everybody can reach through a television screen and speak to a viewer."

Witscher's humility comes across in a web short of her visit to Rampfest, a festival near Viroqua that celebrates a root vegetable similar to leeks and garlic that grows in Wisconsin maple forests.

She starts the episode by professing she doesn't know much about the plant but eagerly learns about it from a festival organizer. She concludes the video by enthusiastically sampling a dish made from ramps.

Before agreeing to air any episodes, the TV broadcaster requested a pilot show that would establish a template and test of how "Around the Farm Table" would work in a half-hour time slot.

Witscher and company made the pilot during winter. Scenes include ice fishing on Half Moon Lake in Eau Claire and a visit to learn about cheese made at Castle Rock Organic Dairy near Foster.

Lonesome Stone Milling in the southwestern Wisconsin village of Lone Rock provides flour for Danish rye bread, which gets sliced and topped with homemade butter.

Producing the four episodes took about 1 1/2 months, while they also were farming.

"We're also milking cows and making cheese in between," Maurer said.

They got help from their farmhand, Craig Speerstra, a UW-Eau Claire student originally from the Whitehall area.

By mid-September, most of the editing had been finished and Maurer was adding a musical score made of their original music.

Music is one of the hallmarks of the show as Witscher occasionally sings a folk tune she learned on the farm when she grew up or recalls a classic John Denver song.

Her husband said the music continues offscreen too.

"We sing nonstop," Maurer said.

Rounding out the trio of musicians/farmers/show producers is Inga's dad, Rick Witscher, who formerly ran a dairy farm in Washington state before turning it into a golf course. Later he moved the family to Virginia where they operated a bakery, creamery and cheese shop.

Rick Witscher still makes cheese, with his current product an aged Cheddar made from raw milk of grass-fed cows. The cheese is wrapped in cloth and aged for one year in a cave before it's sold.

He'd bought the rural Trempealeau County farm to pass down to his children. Only Inga - who hadn't previously run a farm - showed interest and began milking cows there in 2006.

She and Maurer married in June 2012, and Rick sold the farm to them a year ago.

Inga Witscher and her husband tend a herd of 15 Jersey cows on their 30-acre organic micro dairy using techniques passed down through the Witscher family.

"My first memory was walking fields with my father and intensively grazing cows," she said.

She employs "rotational grazing" by moving the herd every 12 hours to a new part of their pasture to graze on naturally growing grass. Then they fertilize the recent feeding ground with composted cow manure and allow the grass to grow back before the cows feed on that section again.

Their decision to run an organic farm came from their beliefs, but also for practical reasons.

"It was also a way to cash flow a small farm," Inga Witscher said.

Organic milk fetches a consistently higher price at market, and grass-fed cows do the work that farmers typically need a tractor or combine to accomplish.

Witscher's brother gave them a tractor, but it doesn't operate and they don't have plans to get it running. Their farm has a practical mix of old and modern farming technology.

For example, Witscher uses a scythe for gardening but found the one modern machine the farm depends on is a skid steer.

"I think we embrace technology," Maurer said.

His father-in-law quickly added, "But cow technology too."

Both the show's producers and the network are excited to see viewer reaction to the show when it airs in November on Thursday nights and likely in reruns in WPT's schedule.

"We're really enthusiastic about 'Around the Farm Table,' " Bissen said.


Information from: Leader-Telegram,


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Sanatana Pages: Organic farming and the centrality of the cow

Sanatana Pages: Organic farming and the centrality of the cow | Organic Farming |

Subhash Palekar Raises Agriculture to Spiritual Levels

For over sixty years, Indian agriculture was in a slumber. Our lands were scandalized by an unknown thing called as synthetic fertlizer. This was done to help the farmer get a 'better' harvest.

As the farmer started using it, he immediately noticed that, his soil had become infertile and could no longer bear crops for the next season. He was advised to add more and more fertilizer to the soil to compensate for the nutrient loss. Soon he was faced with another threat. The plants that grew with fertilizer needed pesticides. Soon, he started using these pesticides, which are deadly poisons. He noticed that the pests had become resistant to these chemicals as time went by. He was puzzled.

Our farmer forgot the ancient lesson that the soil HAD LIFE. He forgot that there were natural laws that governed the soil which his ancestors had obeyed from time immemorial. By thus obeying the laws , they had taken bumper harvests and had kept the land well cared for and transferred the land intact for posterity.

Subhash Palekar

It was at this time that a great mind set out to work in this field. He himself was a graduate of Agricultural science from a 'modern university'. He set out to work in his field using the British devised ways of Fertlisers and Pesticides and became an utter failure. He also ruined his land.

Then he set out to research on how our ancestors did so well in Agriculture without any of these chemicals. He consulted the Vedas, and the ancient wisdom literature. The result is a revolutionary, path breaking method, which Sri Subhash calls as 'Zero Budget Natural Farming'. Sri Subhash tried his method in his own soil and replicated it in various other fields tasting success every time.

An inspired Sri Subhash set out to teach this method to his countrymen. He has so far conducted not less than 1000 workshops, all heavily attended, to spread this new way of life for farmers.

The fundamental concept in Sri Subhash's work is that
1. Soil does not need nutrients to be added.
2. The soil has micro organisms which GENERATE NUTRIENTS for the soil.
3. It is possible to revive a fertliser damaged soil back to the natural ways.
4. That the new method require no money to do Agriculture.

Fascinating, is it not ? Read on for some more.

Sri Subhash says the pivot of 'Zero Budget Natural Farming' is the desi cow. He says that the desi cow's Urine, Cow dung and Milk have all the qualities required to rejuvenate the soil. Just ONE desi cow, says Sri Subhash, is all that is required to maintain a 30 acre Farm. He laments that the Desi- Jersi hybrid cows are of no use in his scheme of things.

What a sad thing ? The desi (country) cow is now has such a dwindling population that we need to revive them on a war footing. I wondered why the hybrid Jersi cow is unfit. A publication of 'Govardan', a voluntary organisation for Cow protection, says that the high yield Jersi was produced by crossing a wild pig and an Australian cow breed !

Sri Subhash has some formulas to revive the soil. One is 'Jeevamrutam'. This is not a replacement for Fertlizer , he says. Jeevamrutam is only a catalyst for the soil to generate its nutrients. He says that the 'organic manure','earthworm manure' are fads and are another recipe for disaster.

Sri Subhash condemns the university taught concept of burning the leftover plants after harvest. He says that these are to be left over in the soil itself by turning them over into the soil. This process of 'Mulching' helps the soil prepare its own manure.

And what about pests ? Subhash maintains that a naturally grown plant fights pests. But the plants in transit in chemical ravaged field can be protected by simply prepared 'natural pesticides' which arwe usually buttermilk, pepper and such simple combinations.

The Government Sponsored Chemical Mafia

A govermental survey states that the fertliser subsidy alone was abot Rs 13,000.00 crores in the year 2000. Add to this the pesticide subsidy and the farmer's burden. A report says that the pesticide business in India is the fourth largest in the world! Imagine what would have happened if the money is spent on raising desi cows, strengthening ponds and lakes, and protecting the village fiorests !

There are some criminal agricultural scientists who sit and lord over every governmental commission on Agriculture. These are the very people who are in hand in glove with the synthetic mafia and have been the cause of so much decline in production. Sri Subhash has alleged that our country imports foodgrains of about 5 million tonnes every year. This fact is not known to many Indians. The governments cheats here also.

Recently, a central minister went on record stating that poor Indians are eating more and this is causing problems. It is no wonder with such people at the helm, our Agriculture remains without policy.

Osk Reddy's curator insight, August 24, 2014 1:00 AM

We wish to bring to your notice that the "Green Universe Environmental Services Society (GUESS)" head-quartered at Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India was established in 1998. Since then we have been promoting various eco friendly concepts, pro-environmental initiatives and sustainable development projects. With our vast field-level practical experiences we have observed and noticed that the farmers of our country are facing severe crop loss issues due to wild boar & wild animal attacks, frequent natural calamities, global warming effects, non availability of labour, cost escalation and climate change issues. It is known fact that many of the wild animals have shifted their habitations from the forests to farm fields due to man-made mistakes such as severe deforestation and high level destruction in the forest areas. 


Due to the above situations the farmers who make 70% of the Indian community are leaving agriculture and migrating to the urban habitations in search of livelihoods resulting in many of the villages are becoming deserts and the population pressure is at high level in urban areas which is causing various social & economic issues. It is fact that the most of the countries are shifting towards naturals in all walks of life and the demand for natural products is ever increasing and it is time to throw light on promotion of different eco-friendly sustainable farming measures & concepts to the struggling farmer community.


Keeping in view the alarming situation faced by the farming community due to wild boar & animal attacks which is great concern to the society today we have come up with an eco-friendly, cost-effective sustainable solution of "Henna Bio Fence." It is non-grazing & pest-free because it is astringent & pungent in nature which can be an effective NPM measure, sustains for longer period hence it is perennial, drought tolerant because it can pass through severe climatic situations, creates additional man days through raising & post harvest measures and also generates income because the demand for natural dyes is ever increasing. Hence "Henna Bio Fence" can be an eco-friendly cost-effective sustainable solution in place of highly expensive solar, chain linked mesh & barbed wire fences and can act as income & employment generating measure.


Natural dyes are pro-environment and obtained from renewable resources with no health hazards are traditionally used since ages to impart color. There is renewed interest in the application of natural dyes throughout the world today, as eco-friendly norms become stringent and the awareness about protection and preservation of environment grows day by day. The entire world is facing the side effects of synthetic products and there has been increasing interest in natural dyes, as the public become aware of health issues, ecological and environmental problems related to the use of synthetic dyes. Henna as natural dye is being used in Textiles, Handlooms, Leather, Beauty & Health Care, Cosmetics and Tattoo Industries etc. 


Considering the above facts, concerns and in light of the multi beneficial advantages, as responsible NGO we have initiated this "Henna Bio Fence" project to help the struggling farmers. We request for financial collaboration to impart trainings, to create awareness, to transform the concept and to provide input cost to encourage an eco-friendly, sustainable and cost effective "Henna Bio Fence" to the farmers to protect the crops from wild boar & animal attacks and to improve their income levels. In addition to the crop protection measure there is lot of scope for employment generation through value addition and marketing. 


Henna Bio Fence is also useful as NPM, NTFP, SMC & NRM measures. The Decoction of henna leaves because of its strong chemical composition can be used as Bio Pesticide for all the crops which reduces the pest management expenditure for a longer period. It also controls the cross pollination (Isolation) issues between different crops. Henna Bio Fence in one meter width all along the periphery of the crop fields in multiple (6-9) rows with close spacing will become as thick & strong fence which completely arrests the wild boar and animal attacks. Reducing crop loss itself is great benefit to the farmers and as well to the nation and also there are many social & economic advantages in addition to the crop protection measure. 


Keeping in view the above facts, we request the International Organizations who are very much concern about environment & global warming effects for financial contributions from Carbon Trade Funds, Environment Protection Funds, Ecological Balancing Funds, Global Warming Budgets, CSR & CER initiatives to provide them an eco-friendly, sustainable and cost effective "Henna Bio Fence" for their farm fields to protect the crops from animal attacks and to improve the income levels of the farming community. Hence, we request your kind attention towards a noble cause of "Vruksho Rakshathi Rakshithaha" by providing them the input cost from different possible funds & measures to help the struggling farmers who are feeding our Nation. The detailed project report will be submitted after hearing from you. We await quick response in this regard to make this pro-environmental project successful. We are hereby providing the YouTube link of promo film on Henna Bio Fence for information.


Henna Bio Fence Video Link:


GUESS - Henna Bio Fence - English  :


GUESS - Henna Bio Fence - Telugu  :


Thanking You



Best Regards




Ph. No. 919494947894 / 919848028410 /

Web Site:



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This farmer in India had been using synthetic fertilizer to grow his crops. Because he used this he noticed that the soil became Infertile and he couldn't grow new crops for the next season. Since he could not grow anymore crops he started using more and more fertilizers which in turn led to having to use Pesticides. He had forgot the whole kind of law set in place about how the soil has life and was better than any other fertilizers or pesticides.

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