125. Community Building Pizza Farm | Bill and Julie Ross | Good Roots Farm and Gardens | Brookings, SD
I am super excited to introduce some new guests that I think everyone’s gonna be interested to hear because they have something new at their farm, they have started a Pizza Barn Farm growing nite … ok, I’m just gonna let you explain that. Plus some people might have heard, Mike and I basically fell in love in this place called Ekalaka, MT which is about as far across the state as you can be from her in Eureka, right next to South Dakota border and so coming from Good Roots Farm and Gardens, is Bill and Julie Ross. Their Facebook Page is amazing.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Julie and I was raised on a farm in Brookings SD, and Bill was raised on a ranch in Wyoming! And farmers and ranchers should be friends you know! So after a career in international development and broadcasting, and quite a few years of ministry, we inherited 40 acres of my family’s farm. When we moved here we thought what are we gonna do?
We started doing some gardening for fun for our own family and sons, we have 4 sons, before we knew it we had all sorts of ideas for how we could use our farm to help build community and use organic practices, so we converted a regular farm to an organic vegetable farm. So that’s what we do and now we’re excited to be expanding to use our vegetables to have a pizza farm here we were can raise almost all of our own ingredeints. And also an event farm where people can have weddings and community events. And we’re just thrilled.
Bill’s a full time farmer! I still have my work at home job, for a little bit longer. But we are thrilled to be in South Dakota where it’s cold in the winter and nice in the summer and continue to build people, planet and profit.
Excellent, I think people are going to be excited to here this, I didn’t mention the events include weddings, do you want to tell listeners a little about that?
When my parents passed away, we had this beautiful 100 year old barn that was falling apart, it was such an anchor on the homestead we really wanted to renovate it. So we are starting to renovate the barn so we can use it for events.
We have a wood fired pizza plan, we have one of our own. We’re have to have a commercial one for the business so we are adding a commercial kitchen adding that to our barn! The barn is gonna be the focal part of our farm so we can events and dances and upstairs in the loft! And for our stairways as well, it will be an open stairway with cattle panel for our open stairway. WE what to keep it looking really rustic
How big is Brookings? Is it a town?
We are actually on the eastern side of South Dakota, we’re as far away from Ekalaka as you are. About 25,000 people, plus a 12,000 University population. It’s a small town, but we’re in very good agricultural land.
Our farm is a mile and half from the University, we have students who not only live on the farm with us, have projects on the farm. We have pumpkin projects, biochar and the University wants to do a study on medicinal herbs. We love the fact that we give a lot of tours. We teach people work with our soil to augment it, they come out to see what our bugs are, and it’s just providential that we live next to a University. The thing that is novel about us is we have conventional farming in every direction. There are just a handful of farms that are organic, and we are not certified organic. We were told to avoid all the paperwork, and just do that practically. We make that definitely known! We have Farmer’s Market and were CSA gardeners.
Unusual in the way use a lot of , right in the middle of a lot of herbicides and pesticides and of course we don’t use any of those, so we’re pioneers, and a long haul on how to construct a community on better way to live.
I decided that I’m gonna call those some great golden seeds.
FULL SHOW NOTES COMING SOOON!
Tell me about your first gardening experience?
Bill: I’ll start I grew up in NE Wyoming on a ranch in the Black Hills, my grandfather was the gardener of the region he had a large garden and many of chickens
and I grew up with him on the ranch and I just got naturally indoctrinated. When I was in Jr. high, high school I had a pumpkin patch, was my first experience. When we got married, moved around a little bit, we had a small house with a small yard. We always had a patch garden wherever we lived, before we came back here.
Julie: My first experience would be with flowers. She was a city girl, didn’t even know how to make coffee if you can imagine that.
Anything that came from the ground. Lo
I enjoyed her flowers
wasn’t particularly good or natural, it was really a challenge for her!
I have loved keeping a lot of flowers, so we have
our backyard now is
beautiful flowers and different kinds of pollinator gardens. So now with the expansion into all of the wedding things. I never did much in the way of vegetable gardening. Way to expand the way Bill enjoys.
What does organic gardening/earth friendly mean to you?
Bill: I just naturally have always been a little leary of using extra synthetic chemicals and pesticides or chemicals, reading Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening Magazines.
mimicking the natural value
as we see more and more results of the damage of synthetic chemicals can do, I think we’re on the right path.
They were just saying on the news just this morning right before our call started that the temperature has risen 2 full degrees. This year, one of the hottest years, one of the most unusual years. I think those chemicals are a little linked to that.
Who or what inspired you to start using organic techniques?
Those are the two main things…
How did you learn how to garden organically?
I would just say by watching him first, by us experimenting! I like to experiment and think outside the box, and it just became natural, when we learned about the beneficial insects that you can use, again that’s just mimicking nature and finding that balance.
inspired, there were so many internet tools. As Bill was pulling me along to increase my learning curve, there is so much on the internet now, all last winter, he is super focused
He selects something for me to watch on the internet. A piece here, another farm story, another garden story, or little clip or website. That’s how we has introduced me to a lot of the concepts on our farm, when I do the farm tours I own it 100% now! I love to be outdoors and help!
It’s take advantage of all the stories online
Share what you do. Part of our farm community
they have one daughter
how the daughter has her own little garden
every time we profile someone else’s success
It breeds success for a way to think that you eat seasonally locally eat what’s fresh. so everybody wins and we love the fact that we’re a learning farm!
My podcasting group comes from a theory of abundance. The best thing about podcasting to me is that you can do laundry.
Some recent ones
Farmer-to- Farmer Chris Blanchard
Webinar Practical Farmers of Iowa
every Tuesday night… archive
Joel Saletin practitioner from the Modern Farmer
Lexicon of Sustainability is a multifaceted media project, it involves books, videos, these learning curves in living green. They have these great big posters about 30 of them profile a different I am one of the ambassadors, the curators of the public shows. We have presented a lot of these dynamics of healthy sustainable farming to universities. Your mind will just blow its circuits how much is online and there is to learn.
Tell us about something that grew well this year.
Tomatoes are always working good, eggplants, cumbers, we just had a really good year and the rain came just right, we had adequate rain!
We grow a lot of heirloom products. The vegetables don’t exactly look like the perfect.
Use a lot of heirloom seeds, we visited on our vacation, last year in Iowa. When we had our kale crop. We stopped at 12 different harvests, so as people learn how to cook with kale. We had an unlimited supply. The last harvest was after Thanksgiving. We extended the last harvest was in January with high tunnel extension. Our carrots, our Kale was still growing.
Kale that was still outside with snow on it.There are certain things we put them in the high tunnel and certain things we put outside so we can maximize our harvest.
One other thing that we raise that’s a little novel in our area is aronia. The name for it is choke berry not to be confused with coke cherry
6 acres in aronia. We’re going it for commercial sale, very high in anti-occident
banded together with 100 other famers in Iowa and we will all sell our aronia for the same price at the same time.
doesn’t taste good off the vine
learning how to make foods with it and of course huckleberries
plants that are indigenous to our area, that have been under focused in the last century and they have side uses, all sorts of vitamins and cosmetic products and all sorts of food products.
How did you connect with these farmers in Iowa did you goto a conference?
We love to go places and learn. The man who is head of aronia use
looking for a cash crop that was pretty reliable and wouldn’t cost a lot to start, and we learned of him and we went to one of his conferences and learned about the merits of aronia.
So we are one of his producers, we went to one of his weekend trainings
weekend fest that come to, and it’s been a fun thing to hook up with other farmers and
Aronia. It’s interesting that SDU is now working with extension and the got a grant and when we raised our hand and said we were growing Aronia they were absolutely fascinated. So there were people who come to visit our farm.
any even small garden, it would be good, berry for juices and pies that a small farm can do.
we will have 5 acres
It’s not naturally sweet, so I will often pair it with huckleberries or strawberries. If you freeze the berries, and just use them, or a handful of them in your smothie in the morning.
Where do you get your seeds? Or is it a bush?
We get plants that they propagate down from Sawmillhollow.com
quite a few. He was the first Aronia farm, started 15 years ago
see how it goes
harvest potential is to create more money then you would farming with soybeans and corn. I think naturally that’s gonna happen and as people notice that, it’s gonna be the proof of the pudding, that these kinds of cash crops on the side
can be more a better way of making a living then the conventional corn/soybeans that have to have a lot of pesticides, so we’er excited to be pioneers and proof and the pudding.
I’m really interested in aronia because we’ve tried to plant blueberries, and I’m really interested after talking to David Smetterling in Missoula, so we’ve had 20 acres of forestland and so we’ve been focusing on building lawn for years, and converting our forest land to lawn. But I am excited to kind of go the other way a little more with more natural pants that don’t require irrigation.
Dolly sheep, they would be a perfect example of an animal you can bring on your farm that eat everything but the berries. There are some really innovative livestock options, to protect the harvest. God has created everything to synergistically work together.
Dolly is just a miniature sheep.
We just got 4 sheep. There just shetlands not miniature.
Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?
Were gonna be adding some pollinator strips, around the barn and farm to build up the pollinators and beneficial insects. Getting the barn going and pizza wood fired oven going and using most of the ingredients from our farm.
since we do a lot of tours, and weddings and corporate company picnic, we want to ask if we can do of course an age appropriate small tour of the farm so we can increase our education. We’re gonna put a sign on the highway, a lot of people have told us when you do you have a lot of people come and visit. We have a lot of junior farmers, who are kids who love what we do, so we are gonna have them as they can in the summer!
Lots of fun ideas to ease into
begin with the end in mind and let life evolve, we’re excited ourslves to see how the community of believers increases
samples pick out of our garden
We’ve coached some young farmers on how to do high tunnels how to figure out how to get started. It’s funny we considered at our age, we’re just starting the 60s to flex all sorts of ways…
So I have to ask, do you have some tips for high tunnels? We did our tunnels though NRCS, Andrew Malucelli, he’s already hit the record for all time downloads, like 1300 downloads already, and it was just a couple of weeks ago…
They were helpful it just took longer for us too, it
almost delayed a year
going with that for 4 years.
I can get out in January and have my hands in the dirt
we’re in Zone4B
we’re gonna extend our growing season
early spring till Christmas
a house within the high tunnel
experiment and innovation for plants that need
people say can I sit in your high tunnel in the winter
gage int he bedroom
tell what the temp is
use our fan
how to be successful
tractor that you have
we have an old
one of the things we could invest
BCS walking tractor for tilling and plowing
hopefully it’s gonna last my children’s lifetime
our gardening strategy
Market Gardener Book
if you haven’t heard of him
how you can make a good income on a small acreage with him
walk behind tractor
with the roots getting eaten with certain plants
need to invest in a million bugs and we solved our problems.
What kind of bugs? Like some kind of bacterial?
Just lady bugs. Problem solved. They’re just a beneficial insect!
Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.
Mostly things are working gradually, somethings are average. I can’t think of anything that didn’t work. It’s been going really well.
I like that answer! Very inspiring!
Something that you find is easy to grow and is generally successful every-time.
Greens are good to grow. I would say since we incorporated the High tunnel. I would say with the tomatoes, where you can can control water on them
cucumbers and peppers
eggplants. Just being able to control the environment. It’s really beneficial to work with the high tunnel. This last year we just had too much abundance. But living in a community, where theres’ not a lot of people who go to farmer’s markets. I canned as much as I could, and we ended up giving really quite bit of produce away to young people who are organically minded. And you can think of that 2 ways as either I gave it all away, or you can can also think of it as seeds planted. I made a lot more friends in the 20 age range, I taught one of them to can.
did some meals together
ebb and flow
WE thought maybe we send some of produce to mind
sell it by honor, where people just leave money and take what you use. That was something really hadn’t anticipated what do you do with a bumper crop? So we’re calling back a little this year and that’s sort of where first got the idea of a pizza farm
other way to use our veg as our community comes in tune with the merits of organic food.
My listeners have heard me talk a lot about AERO, which is this local organizaiton, it stands for Alternative Energy Resource Organization. And they have a cottage foods class coming about that where you use the food you grow, either as pickles or baking breads etc. Encouraging people to do that, that’s a big thing right now, farmers need more markets to take their produce. Mike and I have struggled with that, getting enough to get going and then not enough to take everywhere. You’re such a natural educator and concerned about teaching people to care for the environment as much as making money!
Something you would steer new gardeners away from that you find is typically challenging to grow in your climate.
IDK if I would steer anybody away from anything. Think of ways to adapt, pressing the box going outside the box, thinking
stick with things that work in our zone
an example of my high tunnel, we’re in zone4b, but I consider it zone 5, and a
inside my tunnel, I already have tomatoes up in growing and flowering (March 7, 2016) and its gonna give my tomatoes a small state so I have tomatoes in May not Aug. So that’s how I think.
We visited a thing years a couple of winters ago, they winter gardening in a big plastic greenhouse, but what they did, they used gutters to collect water, they planted plants in the.
planted things hanging
everybody could pick some things on the way home
They’re so much innovation for creative thinkers
fun discoveries like that we get.
I just went on this amazing whirlwind trip to Paris, they had a guy who wa a whole et up like that. Then they had one greenhouse full of parsley
Ever since I talked to here, I pircutred ou r organs because
we’ve been reading about Germany? Germinate
seconds who just feature them at less price
what a great thing
one of the things I was gonna mention
asked the lady who had the gutters suspenders
who is your main purchaser
the majority of them are people who are sick with cancer
who are people
Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.
I don’t like cleaning up at the end of the season
that’s not really exciting or fun for me
that’s kind of a drag for me
what we’ve been doing is when we have our pumpkin ride
volunteer their hour of help to help clean up the garden…
we just use our loppers, garden weight carts
chop and dig
I wish I knew of some fast secretes
hard labor not that inspiring for me
What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.
I don’t mind weeding with a hoe, if you can take your time and you’re not pressed
listening to a podcast
if you have it mostly under control
he wears his headphones
Julie: I don’t like bending over, I don’t like it then my throat feels weird
I can sit when I wed around me.
I love to harvest
find creative ways to present things
farm to feed
produce that in our own garden
raise my own herbs on our porch
raise them out a little bit further then outside my door
farm to table meals
to pick the choicest things for my salads.
I like to wander around the garden and help people find exactly what they are looking for
What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?
put a seed in the ground and water it and see what happens
make it simple and make it fun.
if you’re not doing something you enjoy
when I coach people on exercise
find something you enjoy
get your weeds when their super small …
Is there a favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be?
Speaking of weeding I use a colonial hoe from Johnny’s Elliot Coleman type
I like gloves. That sounds silly, I don’t have time to
do I have time to spend time
come back and not have a good wash up
invested in boots that are all rubber
switch my life painlessly
for a few minutes or a long time
give me the lifestyle that I want
Have the right apron. Deep pockets I can put my cell phone in one. Armed and ready to go!
Do you have any tips for eating or harvesting vegetables or fruit on time?
Just succession planting. My tip, where you just plant a little bit, so it doesn’t all come ripe at the same time, with a narrow harvest season
planning with some crops it’s easier to do then others.
fine tune your succession planting
big window in our kitchen dining room
germinating for now 6 weeks,
planted all of our flowers
tomatoes are over a foot tall already
Do you have any secrets for preserving food-making it last?
I’m a believer in getting training when I can, invested
what do you want of Christmas
2 beautifully recommended
Palin old recipes to more exotic things
in my commercial kitchen gonna be a teaching
teach in a store in my community
moved the whole architectural schematic so we could have a pretty good situation
not only me, but people who want to teach flower arranging or wquitlitng
trying to figure out sugar alternatives
who wants to use sugar al
not just feeding a sweet tooth
huckleberries and aronia
learning how to can well
interesting time dense process
label everything if this experiment
give them away for christmas
keep notes for everything I can
recipes that I can use
feel like I have some
huckleberry jam is letter perfect
freeze a basil pesto that stays nice all winter long
dry herb mixes
people just love getting these gifts of dried onions/
I’m by nature a learner
using fresh ingredients
can and dry
shred it, lay it on the food dryer
then you can throw a handful!
A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?
We have organic chickens. do that with any kind of veg
cut all the veg the same size
doesn’t work with potatoes or sweet potato
bake it in the oven at 350º
at the end of the week for the fall and the winter
I bought an emergent blender
whatever meat is left over in the fridge
cross purpose cooking
spend a couple 3 hours on the weekend
pesto tomato sandwiches
learned you can take kale or chard
blanch it really quick, press it into balls, smaller then a baseball in your hands
put the balls in a sack
add 2 fruits, whatever you have
throw in one of your green balls
to make a protein
planning greek yogurt
there’s your protein source
chia seeds or whatever you want
little balls of greens to add smoothie
I buy all my
we have a big orchard
maybe just doing applesauce do juice
our new trees aren’t old enough
when I buy in bulk from another farm
free in sacks
salads in smoothies
I don’t buy much fresh produce
freezers are an interesting thing
how to harvest from the freezer
whole bunch of smaller boxes
a week worths in a box
tricky to stock your freezer so it’s most user f
A favorite internet resource?
so many out there that I like
Johnny’s one that I use
permaculture up in your area
there’s so many shows webinars
A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?
The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming
Mother Earth News
The Dirty Life a Memoir of Farming, Food and Love by Kristen Kimball! I love this book the reason is
never in a million year s would I have thought we would move back, when you inherit you have to
alien thought how I would spend the last years of my life
build my curiosity and sense of humor
NY Times Best Seller
and she goes to interview him
affectionate look at how she becomes enamored
the animals and the cooking a charming read
first person stories
families who decide to go organic for a year
very valuable for couples or women to read
when they are following
as a side note,t they’re still going strong.
can you believe this their CSA farm is so much they raise unlimited amounts
for 100 families or 1000 families?
when you subscribe
you can get unlimited supplies of what you want
vegetable and the fruit
once in a while they have to say
paper clips in her ears
girls didn’t shave with the farm
wonderful pizza farm
victrola for their music
I did decide then and there…
If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?
Just 4 years..
my advice would be to really know your market.
over expanded too fast for our market
educate educate educate the people
to educate people on organic food,
we know we can grow it now, benefits of local and organic
getting people to our farm
is not easy
seems like a slow boat but it really works
all contributes to filling the pot
junior farmer in upper grade school
work with one specific school
that grade could come out for a farm day
contributory in the kinds of things that we do
novel things that we do
friend who has her llamas out here
barter for people to bring their animals out
eyes bug out of the innovation
they begin to ask the right questions
learning how to ask
I love it! You guys are awesome!
If there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
Bill: I would see the change I would like to see is that we learn how to live more sustainably and especially with renewable energy. You mentioned solar, really developing getting off the grid as much as we can and use renewable energy ties into getting the garden and food with less chemicals and less gasoline and diesel fuel. Just really learning how to live sustainably is a big passion. I think we’re pushing our limits with traditional agricultural methods.
One of the things we’re gonna do next is build a straw bale store
Bills built a couple of straw bale buildings. We’ve been talking to bankers, its such a new thing in our area, but they are all over certain places, so we’re pioneers in our neighborhood. We’re interested to integrate more solar and to do our part in the climate that we’re in to show how to survive and thrive in the basic elements that are challenged.
I never realized there was such a huge school of learning around good dirt! I just had no idea about that. with my dad being a conventional farmer.
it takes a long time to get your dirt healthy again Bill has people come out and people check and we do soil teseting
if you have great dirt you can do anything! Of course you have to sun and water
coming form the world form international development and industry, I was wondering if we could make a switch and we could not be just takers we could to be givers too
it’s almost a spiritual experience out there, to work with mother earth.
home in the lifestyle in that we lead, not only was it a thrill to help other countries that are emerging to help find the right crops to raise and ways to do things so their lifestyle could be sustainable. Now we can do that too!
How do we connect with you?
Our Facebook is Good Roots Farm and Gardens
Try to keep that updated about every week, you’ll see everything from soup to nuts there.
we profile everything weddings and pizzabarn
shortly adding more weight to the plain old vegetable strategy to build our clientele from CSA and farmer’s market…
just put in a brand new website that coordinates
need to add in more as to what our plan is
friends of the farm
really maximize on community building
adding that whole dynamic to that
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