Growing support for local farms at community event

Winnowburrow Farm finds support from Benefit for the Bounty event


Photography by Rachel Helgeson / Bonnie Warndahl, owner of Winnowburrow Farm, speaks about the importance of local farms at Benefit for the Bounty in Menomonie.

Rachel Helgeson

Organic bluegrass music is flowing from behind the windows of the Raw Deal coffee shop. People inside are bustling around a table set up with information about a farm named Winnowburrow and the necessity for supporting locally grown food production. Other tables hold merchandise that display a logo for “Benefit for the Bounty”.

The event by Benefit for the Bounty featuring Winnowburrow Farm was held on Friday, Dec. 7 to support local farmers like Bonnie Warndahl. Warndahl said she believes farming at a small, organic scale is one big step toward keeping water, soil and air clean.

“Imagine a world where there aren’t big industrial farms but there’s lot of small family farms that are really caring for the land,” Warndahl said in an interview at the Benefit for the Bounty event. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that large-scale industrial agriculture is one of the top contributors to the problems we’re having in the world today.”

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reported tens of thousands of acres of Wisconsin’s waters are negatively affected by agriculture alone. Large-scale agriculture is also a leading contributor to air pollution, according to researchers for the Geophysical Research Letters.

Warndahl, along with her husband Josh, pursued their own farm so they could begin protecting, nurturing and regenerating the land.

“As I’ve come to my place in land stewardship, which is probably my primary driving force, it became obvious that farming is a big really important part of that,” Warndahl said.

Currently, wildflowers are a major part of her cultivation and are used for weddings and events.

“I do about half production of cut flowers,” Warndahl said. “We sell bouquets at the farmer’s market in St. Croix Falls, which I love, and that feeds my artist part of my soul.”

Along with wildflowers, Winnowburrow produces herbs and seasoning mixes along with free-range eggs and staple vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, salad greens and others.

A large goal for Winnowburrow is to save species of seeds which are dwindling, called heirloom seeds, Warndahl said.

According to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, heirloom vegetables, like the tomatoes Winnowburrow grows, are of a vintage variety passed down through generations. The National Restaurant Association reported in 2017 that heirloom vegetables were among a top ten restaurant trend.

Warndahl said she has dreams of having a permaculture-based farm, which would work as its own ecosystem. In this ideal, she would plant perennial fruits, vegetables and nuts which aren’t as demaning to grow and have deeper roots.

“Annual crops and a lot of the vegetables that we eat leave the ground bare a lot of the year and don’t as reliably produce food like perennial foods do,” Warndahl said.

On Winnowburrow Farm’s website, Bonnie and Josh Warndahl write about the importance of community for small local farms and thank those who have supported their organic efforts.

With events like Benefit for the Bounty, Bonnie Warndahl said she hopes more education and awareness can be formed around the idea of local farming to increase participation and consumption of organic foods.