Hill & Valley Produce

Brian Wickert
Hillsboro, WI
Organically Grown

Brian Wickert has owned and operated Hill and Valley Produce since 2004. Located in Hillsboro, Wisconsin, the farm is roughly a four hour drive northwest of Chicago. Brian has been involved with agriculture his entire life, having grown up on a farm in Indiana, earning a degree in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, and spending the past 25 years in the agricultural business.

The Farm

Brian believes that it is much simpler to find the value in farming than it often is in other professions. “We grow good food to improve the health of good people,” he says. It is indeed easy to see the benefits of growing organic produce for your fellow man and woman as opposed to say, typing away at a computer in a cubicle all day.

Hill & Valley consists of 10 acres of land, on which Brian grows delicious vegetables such as cabbage, butternut and winter squash, brussel sprouts, garlic, and shallots. He also pools produce from 22 sustainable Amish family farms around the area to help supply wholesalers, distributors, direct-to-store businesses and of course, Fresh Picks!

Farm Practices
Brian is a practitioner of Biodynamic Farming, which involves a spiritual, ethical, and ecological approach to agriculture, food production and nutrition. It emphasizes the creation of a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself.

Brian views his farm as a “whole organism, in which the condition of one part affects the whole.” Biodynamics includes common organic and sustainable practices such as crop rotation, cover cropping, and the use of NOP approved fertilizers and pesticides.

With a relatively small farm, Brian only employs two full-time farmhands, but he does take on a number of part-time workers during the harvest season, which lasts from August through November. His day does not usually follow a routine schedule, but Brian says it always involves “getting up early and going to bed late."

Challenges of Farming

Brian says the greatest challenge of farming is working with nature. “You have to work with Mother Nature, not against her,” he says. Planning ahead is essential, as Brian regularly anticipates that one out of five crops planted will be lost. He also believes that good marketing is essential to being a successful vegetable farmer.

Favorite Aspects of Farming

Brian is quick to point out that working with nature is also a great part of farming, as he has become more in tune with the land, though the weather will always be unpredictable. As such, he has adopted the philosophy espoused by his friend and fellow farmer, Dawane Morgan: “Plan, adapt, improvise, overcome.”

Of course, let’s not forget the satisfaction that must come with helping to improve the health of a whole lot of people by providing them with healthy and delicious organic produce!

Last Updated April 2012

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