We have designed our tours to provide you with a great combination of education, storytelling, and entertainment value. We are passionate about the beauty of our area and the sustainable family farms and related businesses that dot our landscape. We want you to have the ability to connect to your food sources–a true farm to fork experience.
The tours offered will be ever-changing, but we have many producer partners and various business partner sites we have formed relationships with. Each of our tours is about four hours in duration with 4-5 destinations and finish with a meal. We truly aim to connect our participants to the best of SW Wisconsin. Each stop focuses on education and engagement with our partners and there are opportunities for tastings and retail purchases along the way. Add Marty’s storytelling and you have a tour full of fun and good times. A true value for your entertainment dollar.
As we have been adding tour locations, we have separated our sites into two tours. One on the East side of Richland county, mostly towards Cazenovia and the other on the west side of Richland County, near Blue River. Logistically, we needed to consolidate our tour stops for travel time purposes. We actually cover quite a bit of ground and there is no straight way to go.
We affectionately called our two tours the East coast and West coast tours. (Just imagine the Pine River as a much bigger body of water!) We needed to name the tours something and we find it easy to designate them EAST and WEST Coast. Each tour is uniquely different and we are excited to show you the best our area has to offer! The only site that overlaps both tours is Oakwood Fruit Farm during the apple harvest season from late August to November.
Because each tour is completely different, you will want to consider doing both tours. The storytelling by Marty will be completely different and the sites you see will be quite varied. We travel some truly beautiful back roads and you will see the Driftless area in a unique way. No need to worry about getting lost as we know these hills! You will find yourself completely off the grid and disconnected from your everyday life. The nature of our area will renew your spirit and restore your soul. Come have a great time with friends and family.
Our current partner list below is growing every day and is no particular order. Remember, we are working with farms, and farm life is unpredictable with possible last-minute changes necessary due to circumstances outside of their control. It is possible a specific farm may need to be switched out at the last minute but we will do our best to substitute another dairy farm or goat farm, in the rare case this situation arises.
If you would like your agricultural/ecological local business added to our offerings, please contact Marty through our contact page.
Our first partner site is a local dairy operation, Hatfield Organic Dairy. Dennis and his wife Ginny have recently acquired organic certification and will be offering their milk through Organic Valley. They have a story of triumph over much adversity, as they recently suffered a fire in their operation and subsequently had to rebuild. The process of getting organic certified is fascinating and you will be sure to love the passion Dennis & Ginny exhibit. They will have some tasty Organic Valley samples for you to try.
We have brought on Nate & Kayla Duren, Blueview Farms of rural Cazenovia. They milk red & white Holsteins and Jersey cows with high butterfat content exclusively for Carr Valley Cheese.
They have approximately 45 cows they pasture during the day on rotationally grazed fields. And their farm operation is truly a throwback to a style of farming not seen often anymore. They milk in a tie stall barn instead of a parlor. On our tour, you will be able to get up close to the cows and hear how a young couple is making their dream a reality in farming.
We are very excited to tell everyone that we will be going to a goat dairy farm in rural Cazenovia. Chad McCauley & Robin Loewe have been raising dairy goats for the last 3 years. They milk approximately 100 alpine and Nubian dairy goats and they provide milk to Carr Valley Cheese for their goat milk cheeses & artisanal goat milk butter.
Chad and Robin are very proud of their operation and are very excited to share their passion with our tour participants. We love how our participants will be able to get up close to the goats and enjoy them. Chad and Robin are a great example of how a new start-up in niche farming can still make it in our ever-changing world of agriculture.
After a visit to our dairy partners, we follow the production of the milk from field to barn to our next stop, a cheese factory.
Carr Valley Cheese, our neighbor
s up the road, is owned and operated by the Cook family. Carr Valley Cheese Company is over one-hundred years old, and remains one of Wisconsin’s traditional cheese plants, famous for making cheese the old-fashioned way! They are best known for producing high-quality, artisanal aged cheddars, but have also crafted over 50 original varieties. They are dabbling in artisan-made butter as well. A visit includes a tasting of their excellent cheese curds–so fresh they squeak!
As we continue thru the rolling hills and lush valleys of SW Wisconsin, we come to one of our major anchor vendors, Hillsboro Brewing Company. Storytelling is a big part of our tours and HBC has a story everyone loves. Meet Snapper and his wife Kim, along with their crew, as they expand into their new brewery location and continue to restore buildings to their former glory. Connecting the businesses of SW Wisconsin in this tour and telling each one’s story is important. A tour of the new facility and a tasting round out the experience. In the restaurant, the full menu is available and meals can be ordered in advance.
During the apple harvest season (August to November) we will offer a stop at Oakwood Fruit Farm, with our friends and neighbors on the ridge, the Louis & Alvin families. A family tradition for over five generations, Oakwood Fruit Farm has over 180 acres of orchards and vineyards. A brief tour and sampling with a stop in the Apple Retail Shop will complete this tour.
We have added Narrow’s Creek Winery to our list of partners. We recently had a delightful tasting with owner Dean Baumgarten, and he has a very engaging style. Dean and his wife, Vicky are examples of the true entrepreneurial spirit and are really enjoying their new business in their retirement years. They are the third generation to live on their farm near Loganville, WI and they are making some really great fruit wines. They also have a unique opportunity for customers to come in and make their own wine. Dean will coach you along in the process and help you with the bottling. What a great concept!
We love our Ridge and Valley topography. It is the perfect place for those wanting to engage in a more sustainable method of agriculture and the perfect lab for the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish! Our partner sites expose you to the best of Richland County and connect you to the stories of the people behind this growing movement in SW Wisconsin.
We are excited to announce Weggy Winery has been added to our West coast tour. They have been growing grapes in our community for over 26 years. They actually have the most vines in the Midwest of any winery, growing over 11,000 vines, on over 16 acres and they grow over 30 different varieties of grapes. They also have 8 acres of fruit trees and berries in their orchards.
They have a great retail location as well. You can purchase cheese to pair with your wine and find the perfect gift. Such a great stop to taste and see the best of Richland county. Join us our West coast tour and enjoy a little vino at Weggy!
We head to the farm of Darrick and Melissa Luck by Blue River. They have Yaks on their farm which they sell for meat, Maple Valley Yak farm. They also raise Scottish Highland cattle, free-range chickens and guineas. They have quite a menagerie of animals. Their operation truly embraces the entrepreneurial spirit of the Driftless with a niche business perfectly suited to this area. They run Old Wood, New Use-a salvage operation curating some of the best hardwoods in this area as they take down old barns/buildings. They offer reclaimed barn boards, timber frame buildings, log cabins, hand-hewn beams and much more. You will have an opportunity to learn more and see their huge selection of vintage and antique items for sale. We will be serving Yak sliders as a tasting at this stop-they are truly delish!
Another partner we are excited to work with is English Ridge Orchard. A farm operated by Corey and Sarah Everts, our hosts and agriculturists. They will love to educate and delight participants about their pork operation. A true rarity, they raise their heritage breed hogs on pasture and then fall finish them on apples, producing some very tasty brats and pig roasts. It will truly delight you to see the antics of pasture raised pigs! Frank, the tank-is their large boar. He keeps the lady pigs happy and the farm growing. They have a few different heritage breeds, such as Gloucestershire old spots, large blacks and now added a Chinese breed called Meishans. We will be having stone-fired pizza at this stop in the evening-farm table style. The view of the sunset from English Ridge is truly breath-taking and Corey is a New York trained chef that is excited to make his famous pizza for you!
What are heritage breeds or heirloom varieties, you ask? They are plants and livestock breeds that are important to maintaining food resilience because they are breeds often more capable of withstanding diseases and environmental changes. Most modern plants and livestock varieties share a similar history of selective breeding. In an effort to shift the tide and preserve the genetic diversity of plants and livestock, many agricultural enthusiasts are turning to heirloom/heritage farming.
We are delighted to include partner farm- Horse Creek Ranch, owned by Claudia & Jerry Berres. Claudia, a chemist, is passionate about the soil, conservation methods and sustainable agricultural practices. Claudia & Jerry have over 300 acres of land, mostly in Marshall Township. Their land was owned previously by the late Avery Marshall, former Richland County Ag extension agent, and they have continued Avery’s legacy as diligent caretakers of the land. They use solar energy to supplement power for their home and farm, including supplying water to the cattle. They partner with an Angus beef farmer to provide 6 months of well-maintained pastures with the best variety of forage. Their conservation of the land and water has led to a well-stocked pond and management of run-off. A stop at their farm will educate and connect consumers with the very best in regenerative practices. The beauty of their location will delight all who love the scenery of the Driftless.
Horse Creek Ranch will alternate with our other partner, Littledale Farm, owned by Graham and Margaret Phillipson. LIttledale Farm and their Bed & Breakfast are located on beautiful English Ridge. The bucolic setting of their farm, where their sheep peacefully graze on the hills, is a show-stopper in our area. They masterfully raise the best of the English hill breeds, train purebred border collies for herding, and have livestock guardian dogs. A stop at Littledale includes a tour of the farm led by Margaret and a demonstration by Graham of masterfully working the stock herding dogs with the sheep. They sell their grass-fed market lambs for meat, shear wool in the spring, and offer naturally tanned sheepskins for sale. Experienced guides, Margaret and Graham have led tours for groups on their property for many years and we are so lucky to have them join our experience.
Horse Creek Ranch and Littledale Farm will join our premier tour on a rotating basis. We are excited to expose consumers to these amazing farm practices and draw attention to the work our farmers are doing.
We have some of the best craft farms in the area with very passionate owners. Our tours will open your eyes to the fragility of our food system in America and the possibilities of sustainable agriculture. Our tours are all about connection. Connecting you to the land, your food source, and nature, while connecting our partners to people with an appreciation for their efforts. We can also connect you to resources to make your own dreams become a reality and make recommendations of reputable businesses. We offer our services to provide you with a custom experience with endless possibilities. Marty has been here all of his life and knows the people behind the heart and soul of the Driftless. The stories need to be told and we want you to delight in a place we call home.