Annual 4-H focus on agricultural careers tour
Anyone can grow a crop but growing soil is a skill that Will Allen and the volunteers and workers at Growing Power have mastered.
The focus of the entire tour was on career opportunities in agriculture and about the many related jobs that most people don't think about when looking at agricultural careers.
Tour guides at the Milwaukee-based Growing Power told Dodge County 4-Hers and others attending the annual 4-H focus on agricultural careers tour Wednesday, July 24, that the work of growing soil is actually done by little red worms.
Vermiculture, as it is called, fills a greenhouse at Growing Power, a small city farm that produces food, prepares youth for life and helps struggling urban Milwaukee families.
The vermiculture operation of Growing Power influences everything else that goes on there. The process begins with discarded fruits and vegetables from local food panties, restaurants, coffee companies and brewery waste that are placed in a pile to feed the worms.
The compost is the basis for the other parts of the whole sustainable system that includes raising fish, vegetables and fruit, poultry and beekeeping. Goats and chickens are also a part of the complex.
The three-acre farm is a source of healthy, inexpensive food for many Milwaukee residents and also provides jobs and learning opportunities for many inter-city Milwaukeeans.
Nidera and exports
The Dodge County 4-H group also visited Nidera, a business that exports millions of bushels of grain raised in Wisconsin. The former Continental Grain facility, located in the port of Milwaukee, is over 100 years old but still serves as a major link in marketing agricultural commodities.
At the facility, the 4-Hers learned about the checks and balances that are in place to insure the quality of the grain being shipped to make sure it meets the specifications of the customers. Since ships come into the port from all over the world to pick up grain, they also learned about the role of the Homeland Security in protecting the port.
Clock Shadow Creamery
The tour included Clock Shadow Creamery in downtown Milwaukee, the city's first and only cheese factory. The parent company of the business is Cedar Grove Cheese Factory at Plain, WI.
Clock Shadow Cheese produces fresh cheeses including cheese curds, and Quark, a European style, fluffy, mild spreadable cheese. The company also produces cheese for the Koepke Farms at Oconomowoc and makes cheese for a Delafield dairy farm. The Koepke family sends 7200 pounds of milk a week to the Milwaukee plant to make LaBelle Cheese that is marketed throughout the Milwaukee area and at four locations in Madison.
The 4-Hers then visited the Koepke farm, where the youth learned more about the care of the dairy cows and the number of jobs that are created through their family business.
The Koepkes milk 330 cows and milk is marketed through Dairy Farmers of America and shipped to plants around Wisconsin and northern Illinois. A small portion of their milk is handled separately and trucked into the Milwaukee cheese plant.
Wisconsin Equine Clinic
A final visit included the Wisconsin Equine Clinic and Hospital at Oconomowoc, a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital for horses.
There they learned about the types of research that is done at this farm and the different techniques used on the farm to treat horses with a variety of ailments. They also visited the operating room where the veterinarians perform surgery on horses and learned how the horses are sedated for the surgery and how these large animals are physically moved onto the operating table.
The trip was made possible with support from Badgerland Financial.