Lafayette Co. couple finding success with vegetable and sheep farm
When Caleb Coccari‐Swift and Eva Denny purchased their land in 2014, their dream of farming someday became a real possibility.
Caleb says a former employer told him about the various practices and programs the Natural Resources Conservation Service had to offer for beginning farmers. Soon the young couple reached out to the agency for assistance in helping to create a farm that met their goals of not only being profitable, but sustainable as well.
Today Caleb and Eva operate King Fisher Farm, a vegetable and sheep farm in the Argyle, Wis., area. The farm consists of 42 acres of land which are pasture, organic vegetable fields and native sedge meadow.
Together they raise micro greens, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and other produce they sell at local farmers markets. In addition to farmers markets, they also sell their hot peppers to a company that produces hot sauce out of Madison, Wis.
To make their farm a success. Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, NRCS assisted Caleb and Eva with the conversion of a sandy, low production crop field to a rotationally grazed pasture for their sheep under the Honey Bee Initiative.
Next, NRCS assisted with installing high tunnels and micro-irrigation for their vegetable operation. They also enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to provide nesting habitat for Purple Martins, and are composting manure and vegetable waste for better utilization and vegetable production.
Through CSP, they also made mobile mineral feeders to allow their grazing operation to work efficiently. In spring 2018, a prescribed burn was also conducted on their sedge meadow.
“It was awesome to see what species came up after the burn. This land is an excellent, diverse habitat of native sedges, grasses and forbs. I’ve even seen plants I’ve never seen in Lafayette County come up,” said Matt Miller, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician.
Caleb says the help from NRCS was critical to their success.
“As beginning farmers, the financial assistance, along with the technical support from our local NRCS staff has made our dream of farming a reality," he said. "Without it, I don’t think we would have made it to the scale we are at now.”
As demand for their produce increases, Caleb and Eva plan to expand their vegetable operation and add a fruit orchard. They also plan to continue managing their sedge meadow for wildlife and pollinator habitat for years to come.