Cultivating a sustainable future

DANIELLE BOERSON STANDS behind her stand at the Green Lake Farmer’s Market. Boerson is there with her vegetables every Friday. Ariana Hones photo

by Ariana Hones

On a sunny Friday next to Green Lake’s Town Square, Danielle Boerson is selling “all the vegetables of spring.”

Along with her husband Mat and two children, Danielle runs Boerson Farm. The farm is currently located in Princeton, but in transition to its new home just miles outside of Green Lake.

Growers of certified organic vegetables, grass-fed beef and free range laying hens, the Boerson family is entering its 11th season of business.

While listening to Danielle help customers with picking out radishes and greens, or describe the work of the family farm, it quickly becomes clear the farm’s growing practices were created with profound intentionality.

“Our objective is to minimize fossil fuel use and minimize tillage,” Danielle said. “This means that soil will be disturbed less and remain more closed off which allows it to hold nutrients and moisture better. We want to work towards a system where we create the beds, aerate, add compost and then just keep adding compost each season, so that we are building soil.”

She added “the best food possible come from soil that is alive and has minerals in it and can hold water.”

The farm’s practices are trying to keep carbon in the ground as much as possible.

Most of these plans will be implemented at its new farm, where the family is excited to both “put [their] roots down” and for the quality of the land, as well as the chance to create a farm exactly the way they want it.

“How many times in your life do you get to design your dream farm?” Danielle questioned, smiling.

“We are working on a system that will create these permanent beds where it will be possible to plant really intensively, so instead of expanding we are going to shrink down the growing space to about an acre and intensively plant all the market and CSA [community supported agriculture] vegetables with some perennials mixed in,” Danielle said. “We want to keep bringing on more perennials. It is a hybrid system going forward.”

Although she never imagined coming back to her and Matt’s hometown of Green Lake, Danielle described the “aha” moment of WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) with Mat.

She realized they could create something sustainable by working outside and being part of the elements and they could do this in a community they long-called home.

“I think it is in our blood,” Danielle said.

Now the challenge for the Boerson family is how to expand its reach in a world filled with processed simple foods. Danielle described how the solution to that is constantly asking, “What does our customer want?”

The farm now sells vegetables like snacking cucumbers that can be eaten similar to baby carrots, as well as offers more flexible buying options for vegetables through its market-share program it works alongside its CSA program.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions” Danielle said.

After all, Danielle and Mat’s dream and solution started with asking questions.

Danielle believes it begins with asking, “what do [we] need for a high quality of life?” In terms of food, individuals may look in their refrigerator and see what can be sourced for a local farm.

Every Friday in Green Lake and Saturday in Oshkosh, the Boerson Farm tent is set up at the Farmer’s Market.

People may find Danielle there, ready to offer assistance in assembling the perfect salad or burger and they also will find the enthusiastic appreciation for community that Boerson Farm offers.

“We just really love this planet and we see we can do something that has a long term positive impact and we want that to ripple out — at least in the form of carrots and ideas and healthy people,” Danielle said.