Peck and Bushel Fruit Company in Colgate doesn't just offer an organic alternative to your favorite apple varieties. Wisconsin's only organic apple orchard also offers a return to the old-fashioned fruit-picking experience. That is, they're focused more on making their apples taste delicious, and less on frills like bouncy houses and pony rides.
After experimenting in his own backyard with organic growing methods for over 20 years, Joe Fahey and his wife Jennifer purchased over 70 acres of sun-kissed land with views of Holy Hill in 2009. They've been nurturing it the earth-friendly way ever since.
They use no synthetically manufactured chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers. Instead, they use plants like crabapple trees to attract bees to do their bidding. They use a trellis system, similar to a vineyard, that enhances air flow and allows more sun to get in. They use a clay and kale based spray that acts as a bug irritant and sunscreen. And they grow apples that are meant to be grown in the Midwest.
To complement Joe's natural growing methods, his wife Jennifer packages it all up to reflect the farm-country atmosphere of their land. Everything from the rustic wooden signs in the orchard to the red and white checkered covers on their jars of applesauce is a testimony to her knack for marketing.
The result of their efforts is an orchard filled with 6,000 dwarf apple trees, boasting 800-foot rows of luscious red Honeycrisp apples and yellow Blondies with a sweet banana-like flavor. Of course, some varieties didn't turn out so well this year, like the stubborn McIntosh crop.
But Fahey doesn't seem bothered by the challenges that come with trying to accomplish what some believe is impossible, or at least too difficult to try. With his orchard in its infancy, he seems to enjoy perfecting th…Read more...
Having taught in Milwaukee Public Schools for five years, I get to see great teachers educate young minds every day. Ordinary days are filled with extraordinary moments in classrooms across the district. We usually don't hear much about these daily acts of dedication and compassion. As do most things in life, they go unnoticed, except perhaps by the students whose lives they touch.
But at Ronald Reagan IB High School, where I teach Spanish, Wednesday was a different kind of day for one teacher who stood out among educators across the nation.
Anticipation was building as every student at the school filed into the auditorium this morning for a surprise assembly. The jazz band played its upbeat tunes and television cameras surrounded the area. Dignitaries from around the city of Milwaukee sat on the stage happily chatting among themselves.
State superintendent Tony Evers was there. Our district superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton sat next to him. Mayor Tom Barrett joined them along with School Board Director Meagan Holman. School principal Mike Roemer was there, too, of course. We knew something was happening, but we didn’t know exactly what. Perhaps a visit from the Governor? Michelle Obama?
After some enthusiastic words from Dr. Thornton, a representative from the Milken Family Foundation in California announced that one teacher from our school had been selected for their prestigious national educator award.
The winner of one of the 2013 Milken Educator Awards, or the "Oscar" of the education world, would also win $25,000 that they could spend as they wish.
The honor ultimately went to my colleague Sarah Berndt, a Spanish teacher, technology teacher and school newspaper advisor at Reagan IB.
Berndt accepted the award to a standing ovation. She was composed enough to say a few words of gratitude to her students and comment on how she couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Those who work with Sarah witness her dedication to excellence every day, through her…Read more...