This past week I participated in a tour of two organic farms in the Lincoln area, Common Good Farm and Branched Oak Farm. These are both excellent examples of entrepreneurs in agriculture in southeast Nebraska. The tour was initiated because a group of dieticians from the Veterans Administration were interested in touring and learning more about organic farming and local food production.
Common Good Farm has been growing and selling organic food in southeast Nebraska for 17 years. They are currently located near Raymond, northwest of Lincoln in Lancaster County Nebraska. Last week when we visited their farm, they were having a plant sale of vegetables and herbs. This sale will continue this weekend. Common Good Farm is owned and operated by Ruth Chantry and Evrett Lundquist. They farm full time, growing 45 different kinds of produce and 4 acres of vegetables and herbs. Their primary focus is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), where members purchase shares to receive a weekly box of produce through the summer. They also sell at the Old Cheney Farmers Market in Lincoln on Sundays and sell seasonally to Open Harvest, a natural food cooperative grocery store in Lincoln. Common Good Farm also has a pasture-based organic laying flock of Rhode Island Red chickens that produce eggs year round. They butcher grass-fed beef and pasture raised pork annually, usually in late fall or early winter. They sell direct to customers off the farm and to some local grocers and restaurants in Lincoln. To find out more about Common Good Farm, go to, http://www.commongoodfarm.com/index.html.
We also toured Branched Oak Farm, an organic grass-based dairy near Raymond that is owned and operated by Doug and Krista Dittman with help from their two sons. The farm is 230 acres, located
in what is sometimes called the Bohemian Alps. Doug and Krista have been together on the farm since 1999. They first raised and sold grass-fed beef and free-range chickens. Now they have a herd of Jersey dairy cattle, and the main product they sell and make on the farm is cheese.
Initially Branched Oak Farm and ShadowBrook Farm, another organic farm and goat dairy near Denton, southwest of Lincoln built a creamery together on the farm and formed Farmstead First, LLC in 2005. Krista made cheese from their cows’ milk and Charuth Loth, from ShadowBrook made cheese from their dairy goats. Both operations have grown and Branched Oak processes its cheese on the farm, while ShadowBrook currently processes their cheese at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Food Processing Center. They hope to open up their own cheese making facility on their farm this summer. Branched Oak Farm has several types of cheeses it produces on the farm. They sell cheese off the farm, at the Hay Market Farmers Market in Lincoln and the Old Market Farmers Market in Omaha, at Open Harvest Coop Grocery Store and Ideal Grocery in Lincoln and Whole Foods in Omaha.
Doug and Krista also have developed an Intern Program on their farm. They have some land where interns are learning how to develop their own enterprises and grow and market fruits, vegetables and livestock in exchange for labor, food and a place to stay. This is a developing project. To learn more about Branched Oak Farm go to, http://branchedoakfarm.com/about.php.