Our second vendor for our Local Vendor Spotlights is BeefnBeaks Farm out of Waterloo. Kris got so excited in her first answer (that we loved so much not only for its passion, but its insight) that we decided to share that answer and her answer to other questions.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your mission, your family and/or what you create or farm.
We are Dan and Kris Paape. We live on a 150 acre farm in Waterloo (near Lake Mills). We bought this farm in 1989 where 3 of our 4 kids were born. We were city people, really, (an engineer and an art teacher for 16 years and now culinary student), who just wanted to find a nice place in the country to raise our family, and this farm came on the market. Back then, it only cost $120,000, so we bought it. The house was a complete wreck, but we were young and naive and decided to take on the project! A neighboring farmer was renting the land growing corn and soybeans and using pesticides on our fields. We honestly didn't think a thing of it - that is, until we saw the movie Food Inc. If you've never seen that movie, make sure you do - it's a must see! That movie turned us on our heels and we began to realize that we were renting our land to a factory farmer and that pesticide he was using was poisoning our water supply. There is a farmer, Joel Salatin, from Polyface Farm in Virginia, who, at the end of this movie, speaks about how farming in the United States has become a disaster, and he spoke about having the answer to our food problem; so, we began watching all of his YouTube videos, and then began farming the way he does. We even got a chance to meet Joel a few times and saw his farm - some people binge on Netflix, we binge on Joel Salatin videos! :) My husband, Dan, being an engineer, even improved on what some of what Joel does because Joel has a lot of help, and we just have us.
We then began going to farm auctions and buying old farm equipment that was selling for dirt cheap and next, we nicely asked our farmer friend to leave as we decided to take over the land ourselves. We turned those soy and cornfields into pasture and bought four hereford beef cows to graze on it. We now have 31 cows. They fertilize the land for us and their trampling hooves wake up different varieties of grass seeds that normally wouldn't grow. It is similar to what the bison do to the land out west. They actually heal the land, even desert land comes to life if you add life (cows, bison or buffalo) to it. And sure enough, soon our own land began the healing process. We were seeing butterflies and birds coming back to the land that we hadn't seen in years. Nature was coming back to the land, and that is exciting! Farming this way is basically just returning your farm back to nature, the way God intended, with animals and the land working together keeping each other healthy. If you let animals do the thing they were created to do, you will have success! Our land wasn't meant for pesticides and pesticides are killing our land. :(
Also, as Joel Salatin suggests, if you follow the cows in the pastures with "eggmobiles" (moveable chicken coops), the hens will pick through the old cow-pies looking for fly larvae eating it and loving it (chickens are omnivores NOT vegetarians), they not only keep the fly population down, but their manure also helps to fertilize the land with its own blend of nutrients. These healthier (and happier) animals make healthier meat and eggs.
(I could also go on and on about pigs and how they are supposed to work in nature - it's super fascinating too, but we don't have pigs at the moment!) Sorry - I get passionate about these sorts of things. :) If you want to know, just email me. Lol!
2. What are you most looking forward to regarding the Whitewater Grocery Co.?
Seeing what you all come up with - how the store will look, what events and activities you will offer (because you all are so awesome and creative!) and the community building a huge project like this is going to create. Congratulations to you for taking on such a huge project and for supporting local farmers who work so hard to produce great, nutrient-dense food for everyone who wants it.