Honoring a New Crop of Local Heroes
By Wendy Allen | Illustrations By Bambi Edlund 0
It’s the 4th year of Edible Madison’s people’s choice Local Hero Awards, and your participation has grown by leaps every year. You, the people of southern Wisconsin, clearly value and take pride in your food and farming culture and want to recognize that these businesses’ and organizations’ important work and delicious food are part of what make this area such a wonderful place to live.
For caring so much about our community and for making our jobs so much fun and meaningful, we here at Edible Madison say “thank you” on behalf of our team and this year’s awardees.
And now: the businesses and organizations who won your vote to receive the 2015 Local Hero Awards! In addition to recognition at the annual awards event, each of the five awardees gets to select a Wisconsin non-profit organization to receive a $500 donation from Edible Madison’s Local Hero Awards.
Blue Moon Community Farm
Blue Moon Community Farm is a small, diverse CSA and market farm that raises pastured meats and more than 40 different organic vegetables (in 200 varieties!) on six acres.
Kristen rotates the vegetable fields with grazed pastures as a natural way to replenish fertility. Fruit trees and flowers add more farm diversity, which Kristen believes is essential to good land stewardship. In addition to the farm, Blue Moon’s website has a long list of recipes that feature each vegetable grown on the farm.
One of Kordet’s nominators wrote, “Kristen rocks! She's growing slowly and consistently and does an amazing job running her business. She's pioneered a new CSA model that gives customers flexibility while still supporting the farmer.” This new CSA model is called a Market Share and allows customers to pay ahead for their season of shopping at Blue Moon’s farmers market stand while also receiving CSA membership benefits. You can find Kordet and her produce at the Westside Community Market in Madison every Saturday starting in April.
Chef Patrick DePula
Salvatore's Tomato Pies
Sun Prairie & Madison
Patrick DePula’s style of “tomato pies” are rooted in the Little Italy of Trenton, New Jersey, his hometown. He draws upon his upbringing in an Italian-American home, where good food was always the center of every family gathering.
DePula doesn’t cut corners when it comes to his tomato pies, and he has awards to show for it. He ferments his dough rather than adding sugar, makes sausage and pesto in-house, sources seasonal Wisconsin veggies and cheese, and sources sustainable seafood from Sea to Table. He recently opened a second location in Madison.
But what really sets DePula apart is his work in the community. DePula is a founding member of the Madison Area Chefs Network (MACN) and helped organize MACN’s inaugural Yum Yum Fest. Nominators were especially grateful to DePula for volunteering to run the school lunch program at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Monona. Here’s just a sampling of the many kind things nominators had to say: “He believes that school lunches shouldn’t be a break from education—they should be part of it”; “Chef DePula is working with our Phy. Ed. teacher to promote healthy eating habits by showcasing a different vegetable item every day at lunch”; and “Chef DePula is a fine example of giving back to the community and sharing his love of food. That’s why he’s our food hero.”
“Respect for every animal on four feet or two” is the slogan for this community butcher shop that opened as a retail location for Black Earth Meats in 2013.
They insist on sourcing meat that is antibiotic-free, humanely harvested, and fairly traded, specializing in antibiotic-free chicken, heritage breed pork, local and Halal lamb and goat, and grass-fed, hormone-free beef. Conscious Carnivore’s nominators had these things to say about their community butcher and retail shop: “Through adversity, this company has persevered to bring the greater Madison area easy access to sustainable meats from farmers that treat their animals well”; “Humane animal harvesting is something we should care about”; and “They continue to fight for a more sustainable and safe food system, even in the face of closure and legal hurdles.”
Conscious Carnivore and its parent company, Black Earth Meats, have had a stressful year (read more about it in “The Meat of the Matter” from our winter 2014 issue), but co-owner Bartlett Durand has emerged more energized than ever and determined to continue bringing high-quality, sustainably and humanely harvested meats to our southern Wisconsin region.
Bloom Bake Shop
Bloom Bake Shop is a small-batch, local, organic and fair trade bakery that serves up all the sweets you’d expect, plus gluten-free and vegan versions.
Maitri works hard to source locally and seasonally, as well as support organic, fair trade, cooperatives, and antibiotic- and hormone-free ingredients. The daily shop, holiday orders, special orders, and catering more than 85 weddings a year keeps Maitri and her staff hopping year-round. Despite such a busy schedule, Maitri believes in “slow food” (baking in small batches, experimenting to find the perfect recipe), donates extra food to local charities at the end of each day, and helps other small food businesses get off the ground—an act of paying it forward in gratitude to the local businesses who, rather than treating her as competition, helped Maitri get started.
One enthusiastic nominator wrote, “Bloom shows that you can make beautiful, delicious and unique baked goods (gluten-free chai donuts! what?!?!?) from sustainable and local ingredients. Bloom builds a community of awesome employees who also care about the integrity and stewardship of those ingredients.” Read more about Maitri and Bloom Bake Shop in “Annemarie Maitri Blooms Where She’s Planted" from our winter 2012 issue.
Middleton Outreach Ministry
As we celebrate the abundance of food in our region through these Local Hero Awards, we are humbled to conclude this list in recognition of an organization that tirelessly serves those in need.
Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM) leads a community-wide effort to prevent homelessness and end hunger for people throughout Middleton, West Madison and Cross Plains. MOM’s food pantry is one of the largest pantries in Dane County and employs a unique model where clients can take as much food as they can use and visit as often as they need. The pantry served more than 4,000 people per month in 2014 and distributed more than 1 million pounds of food. MOM’s mobile food pantry travels to those who can’t make it to the pantry, and a snack bag program ensures Middleton High School students have food to take home or eat during the day.
Building upon its already-innovative approach, MOM operates three food pantry gardens. The food from two gardens goes to the food pantry; the third is a teaching garden, where MOM clients work with gardening mentors to grow their own food. The clients take what they need from what they grow and give the rest to the pantry. In 2014, the gardens produced over 8,000 pounds of food. Dan Johnson, one of the program’s primary organizers, received a United Way Community Volunteer Award for his work in 2012. Read more about MOM in our online-only article, “Second Harvest pt. 2: Growing Community.”
The Local Hero Awards are sponsored by Organic Valley, a La Farge, Wis.-based organic, farmer-owned cooperative with farmer-owners in 34 states. Organic Valley is on a mission to save family farming culture through organic agriculture and provides organic dairy, eggs, soy and produce to food co-ops, natural food stores and supermarkets nationwide.
The Local Hero Awards are also sponsored by Heartland Credit Union, a full-service financial cooperative based in Madison that serves 28 counties in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. Heartland Credit Union’s mission is to provide its members with personalized financial services that contribute to their social and economic well-being.
Learn more about Edible Madison's Local Hero Awards and read about the past winners at www.ediblemadison.com/local-hero-awards.