In Her Boots

Soil Sisters: Kriss Marion of Circle M Market Farm

By Lisa Kivirist | Photo By Sarah Anna Hansen 0

Spin some fiber. Milk a goat. Nap in a hammock. Stay for breakfast. Savor summer flavors. You can do it all at Circle M Market Farm in Blanchardville, Wisconsin, where farmer Kriss Marion runs a diversified operation of vegetables, meats, education and farm-stay fun. 

Come meet Kriss Marion of Circle M Market Farm during Soil Sisters: A Celebration of Wisconsin Farms and Rural Life this weekend, July 31 through August 2. Kriss will be teaching two workshops on August 1: "Wool Friends: Needle Felted Animals & Fairies" at 10 a.m., and “Wet Felting: Messy & Magnificent Wool Projects” at 1 p.m.

Interested in coming to the Tour of Farms on Sunday, August 2 but don’t want to fuss with driving? Sign up for the bus tour and Kriss will be your local guide, sharing stories as you visit her farmer friends on the tour.

Read on to learn more about Kriss, including her favorite summer recipe, Boozy Basil Brownie Cake.


Most interesting occupation before farming:

A "food, features and fashion" journalist in Chicago where I covered topics ranging from "hip high school hair" to the fear of flying.

What keeps you going?

Coffee. And knowing I'm going to get to cook something amazing with the plants I'm weeding. 

If you had a magic wand, you would…

Create a world where everyone spends a year on a farm, finding out where food comes from. Farming makes you eat reverently. 

Personality traits necessary for a successful farmer:

Flexibility, a sense of humor and a desire for daily adventure. 

What is your typical daily farm schedule:

I’m up at 4:00 a.m. to work out. I then take some time to pray, meditate and plan the day. My work crew comes from 6:00 a.m. to about noon. I make a big lunch for everyone, and then I go back out to work or catch up on computer work. I often swim from 4 to 5 p.m. at the local pool in town, then make dinner, clean up, hit the bed at 8:30 p.m. Repeat.

Unusual accomplishments:

I lost seventy pounds in a year a half. I've since gained about a third of those back, but I learned a lot about what my mind and body is capable of. It wasn't all healthy! But it was a good learning experience. I'd like to pass on some of what I've learned and help people commit to balance with food, exercise and rest.

What makes this business rewarding?

Eating and sharing the harvest around the table with my customers, neighbors and friends.

Any farming history in the family?

Nope, but my parents are incredible gardeners and win everything in the horticulture competitions at their local Garden Club.

Weirdest farming experience:

Digging maggots out of a calf’s anus.

Personal heroes:

Michael Pollan and Beatrix Potter.

When you’re not in the field, what are you up to?

I helped found and am now president of our local South Central Chapter of the Wisconsin Farmers Union and am passionate about stimulating grassroots activism in our rural communities. From agriculture policy to school reform, we need to lead and be the change we seek.

Something most folks don't know about you: 

People are surprised when I describe myself as an introvert. Even though I teach a lot of classes and love to talk to people about veggies and cooking, the truth is I probably went into farming because I love to be by myself on my knees in the garden. Listening to birds and watching bugs is how I relax.

Favorite local food artisan:

All the cheesemakers in this incredible land of milk and honey! Thank you for making life wonderful, especially my dear friends Anna Landmark and Anna Thomas Bates of Landmark Creamery. Their Petit Nuage, a fresh, French-style sheep milk cheese, is the bomb on anything.


Be sure to check out Kriss’s unique Boozy Basil Brownie Cake!

Lisa Kivirist and her family run Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B outside Monroe, which is completely powered by the wind and sun. She is co-author with her husband, John Ivanko, of the new cookbook Farmstead Chef, along with Rural Renaissance and the award-winning ECOpreneuring.

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