Farm tour showcases adding value to products

Extension specialist Cole Ehmke

University of Wyoming Extension is organizing a tour of Wheatland-area farms Wednesday, Aug. 1, so anyone interested can see how raw products are raised and sold to the end consumer.

Participants are asked to meet at 9 a.m. at the Chugwater Rest Area on I-25. The group will then travel to Baker Farms. Dennis and Terry Baker have been raising old and new varieties of wheat under USDA organic certification.  After harvest, some of the wheat is milled onsite for use in their own bakery, with some of the flour being used in their Prairie Pies.

“We’ll learn about their progression from large-scale commercial grains production to niche market producer,” said Cole Ehmke, extension ag entrepreneurship specialist. “Terry’s pies will be available at lunch.”

Eckhardt Farms is the second stop. Carol Eckhardt raised Shetland sheep for their fine fleeces, and now processes wool into yarn and then into knitted goods, said Ehmke. There will be a demonstration of her spinning, and those on the tour will learn about her flock and marketing.

“The final stop will be an unusual and highly productive high tunnel at Marker Farms,” said Ehmke. “The Markers have a 9-foot x 18-foot modified walipini (high tunnel set into the ground) used to produce vegetable and flower starts for themselves and for sale in the area. We’ll learn about the structure, how they use it and the things they’re using it for.”

  The tour will end about 1 p.m. Ehmke said participants should bring a lunch (but dessert will be provided). The tour is free, and no registration is required, but letting the Platte County Extension office know if attending would be helpful.

Ehmke said the tour is made possible, in part, through a project funded by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture through the USDA Specialty Crops program.

For more information about the tour, contact LeRoy Jons at cjons2@uwyo.edu or 307-322-3667.