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Articles by Brian Lavendel

Brian Lavendel is a freelance environmental journalist who grows his own veggies in Madison, Wis.

Featured Article

It’s an overcast day outside of Stoughton, Wis., the village that claims to have invented the “kaffee break.” But a warm cup of java seems far, far away from Pleasant Hill Market Garden, where farmer Rob Baratz fights off the early morning, chilled wind with gritted teeth and a hand-rolled cigarette.

Baratz, up on the farm.

Brian Lavendel.

I find him out harvesting a few late strawberries, seemingly out of place on this early fall day. “It’s been a hard season,” he confesses, then quickly adds, “weatherwise, I mean.”

Baratz, 40, lives on the farm with his wife and nine-year-old son. He says he’s been challenged by a wet spring and droughty summer, but he knows he’s got it better than most of the family farmers in Wisconsin. The state is losing an average of 1,000 family farms each year to historically low milk and crop prices and cut-rate competition from factory farms.

Baratz has been able to avoid the pitfalls many of his fellow farmers face because his produce has a guaranteed market: Baratz is a Community Supported Agriculture farmer. CSA ... Read more