Wisconsin Farm Builds Community Through Local Food Program

Photo courtesy of Nina Much and the Wisconsin Local Food Purchase Assistance Program.

In 1962, Nina Much’s parents purchased a farm on County Road O in Manawa. Their dream was to become pastured dairy farmers and support their growing family. Much was just one year old at the time, and by nine years old, she was milking her family’s cows.

Sixty-one years after her parents originally purchased the farm, Heritage Grange, Much is honoring their legacy by managing a small herd of cattle on the property. She’s also enriching her community’s food system with support from the Wisconsin Local Food Purchase Assistance Program.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service to create the Wisconsin Local Food Purchase Assistance Program. The program aims to strengthen local food systems, support Wisconsin farmers, and distribute fresh nutritious foods to underserved communities.

“A part of me is trying to honor my mom and dad because I know how hard they worked to build the farm and build hope for their kids,” Much said. “I also wanted to do something local. I wanted local people to know where their meat was coming from and that they could actually just drive past my farm and see the animals.”

When information came out about the WI LFPA Direct to Farmer grants in 2022, Much applied immediately. She was one of the 165 farmers to get a grant in the first year of WI LFPA. This provides her guaranteed income through the sale of three of her steers into the program. The additional benefit for Much was the contribution she could make to her community.

At the end of 2023, Much sold animals to the WI LFPA program. Then, the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative delivered the animals to the butcher and then to food pantries. A portion of Much’s meat went to each food pantry in Waupaca County.

“I wanted to be able to make a difference in my immediate area by working with the food pantries within Waupaca County,” Much said.

In September 2023, Much hosted an event on her farm for the Waupaca County food pantry volunteers.

“This new innovative approach – connecting the farmer and the food pantries directly – is helping thousands of families in one county as well as underserved farmers who can provide delicious, nutritious food,” Much said.