Dela Ends owns and operates Scotch Hill Farm and Innisfree Farmstay with her husband Tony. Scotch Hill has been in the FairShare community as an endorsed farm since 1995, and Dela served seven years on the FairShare board. Along with Lisa Kivirist and Kriss Marion, Dela was as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Wisconsin to allow home bakers to sell their goods without a commercial kitchen license. She shared with us what inspired her to branch out from small-scale vegetable farming to larger systems work.
“Growing vegetables has definitely led to a passion for food. Being a FairShare grower and former board member has led me down may more paths. I’m now on the MOSES board. We’ve been active in many farmer training programs and also the Wisconsin Farmers Union. Advocating for home bakers was a big issue which we won and it’s and inspired by being a farmer.
I’ve been living in rural Wisconsin for over 25 years. We’ve had a CSA for 24 years. In the beginning no one knew what CSA was in our area. We always had to explain. Locals were skeptical. Banks were more skeptical. Amish neighbors felt a little kinship to us from a distance.
Over the time I’ve lived in rural Wisconsin I’ve seen many family farms fail and more and more consolidation of farms devastating our countryside and community. Our little farm sits amid big cash grain operations highly dependent on chemicals and fossil fuel. Interestingly a number of Amish neighbors are now also certified organic by my certifier Nature’s International Certification Service, NICS. For all the frustration of living with conventional farming so close there is a glimmer of hope seeing organics growing too.
Nonetheless, it’s hard times for all farmers and their tiny towns. Ever since the economic crash of ’08 and ’09 it’s been harder for us. It’s not just the economy but also the climate change and facing the fact we are getting older. I’d been lobbying with the WI Farmers Union for the Home Baking law for a number of years because the Pickle Bill, which allows home canning, was such a good fit with CSA and allowed me to make and sell canned goods from surplus for fall shares and winter markets. I thought home baking was another logical income stream for me and other CSA growers. Adding farm product value and adding on farm income streams just makes sense. We have a ready market with our membership and they are so supportive.
When Institute For Justice asked if I’d be a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state to fight for the rights of home bakers I said sure, thinking this would likely be quick and easy with the help of lawyers. After 6 years at least of unsuccessful lobbying, it actually took another two years and national media pressure on the state to make it happen. But thanks to the Institute for Justice, we finally won and the ban on home baking was ruled unconstitutional. All that to help others have an opportunity to add another income stream to help ends meet was totally worth it. We want to stay on our farms. We don’t want to watch our towns die. We need to repopulate the countryside with sustainable growers like CSA farmers. I’ve always been of the “small is beautiful” mentality. That’s what CSA and homemaking are.
There are still some glitches for the state to work out but onward we bake as we grow in this challenging world we live in.”