Determine the Feasibility of Growing and Processing Organic Grains for the Needy of the Dane County, Wisconsin Area

2014 Annual Report for FNC14-968

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2014: $7,460.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Thomas Parslow
Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens

Determine the Feasibility of Growing and Processing Organic Grains for the Needy of the Dane County, Wisconsin Area


2014 Annual Report

“Best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Taken from a Poem by Robert Burns. He noted the plight of a mouse that was scurrying off after its nest was destroyed by a plow. This might be the best description of our year.

Summary: Several things impacted the project with negative results that question the feasibility of growing organic grains for distribution to food pantries. The late spring delayed the planting of the open pollinated white corn. The corn was finally planted on May 31. On June 7 over 3 inches of rain flooded the plot. A pond in the lower part of the plot attracted mallard ducks for a few days. To say the least, about a third to a half of the planted corn was flooded and did not germinate. The area that had not germinated was reseeded by hand. As “best laid plans” would have it over 2 inches of rain covered the area again reducing production. A dry August did show promise. In September, the crop looked okay and perhaps a crop would be harvested. Seed corn was hand harvested on October 18, but had a moisture level of over 18%.

Ultimately the crop was harvested on December 10. This small amount of corn was moldy and thus not fit for human consumption. No edible crop was harvested.

Outreach: A field tour and two presentations were held during 2014. The field tour drew 8 people that were interested (curious) in the project. A presentation was made at the Verona (WI) Community Gardeners with 43 in attendance. The second presentation was made to the Friends of Anderson Park Board of Directors. This nine member group oversees the development of this new county park with interest in growing food for food pantries. They will consider duplicating this project at a future meeting.

Another attempt will be made next year. The project will be expanded. A private farmer has stepped forward interested in the project and wants to grow white corn. We (Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens, Inc.) have entered into an agreement for the use of additional land at the Badger Prairie County Park to grow edible beans. This is a change from the original plan. It would incorporate the following three year rotation:

Year 1 – White Flint Corn will be grown

Product: white corn flour for a tortilla, a type of thin, flat bread


  1. Major tillage using moldboard or chisel plow followed by disk
  2. Planted in 36” rows
  3. Initial weed control with rotary hoe
  4. Field cultivation will be used to control weeds.
  5. Field will be monitored to identify plants for future seed.
  6. The corn will be harvested with corn combine, dried, cleaned and ground into corn flour. Packaged in 2 pound packages.
  7. Ground corn would distributed through Community Action Coalition or directly to pantries.

Year 2 – Pinto or black bean

            Product: Dry edible beans for salads, soups and other dishes


    1. Major tillage using moldboard or chisel plow followed by disk
    2. Initial weed control with rotary hoe
    3. Planted in 36” rows using field cultivation
    4. Harvested with corn combine, cleaned and packaged in 2 pound packages
    5. Hard winter wheat planted followed by frost seeding of clover

Year 3 – Wheat with clover

Products: Hard Red Winter wheat for pasta, and straw would be available for community garden use. Clover would help maintain the nitrogen level and reduce weed pressure.


  1. Winter wheat would be sowed into soybean stubble
  2. Annual clover would be frost seeded in February or early spring
  3. Wheat to be combined with straw baled into small square bales
  4. Return to white corn