Businesses stick to local food cycle

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Posted Tuesday, April 22, 2014 -- 10:30 p.m.

It's a three-way-cycle, you could say.

From the farm, to the grocery store, to the compost ... and back around again.

We'll start at Vitruvian Farms in McFarland.

Farm co-owner Shawn Kuhn showed me around this afternoon, explaining that they "try to produce food that not only tastes good and is healthy for people, but is also grown in a way that is sustainable for the environment".

Kuhn and his friend Tommy Stauffer, along with a third individual, started the business about three years ago.

"We cut that row two days ago, and it's currently in Willy Street Co-Op," Stauffer explained as he pointed to a row of cabbage.

Willy Street Co-Op in Middleton is the next stop in the local food cycle.

"Vitruvian farms grows bags of lettuce, greens, spinach... we put that in our salad bar," Michael Byrne, the store manager, explained.

He said that although the products in his store may be a little bit more expensive, the extra investment pays off.

"If you just fill your kitchen pantry and refrigerator with things that support some place on the other end of the planet, that's not as good as supporting a local economy."

The cycle goes on, of course.

"We generate waste, we save that waste in bags, it gets picked up by Sanimax, [and] they take it to Purple Cow," Byrne said.

Purple Cow Organics -- not far away between Middleton and Waunakee -- is the next stop on the list.

There you'll find multiple piles of steaming compost.

"These piles will just be steaming... they're full of energy, full of temperature," said Steve Stumbras, a Purple Cow representative.

"Full of temperature" is right -- 130 degrees to be exact.

"Why wouldn't we work hard to accept these really valuable residuals that the grocery stores are providing us and [take] in back to the farmers?" Stumbras asked.

Back to the farmers is exactly where the compost goes -- much of it right back to Vitruvian Farms -- where the cycle begins all over again.