By Allison Duncan
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATHRYN GRACE
By Allison Duncan
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATHRYN GRACE
Alden Hills Organic Farms owners Levi and Emily Powers are not what one would describe as typical farmers. In fact, neither of the so-called ‘city people’ ever pictured they’d one day not only work on a farm but also run their own. When looking back on the couple’s upbringings, however, all of the signs pointed to this eventual outcome.
Emily grew up visiting her grandparents’ dairy farm near Madison, Wisconsin, where she formed some of her most treasured childhood memories. Levi unintentionally ended up farming in college after his parents bought a small herd of cattle with the intention of raising food for their family, but it was never meant to become a working farm.
“Emily and I don’t necessarily fit into most traditional farm molds,” says Levi. “There is a really cool revolution happening right now with more young people coming to farming with no prior experience, and I would say that we fit that.”
Levi joined Alden Hills in 2014 as farm manager, previously working in the lighting industry. Emily became Alden Hills’ full-time farm co-manager, social media marketer, and the overall glue that holds the farm together in 2016 after working as a social worker. Together, they now manage about 500 acres near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and deliver to the Barrington area.
“I found myself sitting in a cubicle every day and really didn’t enjoy that,” says Emily. “Even though social work was a very fulfilling career, I had a passion for local food and knew that’s where I wanted to be.”
Their favorite parts of the job? “Morning coffee and the ever-changing daily work challenges that come with life on a farm,” says Levi, and “Working with both the myriad farm animals and the farm customers,” says Emily.
Alden Hills Organic Farms has one mission: to provide its customers and their families with the healthiest, highest-quality pastured meats that they can raise. They believe that wholly nourishing food comes from building a farm ecosystem that enhances both soil and animals. Alden Hills meats are Certified Organic and guaranteed grass-fed, grass-finished, and always out on pasture.
“Certified Organic means that we don’t use any chemical pesticides or GMO inputs,” explains Levi. “We believe that raising food in a natural environment without chemicals is the only way to ensure healthy food.”
Choosing to be Certified Organic is not an easy decision but it’s an important tenet for Alden Hills Farms. Levi and Emily believe that receiving a USDA seal of approval stands for something. It means that they are making a covenant with customers to be held accountable. The farm undergoes third party audits and assessments so customers can have confidence that the products are organically raised and GMO-free.
The farm specializes in grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, pastured pork, and eggs with weekly home delivery routes throughout Chicago and Milwaukee. Customers can also order online through aldenhillsorganicfarms.com or stop by the Walworth, Wisconsin farm store, which is open seven days a week.
Grass-fed beef has been shown in studies to have lower ‘bad’ fat levels while having more ‘good’ fats (think Omega-3s) than corn-fed beef. It often tastes better, too: Grass-fed beef offers juicy, flavorful, and tender beef. And because the beef isn’t pumped full of supplements, hormones, and genetically modified grains, the end result is better for both the customer and the animal.
A few of the most popular Alden Hills items include farm-fresh Grade A eggs that combine great flavor with vibrant orange yolks; rich and flavorful bone broth that’s simmered for over 24 hours and is perfect for soups, flavoring meals, or even sipping on its own; tender, juicy, hand-trimmed, and dry-aged steaks, and savory pork sausages. Alden Hills also offers a selection of seafood and fish, syrups and honey, pet food, and more.
“We realized that we both had a deep passion for local food and took the opportunity to take the farm and turn it into an actual business,” explains Levi. “Everyone farms for different reasons, and we’ve found that we really want to raise the healthiest meat possible for our customers.”
With two kids of their own, ages 4 and 2, Levi and Emily are also committed to raising the next generation of farmers. This summer, they’ll offer a Friday kids’ farm class during which children will enjoy a hands-on experience with cows, chickens, hogs, sheep, rabbits, and bees. They’ll gather their own eggs, wrangle a chicken, and more.
The duo says there’s no typical day on the farm—and that’s the way they like it. Often, they’re up at 4 a.m. for a quick coffee and planning session. Then, it’s everything from deliveries and making hay to packing orders and sales calls.
“The things that never change are moving and feeding our animals,” says Levi. “A major part of being a pastured meat farm is that daily chores always involve moving animals to fresh forages, at least in the summer.”
This summer, Alden Hills will offer a specialty Grill Master’s Box and Steak Night Box, both of which come with perfectly pastured and regeneratively raised grilling options. The farm also offers shares of meat, available starting in July. Thirty-five pounds of meat is included in 1/8th of a share.
We have no beef with that.
For more information, visit aldenhillsorganicfarms.com.