By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Putting their own spin on growing in the next phase
Hammerand Family Farm
Walter and Dorothy Hammerand have dedicated a large portion of their lives to feeding people.
Stopping in at their roadside produce and goods stand, you’ll find Walter out in the yard wearing a “I’m your Farmer” T-shirt while Dorothy diligently unloads dozens of fresh eggs into a garage fridge.
 Jars of pickles, jams and jellies line the garage wall ready for an eager customer to make their purchase.
The Hammerands have both been farming and marketing in some way, shape, or form for nearly their entire lives.
“I remember being this big (Walter gestures implying his days as a young lad) and we had a big asparagus patch when I was growing up,” Walter recalled fondly. “My sister would go and cut down the stalks and I’d follow behind her pulling a wagon and loading them up.”
 Rich History
Walter and his family had a rich history working the land and farming dairy cows throughout Iowa.
Walter notes that his dad shared memories of his grandfather running a team of horses to Dubuque in 1905 to sell vegetables in the streets of the city to folks hungry for the fresh country produce.
“They didn’t set up at a farmers market, they would just peddle them on the street,” Walter said with a touch of pride recalling his family history.
Walter himself went on to continue dairy farming on his own for several years. However, in the mid 1990s his life took somewhat of an unexpected turn. Dairy farming was becoming less profitable and he knew the winds of change were blowing.
“I was a broke farmer,” Walter said with a chuckle. “I would go up to Gays Mills and buy bulk oatmeal, it was the cheapest healthiest thing I could find to eat. One day I was up there and saw Organic Valley (OV) was looking for vegetable growers. I knew some things were going on up there (In La Farge at the Organic Valley Headquarters).  So I decided to check up on Organic Valley for what they wanted for produce. I saw they wanted someone to grow cucumbers and squash. So I started growing cucumbers. For awhile, I was their top cucumber grower.” Walter shared that later he also was a parsley producer for OV as well as Watercress before they discontinued that offering.
Eventually the family began raising free range organic laying hens for OV and harvesting their eggs for sale under the Organic Valley label. Walter would go on to participate on the Egg Board for years as well, sharing his input as a farmer with the co-op.
A new spin
Walter started farming outside of Lancaster with OV in 1997, and a year later, married his wife Dorothy, who put another spin on their produce business.
“I saw all of the ones that they (OV) didn’t want for the stores and I decided we could make pickles out of them,” Dorothy recalled. “And they took off like hotcakes!”
Dorothy had a history of her own with farming and farm markets.
Growing up in the Green Bay area, she would work the flea markets and eventually farmers markets with her dad.
“We started doing flea markets but moved to fresh vegetables and my dad would have a stand at the Shell Lake Market,” Dorothy recalled. It was then that Dorothy learned how to can veggies and create sweet treats in the form of jams and jellies.
The Hammerands have a certified commercial kitchen in the basement of their home, an important facet of their business.
“We have the certified kitchen because we want to be within the law,” Dorothy said. “We sent our things to state labs to be tested and we are able to say everything is safe and up to code. We would rather be safe than sorry!”
 The Hammerands use their kitchen to process their canned goods as well as several baked offerings like cowboy cookies and peach crisp- to name a few. Dorothy also completed a safe serving course through Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in 2001.
 Their certifications also allow them to transport and sell their canned goods across state lines, where the popular Wisconsin Pickle Bill is not valid. This is a vital aspect of things for the pair as they travel far and wide, to places like Dubuque and even Tomah to attend farmers markets and sell their goods.
Typically, the Hammerands have about 17 different pickled vegetables and 18 different jams and jellies as part of their line up of offerings.
Although they don’t do all of their own harvesting anymore, they still go to great lengths to ensure they’re offering the highest quality product to their customers.
Walter travels all over the state and beyond to acquire high quality and organic produce. Making stops locally at the Fennimore Produce Auction, but also Gays Mills for organic apples and apple cider vinegar, Hillsboro for various produce, Caledonia, Minnesota, for organic berries, Fountain City for freshly milled flour, and even as far as Missouri for pecans.
Family traditions
Walter noted that their daughter and her family now runs the larger farm outside of Lancaster, operating a large egg operation for Organic Valley.  
Although they’re not on the larger farm every day, Walter still finds himself helping out from time to time. Most recently, helping to unload a large number of fresh laying pullets for the farm.
In fact, upon arrival to the Farm Stand at their home, Dorothy was happily unloading a SUV-full of eggs from the farm. In addition to their licensed kitchen, the Hammerands also hold a license to sell eggs off of the farm. Allowing them to take large quantities of their rich yolked organic eggs to individuals at local farmers markets.
“We carry a folder with us to the markets with pictures of the chickens so people can see they’re happy,” Dorothy shared.
The Hammerands also boast another unique quality about their canned and baked goods, they’re solar powered.
Four large solar panels grace Walter and Dorothy’s land and help to off set their costs when canning season is in full swing.
“I was putting up a lot of jams and jellies last week and using a lot of power, I was thankful for the solar panels then!” Dorothy said with a smile.  
The Hammerands have also constructed a solar oven to take with them to markets, so they are able to offer warm doughnuts to their happy customers.
Always on the hunt to keep things fresh figuratively and literally, the Hammerands are constantly checking into new recipes and techniques to improve their offerings.
“I keep learning different things,” Dorothy shared.
“We are always looking through recipe books. We were at a Seed Savers event and saw a few books and thought, this recipe looks good, and this one looks good, and ended up buying quite a few books! You know how that goes!” Walter said with a grin.
Even a surgery couldn’t keep Dorothy out of her kitchen when it became canning time.
“I had my knee replaced and I wanted to get into my kitchen to get working,” Dorothy said. “I saw my surgeon and I asked if I could go down the stairs to my kitchen. She wasn’t sure, but I showed her I had a walker upstairs and one down stairs and showed her how I made my way and she gave me the okay.”  Dorothy attributes her good health and vitality to the fresh organic produce she is able to consume regularly.
As if prepping veggies, canning, and setting up at markets all across the area wasn’t enough, Dorothy also is a Superintendent at the Grant County Fair as well as a participant.  Dorothy shows a variety of things from acrylic paintings, jewelry and colored pencil drawings to flowers, baked goods and antiques. Walter also participates showing impressive veggies from his personal garden. They’ve enjoyed participating for the last 15 years, and now are able to share the experience with their granddaughter.
Although they’ve been at it for many years, it doesn’t look like the Hammerands will be hanging up their hats anytime soon.

“I can still call myself a farmer after 52 years!” Walter said with a smile.