Harvesting Heroes: Garden Valley Farmstead – a loving pasture-based farm

Harvesting Heroes

HIXTON, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – First News at Nine is proud to bring to you our newest franchise, Harvesting Heroes. During the harvest season, we will be airing a series of features on local farmers throughout our viewing area, all building towards a half-hour harvest special on FOX25/48 called Hometown Harvest.

We will air that special in November. Harvesting heroes will give you an in-depth look at the places and faces behind the produce in your home. A fixture of the Wisconsin economy, farming faces new challenges and enjoys new innovations every year. Tonight, our Phoebe Murray introduces us to dairy farmers, Justin and Darci Daniels from Hixton.

Mornings at Garden Valley Farmstead start at 5 A.M. Daily chores on the farm don’t get done without a little help from their little ones.

Darci Daniels, owner of Garden Valley Farmstead, said, “We love raising the kids on the farm and we love that they get to experience real-life every day.”

The baby calf, Nicu, as Darci calls it, where calves get individual attention.

Daniels said, “We put them in their individual pens when they’re little because dairy calves are born with basically like no immune system.”

Two years they’ll join the milking herd after they have their first baby.

Darci and Justin Daniels run a pasture-based farm, specializing in dairy and beef cows, broiler and egg-laying chickens. The two grew up on dairy farms and planted roots here in west-central Wisconsin.

Justin Daniels of Garden Valley Farmstead said, “We met in 2010, we bought the farm in 2011, we got married in 2012 and we started milking here on this farm in 2013.”

After getting the cows milked, Justin doubles as a Ferrier.

Dacri said, “Justin works off the farm during the day so he gets his little break from it all.”

Then at 4 o’clock, the process repeats.

“We bring cows in off the pasture again, milk them again, feed them again, feed the calves again,” said Daniels.

When the pandemic hit in March, agriculture consolidated, shifting consumer shopping habits. Darci says they saw their milk prices cut in half, virtually overnight. 

“People were seeing empty shelves at the grocery store and I think a lot of people really appreciated having a farmer that they knew and especially our loyal customers to come in, know that they could get their meat and cheese and eggs and chicken and all that, right from us,” said Daniels.

Twenty percent of the U.S. economy comes from food and agriculture, rain or shine, pandemic or no pandemic, these local harvesting heroes are on the clock 365.

Daniels said, “Day to day, you know, we just kept plugging along kept doing our chores and taking care of our animals and doing what we do best. We really were grateful that we were able to provide for our customers during that time.”

On Saturday’s they offer hands-on farm tours but have had to cancel all other events this year due to the pandemic.

“That’s had a huge effect on us, we love opening up our farm and having people here and experience the farm,” said Daniels.

“The best way to figure out if you’re buying local is to go straight to the farm.”

What started as a pop-up tent in the yard selling cheese curds, became the Garden Valley Farmstead Store, shipping meats born and raised on the farm- across the country.

“We have everything from ground beef, ground beef patties, steaks, roasts, summer sausage, beef sticks, dried beef, pretty much anything you can think of. “It’s never a dull moment around here,” said Daniels.

“To be recognized as a farmer is a huge honor for us.”

Passing on their dreams, to a new generation all in a day’s work.

In Hixton, Phoebe Murray, First News at Nine.

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