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Johnson Family Pastures preserves heritage livestock breeds, using perennial and natural feed sources, using regenerative pasture management, and producing food free of antibiotics and added hormones. Tamara grew up in Minneapolis, and studied environmental science at UW-Stevens Point, where she met her husband and farming partner, Chris. After a few years of hobby farming in various WI locations, they began renting land near Oconomowoc to start their livestock business. In 2016, they relocated to land near Centuria, near Tamara’s uncle’s u-pick apple orchard. The couple markets pork, chicken, eggs, vegetables and, most recently, grass-fed beef to customers both locally and in the Twin Cities.
CFPA Mpls: Tell us something about ways you see a creative impulse manifesting in your life. Are there other things you make, besides food?
Tamara Johnson: The idea of myself as a maker or an artist is not something I’ve thought of before being invited to this event. It’s been fun to explore this idea and make parallels. I definitely make things – some out of love and some out of necessity. I’m a mother & I’ve birthed children, I make meals (some of them very good), I try to make space in my life for simple experiences such as a good conversation.
CFPA Mpls: How does your position as a maker-of-things shape your point of view on the world? Did it change after you started farming?
TJ: Farming has been a very humbling experience for me. I think less now of what I’m doing for the world, earth, or community, and more of just being a part of it. It’s been a lesson in letting go of control. I still work hard, try hard to make good, responsible decisions. There are a lot of unknown or unexpected variables in farming – so I adapt.
CFPA Mpls: What is the hardest part of making?
TJ: The unexpected loss – storm damage, losing an animal to predators or illness. Those days truly suck.
CFPA Mpls: What is the most joyful part of making?
TJ: When I can share the food we raise with our loved ones. Like, “I can’t wait to cook up these pork chops for you cause I know it’s going to be the best pork you’ve ever tasted!” I’m really proud of our pork. It also feels really good to clean up at the end of the and know we got a lot of farm work done. The result is really visible and tangible.
Previously, Tamara spoke with Neighborhood Roots about the farm:
“I had been working as an educator in low-income communities through various programs (including Farm to School, Wisconsin Green Schools Network, and Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program.) Our desire to live a self-sufficient, sustainable lifestyle drew us to farming. We decided to make a career out of the hobbies we love. It is incredibly rewarding to be your own boss, work hard, and see the restoration of degraded farmland through the use of grazing animals.”