Name: Laura Berlage
Occupation: Renaissance Woman; Co-owner of North Star Homestead Farms and Farmstead Creamery & Café, a diversified, sustainably minded homestead and farm-to-table endeavor; textile artist and owner of Erindale Tapestry Studio; Celtic and folk performing artist.
Place of Residence: Near Hayward, Wisconsin
Background and Personal History: Living and working on a century-old, diversified homestead tucked within the borders of the Chequamegon National Forest with her sister Kara and mother Ann, Laura is part of the new generation of agrarians who are re-inventing the face of contemporary farming. With influential mentors like Joel Salatin, the ladies at North Star Homestead Farms have found ways to creatively integrate multi-species pasture-based livestock, intensive raised bed gardening, year-round aquaponics production, and beekeeping, with running Farmstead Creamery & Café — a community-building space that is part farm store, part dairy plant for making sheep’s milk gelato, part ancient grains bakery, part café for farm fresh meals and pizza farm events, part education space, and part local artist gallery and live music events host. Whew, that’s more than enough right there! Learn more about the farm at North Star Homestead.
Laura received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College in Vermont in 2011. Progressive education has been a pivotal part of Laura’s journey, including Montessori methods which led the family to build its own Erdkinder program on the farm in 2000 for Laura and Kara to use the homestead as a living laboratory for middle and high school unschool/homeschool studies. Education continues to be a large part of the farm’s ethos, with internship programs, educational outreach to student and adult learners, and creative writing.
Current Projects: Sylvopasture development in the woods behind the farm’s historic 1919 barn for summer sheep grazing, pushing against the spread of swine CAFO development into the delicate environments near Lake Superior and the Penokee Mountain Range, restoring a Macomber four-harness floor loom for low-warp tapestry projects, and working on the farm’s website development and weekly “Down on the Farm” podcasts to continue building local, sustainable community.
Other Fun Facts: Laura makes a point to hug her chickens every day as well as carve out time to work in her tapestry studio yurt and play her Celtic harp. One of her funny side stories is that she served as the 2006 Wisconsin Honey Queen, presenting to over 3,000 Wisconsin school children about honeybee biology and the value of pollination.
More Places to Find Laura on the Web: