ASHLAND, Wis. – A lot of folks are interested in excellent-quality food. They want to know who produced the food and how it was produced. Better yet they would like to visit the farm where the food was raised.

Bear Trap Creek Farms Store opened in September; it’s located on Wisconsin Highway 112 about 4 miles south of Ashland. Jenny Lavasseur and her husband, Bill Lavasseur, own and operate Bear Trap Creek Farms with their extended family.

“We have been farming a long time,” Jenny Lavasseur said. “We moved to this farm 11 years ago. It’s next to Bill’s parents’ farm and we farm that too, with much of the beef over there. We all work together. We raise vegetables, free-range eggs, pork and I pick wild berries here. I make jam that I sell at the farmers market in Ashland, and now here – Juneberry Rhubarb jam; I can never make enough of it. We also have honey; I started beekeeping in 2013.”

In addition to fresh-frozen beef and pork, natural smoked-without-nitrate meat including sausage is also available – as are vegetables in season.

“I plant all heirloom non-(genetically modified) seeds,” she said. “We don’t use any pesticides. Our animals get a barley mix, no corn, so I can make sure there are no GMO ingredients in the feed. Everybody gets the barley mix, including those on grass. It works really well.

“We only sell our own meat. I bring in other products from people I know; I get as much local as I can. A lot of it comes from my friends at the farm market. I like doing business locally. The money circulates locally and more money stays with people here. Our selling point is that people can come here and see how our animals live. People can come and ask me questions. The animals here lead a full happy life. I love that families come here to get food for their children. I take great pride in that. We eat it; I don’t sell anything we don’t eat ourselves.”

At traditional feasts in Native American communities in Wisconsin it’s often said when food is prepared with love, one can taste it. But food prepared without love tastes like dust and ashes. Step into the store at Bear Trap Farms to feel the love. Displays of local foods and crafts line side walls of the store. There are freezers bursting with frozen meat and refrigerators full of local fermented products.

At one end there’s a table with free wrapping for gifts. At the other end is a notebook, blank receipts and instructions regarding how to make purchases – on the honor system. A customer picks what she or he wants, notes it in the notebook or completes a receipt, and then puts cash or a check into the cash box. The farmers at Bear Trap Creek Farms trust their customers. After their customers look around a little, Lavasseur said, they will trust the farmers at Bear Trap Creek.

During the coronavirus health crisis, Lavasseur asks that only one person or family comes into the store at a time. She said customers have been very respectful of each other's health by practicing strict social distancing. She goes in between customers to sanitize, several times a day.

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Jason Maloney is an “elderly” farm boy from Marinette County, Wisconsin. He’s a retired educator, a retired soldier and a lifelong Wisconsin resident. He lives on the shore of Lake Superior with his wife, Cindy Dillenschneider, and Red, a sturdy loyal Australian Shepherd.