All-new ‘Around the Farm Table’ Airs Oct. 7 – Read a Q&A With Host Inga Witscher!
September 28, 2021 Leave a Comment
With the influx of cooler weather signaling the definitive end of summer, farmers around Wisconsin are bringing in their harvest and preparing for colder months ahead. Around the Farm Table host and fourth generation dairy farmer Inga Witscher is getting her farm ready for a snowy winter, too, after a long season of running a creamery while filming new episodes.
PBS Wisconsin caught up with Inga as she prepared to do some of her favorite fall activities – processing tomatoes, planting cover crops and putting pastures to bed before heading out to enjoy a slice of pie (with caramel on top!) at her local apple orchard – to discuss life on the farm and the all-new Around the Farm Table, premiering 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7 on PBS Wisconsin.
PBS Wisconsin: What can viewers expect when they tune in for the latest episode on Oct. 7?
Inga Witscher: This upcoming episode is a little bit different than a lot of our other episodes. We filmed over the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we chose to only film at our farm so that we could keep our family and our crew as safe as possible. This episode really highlights what we’re doing at St. Isidore’s Dairy with pasturing cows, milking the cows a specific way and also our new endeavor of making cheese right there on the farm.
PBS Wisconsin: What’s it like making a TV show in your house?
Witscher: It’s great because it reminds me that I have to get the garden weeded and everything looking nice because there’s a camera coming! I never really think of myself as a TV host, I just like to invite people to see what we’re doing. It’s nice to be at the house, and I’m excited for folks to get a glimpse of what it’s like living on the farm with us and our daily schedule of milking cows and making cheese.
I love living this life out here on the farm. We love our cows so much, and we put a lot of care into the land surrounding our farm. I’m very proud of what we do on the show as well; it’s a great experience because our whole crew is just so fun to work with, and I feel like we’re all so excited to make really good TV.
PBS Wisconsin: How does it feel when you put a wheel of cheese away for a year without knowing how it’s going to turn out?
Witscher: There’s an emotion to putting the cheese into the cave. The hardest part is just waiting for that aging process because it’s not one of those products that can be sold right away. Every other day we go back to that wheel of cheese and massage the molds into the cheese by hand and flip them to distribute moisture evenly. It’s like they’re a part of who we are.
The best part is following the process from the beginning – from the cows in the pasture, to being in the cheese making room and turning that milk from the morning into this beautiful wheel of cheese and finally being able to see how the color of the cheese has changed with the seasons. It’s always really exciting when we open up a wheel, take a step back and say, “Oh my gosh, it worked!”
PBS Wisconsin: You grew up milking cows with your father, Rick, and you two created Around the Farm Table together, and now you’re making cheese together. What does it mean to you to be able to work with your dad on these projects?
Witscher: It’s just the most wonderful thing. We really share the same goals, we share the same ideas on things. It’s that farm way of working with your family, so it’s so normal to me to be able to work with my dad or my mom or my husband every day and have that connectedness. It’s a family business, whether it’s the show or on the farm. We all work together as a team to make it happen, and it’s amazing because we get to bond and have these wonderful experiences of traveling around Wisconsin and meeting these incredible people and then discussing it over a batch of cheese.
PBS Wisconsin: How is this upcoming Around the Farm Table different from past seasons?
Witscher: Well, with concerns about COVID-19 and a full schedule on the farm, we were only able to film four episodes this year. It’s a little bit different this season because new episodes will air as specials that premiere every three to four months.
PBS Wisconsin: What are you looking forward to folks learning about in the upcoming specials?
Witscher: I’m so excited for viewers to learn about what farmstead cheese actually is – where the cows are there on the farm and the cheese is made right there onsite, so it is coming from a single source – and for everybody, have a more in-depth look at what we do on our farm.
I’m also excited for people to learn about Kernza, which is a relatively new perennial grain that can be planted in the ground and harvested for up to four or five years. It could be a really great bright spot in agriculture. I’m looking forward to sharing stories from our friends in Prairie Farm; we had a meal at Hay River Farm – I have adored them for years and years – and they produce this delicious pumpkin seed oil that is one of the most delicious oils I’ve ever had. And I’m so excited for people to get inspired by these women in southern Wisconsin who have created a group called Soil Sisters, it’s a huge network of amazing women who are working in agriculture. I hope that the viewers find it as exciting as we do.