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Soil Sisters: Enjoy Local Food In The Winter & Stay Alpaca Warm
Danielle Zimmerman

My interest in alpacas started when I attended the Wisconsin Alpaca Fest in Madison in 2012. After researching alpacas, I found out that alpacas make a great small-scale ownership for smaller farmsteads. Alpacas are a herd animal and need to be kept with 2-3 other alpacas. Alpacas require quality pasture ground to graze, hay, minerals, and medical care to ensure a healthy long life. Alpaca fiber produces amazingly soft, warmer than wool, hypoallergic, moisture wicking fiber that needs to be shorn in the spring yearly.  Generally, fiber collections off an alpaca can average 5-8 lbs. of raw fiber. Then in June 2013 I purchased a herd of 5 alpacas. 

Taking my sales passion to help others fill a need, I started sending the raw alpaca fiber to a fiber coop mill in Fall River, MA. In return I receive finished alpaca socks, hats, gloves, mittens, scarfs, and yarn, of products for my customers enjoy, the rich quality that alpaca fiber has to offer.   I’ve learned the fiber processing skills of cleaning, combing/carding the fiber, and make the most popular product dryer balls. Also, I love to color dye the fiber for felting soaps and needle felting projects. I discovered a passion for educating people about alpacas, and the amazing fiber quality benefits the product provides. This is a personal highlight when I’m selling at a local farmers market or craft shows.  Currently, I have a herd of 10 male alpacas and enjoy the cuteness and mellow personalities most of them have. 

When I started selling my alpaca products at local farmers markets, I developed a network for helping local growers and entrepreneurs sell their products at weekly farmers markets. Farmer markets keep your money in circulation in the community thereby helping to keep small businesses sustainable. In 2018 I volunteered to help restart and manage the New Glarus Farmers Market. It has grown to 12-18 vendors and 100+ customers on an average Friday afternoon during our May-October season. We are holding winter markets at the New Glarus Village Hall Community Room January 29th, and February 26th from 10am-1 pm.  Providing access of local food products in winter has become a norm in recent years. Winter farmers markets are available with vendors providing local meats, eggs, honey, fresh bakery item, jams, salsas, made from peak-season ingredients, cold storage root vegetables such as potatoes and onions.  Please look outside the box of your traditional food if you’re wanting to find local food in your community year-round. 

One new option to local food is the Community Kitchen Co-op in Monticello, providing healthy, affordable pre-made, ready meal shares and groceries. They  source 90% of their ingredients within a 150-mile radius of Green County The “ready to heat and eat” meals support healthy food access, small scale farmer profitability, the overall mental and physical wellness of our community, and the stability and equity of our local economy. 

The Soil Sisters provide networking with a diverse group of women when it comes to learning, understanding, and educating ourselves and our community about the benefits of nontraditional livestock and methods of production. The cooperative model expands our ability to think outside the box for new streams of revenue for our farms. 

In you’re interested in learning more about meals shares please inquire at

Local Farmers Markets

NGFM Winter Market January February at the New Glarus Village Hall Community room January 29th, February 26th 10am-1 pm.  

Monroe Indoor Farmers Markets- Masonic Temple, Monroe Square January 15th February 18th 9 am – 12 pm.   

— Danielle Zimmerman has a background in marketing and sales. She has been an independent entrepreneur for over a decade and is the owner of Meadow Ridge Alpacas. Danielle has been committed to connecting local growers and sellers with consumers through farmers markets. Danielle lives in New Glarus with her two boys ages 6 and 7.  Soil Sisters, a program of Renewing the Countryside, connects and champions women in the Green County area committed to sustainable and organic agriculture, land stewardship, local food, family farms and healthy and economically vibrant rural communities.