Recession is for the Worms

With recession and poor economic times facing our nation, one area family has turned to worms to help their finances, and in turn, are helping the environment. Ed and Jessica Rebak of Colfax, WI started raising earthworms on a large scale. Besides the added income, Ed and Jessica are helping bring the cost of fishing bait down, helping to reduce shoreline fertilizer pollution, and helping gardeners increase their harvests.

It started when Ed was sitting in a truck stop overnight wishing he was home with his wife and they’re soon to be born son. Ed works in the trucking industry. This trade demands travel year round. Ed and Jessica decided he needed to find a way to be home to help.

Enter earthworms or night crawlers. These night crawlers are not your ordinary worms. They actually thrive at room temperature so they need no refrigeration. No more mushy worms on a hot day. In fact, their night crawlers can handle temperatures up to 100 degrees or more. Temps can also dip down to the 50s, but they prefer 70 to 80 degrees. That way when you get home, you can just set them on counter instead of the refrigerator. 250 cultured earthworms can eat a half a pound of food a day, making them the best composting worm available.

These super active worms are fed organic peat and a special mix of organic grains every two weeks. Jessica then harvests the castings from the worms. This rich organic fertilizer takes going green to the next level. Earthworm castings are mother nature’s way of giving plants the micronutrients they need for optimum plant growth. Giving your plants a “healthy snack” is just the start of the many benefits to making earthworm castings your fertilizer of choice. Earthworm castings have no odor. They will not burn plants in any concentration. Seeds and seedlings can be started in pure castings, which will give them the best chance for a healthy life. They improve soil structure and aeration. The tiny capsules resist packing and keep soil loose. Castings provide significant microbial and bacterial activity. These free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria promote healthy “living” soil that provides an optimum growth environment. Castings contain Auxins and Cytokinins, which are natural growth hormones for bigger and more fibrous plant roots. The high availability of trace elements combined with its structure and high microbial activity allow earthworm castings to out-perform what is expected of a low (NPK) fertilizer. No phosphorous equals safe shoreline fertilizer. No more worry of polluting and burning with synthetic fertilizers. No weeds or risk of diseases when using larger animal manures.

These worms are a great addition to any soil that needs amending. When you purchase your cocoons, inside each cocoon can be 1-4 worms. A twenty-pound bag of cocoons is recommended for a 20’ x 20’ area.

We have always loved gardening and fishing. What a great way to incorporate our hobbies into a business.” Whitail Organics supplies less expensive worms to the fishermen, farmers, gardeners, and pet owners all over the United States. “We give gardeners an advantage to growing their plants in castings. We give property owners a safe alternative to fertilizing their beautiful landscapes. We can also help with composting by adding our inexpensive worm cocoons to composts and gardens. Finally, we give ourselves, a piece of mind that we are doing what we can to help our environment through proper fertilizing.”

Whitetail Organics has taken their Organics an extra step: In addition to the earthworms, they also have a cow/calf operation and raise beef to sell by the ¼, ½, and whole; chicks and other fowl for your farm; “free-range” chickens and eggs; they make cold process soap; and they offer composted manure.

If you have an interest or questions look us up at and facebook or contact Ed at or Jessica and Or by phone 715-962-3202.

Green Pages | November/December '10

Montessori School to Host Holiday Mall-ternative

Dec. 11, noon-8pm , 400 Cameron St, Eau Claire, WI | Known for their innovative fundraisers, the Chippewa Valley Montessori School does not disappoint this holiday season. December 11 from noon to 8pm they will host a holiday shopping event that gives you good reason to avoid the crowds, mass marketing and hyper-consumerism booming at the malls and shopping centers. The mall-ternative will feature great products and services from local artisans, farmers, and more. Goodie bags filled with coupons and cool free stuff will be given to the first 100 attendees. Entrance fee is $3, children under 12 are free.

Proceeds from the event go to the Montessori school ( and Heifer International (, a project aimed at ending world hunger. Live music from some great local musicians, yummy food and samples from vendors, and amazing gifts from local producers and artists make a mall experience fade in comparison. Come enjoy a fun, worthwhile holiday shopping experience. For more information, contact Kristin Walukas, Montessori Parent Steering Committee Chairwoman:

Family Health Fair

Getting ready to make your New Year’s resolutions? Let the Eau Clare Indoor Sports Center help you! On January 15, 2011 the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center presents the Family Health Fair at their facility, 3456 Craig Rd., Eau Claire, WI.  The event goes from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is only $5 per person, children 12 and under are FREE!

Collect valuable health information from our large indoor business marketplace with vendors representing many areas of health related categories. The event will also feature large inflatables, games, prizes, DJ entertainment, food, sports, demonstrations, guest speakers, and more! This is an event the whole family can enjoy!

This event is a great way to find out valuable health related information. Areas of business being represented include: hospitals, chiropractors, dentists, health clubs, nutritional food, specialty clinics, and basic health information. This event is a great way to get your questions answered. It is also a great way to find out how to get healthy during the New Year.

Kids are encouraged to come as well. Health relates to everyone; not just adults. Advanced tickets are available at the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center.  Find out more information online at

Serenity Dawns Healing & Wellness Services

We all make the best choices for ourselves with the resources we currently have available at any point in time. As a Therapeutic Coach®, I assist clients in realizing all the resources they have, which they have not tapped into. Working with the Conscious, Unconscious, and Higher Conscious minds, along with modalities such as Hypnosis, NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), and a newly developed sports hypnosis program, I assist clients in changing behaviors, releasing fears, phobias, limiting beliefs, and overcoming challenges that currently stand between them and their greatest successes.

I work with clients on all levels, though the changes in behavior come from the unconscious level; by changing the filters (our perception of our realities) at this level, the client changes their perception of the issue and is able to see it in a different light. The client has all the resources within themselves to change any issue, pattern, belief, limiting belief, or value they so choose; it is my privilege to assist them in this realization.

I also do Hydrotherapy (Ionic Foot Detox), which is the removal of toxins from the body through the pores in the feet with the aid of warm water, sea salts, and a very low current moving through the body to assist in the removal of the impurities. Lastly, I am also a Certified Reiki Therapist. Reiki is a process of energy movement in the body to realign and balance the Chakras. I also do Distance Reiki sessions.

Dawn M. Luebstorf is the owner of Serenity Dawns Healing & Wellness Services and looks forward to meeting and serving the wonderful people in the Chippewa Valley and beyond. She can be reached through her website at

“Together we can awaken the limitless possibilities and create the change you  wish to see in your life.”

Financial Wellness with Kevin McKinley

Sacred Heart Hospital’s Center for Healthy Living and Friends of Sacred Heart Hospital are co-hosting a special financial wellness seminar for Chippewa Valley residents this fall. The session, led by Kevin McKinley, host of Wisconsin Public Radio’s “On Your Money” and Certified Financial Planner and Managing Member of McKinley Money, LLC, will provide a general overview of financial wellness strategies with a special focus on the top “10 ways to increase your retirement income.” Attendees will have a chance to receive practical financial advice. The seminar will include a question and answer session with Kevin.

The event will take place November 11 at 5:30 pm at Sacred Heart Hospital’s Community Auditorium (900 West Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire). A light dinner will be served. The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required by November 4, by calling the hospital’s Center for Healthy Living at (715) 717-1600.

Anyone Can Invest in Local Food, Farmers, & Jobs

By David Mortimer, Co-op Marketing Committee Chair (Sacred Heart Hospital, Com. Department)

Two years ago, the Producers & Buyers Co-op was launched to remove sourcing barriers and to link local farms and institutions. Today, the Co-op facilitates local food sourcing for three Chippewa Valley hospitals and schools, universities, and other institutions in western Wisconsin have expressed interest in Co-op membership. Just last June, the Co-op was cited in a speech by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack as a best practice example of a cooperative expanding local food capacity and developing markets.

In only its second year of operation, the Co-op could sell half of a million dollars in local food—an entirely new market in western Wisconsin, thanks to founding partner Sacred Heart Hospital (Eau Claire) and new partners, St. Joseph’s Hospital (Chippewa Falls) and Luther Midelfort Hospital (Eau Claire).

It is a sad irony that across the nation, local family farms have been largely shut out of institutional markets, even though institutional buyers may be located just a few miles away. For large institutions, like universities, school systems, and hospitals, established supply chains work hard to ensure the safety, availability, variety, and quantity of food products. By creating an infrastructure to source local food in western Wisconsin, the Co-op creates new markets in our community—markets that help family farms, create jobs, and support the local economy. This new production also enhances a self-sustaining food economy and provides a far superior product.

Long distance food sometimes has more frequent flier miles than the people that eat it. During winter months, seasonal fruits and vegetables may even travel through international borders and even across the hemisphere before they reach their destination. Not only does globetrotting food consume a lot of jet and diesel fuel, its quality and nutritional content suffers. Even worse, it may have been picked before it naturally ripens or have been treated with preservatives to lengthen its shelf life.

Building capacity to produce, process, and transport local food is the mission of the Co-op, and today anyone can support this worthy cause by purchasing stock in the organization. Financial investments from members of the community will help build a safe and secure link between sustainable farmers and our schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and universities.

The Co-op board and members are pleased to announce preferred shares of capital stock as an investment opportunity. Funds will be used to reach out to local schools, hospitals and universities as well as to expand the list of producer members and provide new business opportunities.

Each share of Preferred Stock has a par value of $500. The Co-op will divert all profits to the reserve and re-investment fund until 2015. At that time, the Board will review the profitability of the Co-op on a yearly basis and, when appropriate, will pay dividends to stock holders at a rate to be determined by the board (not to exceed 8% as per WI Statute 185). There are 500 shares available.

The Co-op’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws mandate that all those interested in purchasing preferred stock in the Co-op become non-voting members (requiring a membership application and one-time fee of $50.00). To request a brochure, prospectus information packet with Frequently Asked Questions, and a request form, call 715-579-5013 or write: Producers & Buyers Co-op, PO Box 295, Elk Mound, WI  54739.

Local Women Open New Dance Studio

Joan Schaefer and Rita Simon of Chippewa Falls have partnered to open a new dance studio in Eau Claire. “Sofia Spirit Studio,” located at 2131 Fenwick Avenue, is dedicated to offering a variety of programs that serve women in the Chippewa Valley.

Sofia Spirit Studio offers certified instruction in American Tribal Style (ATS) Belly Dance, a beautiful stylized improvisational form of belly dance. This dance is excellent physical exercise, especially for the core muscles and the cardiovascular system. It also fosters the development of inner awareness and self-esteem and all while having a great time!

Ongoing 6 week Level 1 ATS dance classes are offered, with the next series scheduled to begin on September 14. Classes are provided 3 times a week, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings, which allows for participant flexibility. Level 2 and 3 classes will be added as students progress in their mastery of the dance skills.

The studio is also home to “Sofia Tribal,” a performance ATS belly dance troupe comprised of Joan, Rita and three other local professional women. Sofia Tribal is available to provide classy entertainment at private events, such as weddings or women’s gatherings, or at fundraisers and other community events.

A variety of workshops exploring a broad range of women’s interests will be offered at Sofia Studio. Many of these workshops are designed to be beneficial for any woman, wherever she is in her life journey. Look for the first of these workshops in October.

The studio also incorporates a boutique, “Sofia’s Souk.” The souk features beautiful creations by local artisans, worldly treasures and jewelry. Many of these items look great for every day wear and would also beautifully enhance the tribal or fusion belly dancer’s costuming.

The studio is available for rent and is suitable for yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, zumba, martial arts, etc. Classes in ballroom and hoop dancing are currently being scheduled there.

For more information visit or contact Joan Schaefer at 715-379-6304 or

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) Program

If you haven’t checked out Sacred Heart’s Center for Healthy Living’s newest course, you’re missing out. In the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) program, you learn to reduce and/or manage stress, enjoy greater energy, decrease pain or manage it more effectively, and increase your ability to relax and put life in healthier perspective. The program is facilitated by Karen Alseth, BSN, MEd, and is the only course of its kind in the area.

Though it may sound pretty cutting-edge, MSBR has been around since the ‘70s.The program originated in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worchester, MA. Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, developed the program in response to the the needs of patients to manage stress, especially stress associated with chronic illness. A doctor of molecular biology, Kabat-Zinn worked with traditional physicians in the Medical Center and found they were often frustrated with their limited ability to help chronic illness patients manage their stress, recognizing that stress played a huge role in their patients’ lives and often complicated their conditions.

Kabat-Zinn, a long-time meditator and serious student of Zen meditation, felt led to try a meditation-based approach to treat stress. He developed a program that has since gained international acclaim and is now offered in medical centers around the US and in several other countries. Kabat-Zinn is known for bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of America through the MBSR course, related research, and several best-selling books.

The MSBR program was originally set up as an 8-week course with a weekly 2 ½ hour class plus a full day retreat, and that structure continues to this day. The classes involve learning about mindfulness and how it affects stress and daily living, breathing, homework, study, and self-awareness.

“Life is the curriculum for the class, and meditation is the teacher.” Karen Alseth tells participants. Daily meditation is highly encouraged – attendees of the class are in fact asked to commit to daily meditation. Facilitator Karen Alseth says positive results in the program are directly related to the consistency of meditation. For most people, meditation is the practice that best supports the development of greater mindfulness. Alseth explains, “While we meditate, we become still and we become aware of what our thoughts and feelings are. Realizing what you’ve been doing, allowing, or reacting to opens the mind to clarity and gives you a choice of what to do now.” Alseth says students discover to what extent these feelings and actions have actually been increasing negativity, stress, and pain in their lives. By slowing down and meditating every day, becoming more aware of how they react to the events in their lives, they are enabled to start managing life in a wiser/healthier way.

Breathing and sending enough oxygen to the part of the brain that calms us down is also key in the program. There is a two-part system in the brain; one that generates the stress response, and one that calms us and brings the body back into balance (immune system, nervous system, everything). Because the brain does not discern between life-threatening stress (e.g., that truck is about to hit me) and non-threatening stress (e.g., my teenage child won’t listen to me), many people are operating their lives in a chronic stress reaction mode, which, over time, can have serious negative effects on physical and emotional health.

Students spend time talking in small and large groups (voluntary discussions) about what they are experiencing as they meditate, what the meditation is teaching them, what comes up in their thoughts, feelings, and body sensations (the three main areas of awareness), and how mindfulness is spilling over into their daily life. Everyone receives a notebook as well as CDs with guided meditations to help them through their daily practice.

Students learn about the physiology of stress, the role of the brain and nervous system in stress, the role of breathing, mindful communication, mindful consumption, kindness to self, and nonjudgmental acceptance of reality and related topics.

There are also homework assignments about awareness (pleasant and stressful experiences) that help students become more aware.

A great deal of research-based findings revealing the effectiveness of mindfulness, breathing, and meditation’s effect on the brain are available today. Traditional medical research is continually being done to determine the results of MBSR as well as the actual physiological process of meditation in the brain. New, exciting research surrounding the plasticity of the brain, which means the mold-ability of the brain,  is overturning the paradigm which held that everything in the brain is “set in concrete” at an early age. Alseth explains, “We now know that the brain continues to “learn” and develop new pathways, even into old age and that meditation is being seen in MRIs to have a positive affect on the brain. We can all develop different, healthier pathways.”

MBSR classes are ongoing, with the next session beginning Sept. 9, held at St. Bede’s Conference Center. To register or learn more about the courses, please contact the Center for Healthy Living at Sacred Heart Hospital at (715) 717-1600.