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Veteran-owned farm to debut at Milwaukee VA 2023 farmers market

Farmer Veteran sitting with seedling plants
U.S. Marine Veteran Tsiltiya Fogel, co-owner of Ephrata Farm shows off vegetable seedlings ready to be planted.

U.S Marine Veteran Tsiltiyah Fogle’s childhood dream was to operate a farm, and her husband, U.S. Navy Veteran Charles Fogel, is supportive of that dream coming true. Together they own and operate Ephrata Farm in Union Grove, Wis.

Ephrata, meaning fruitful, is a fitting name for this up-and-coming agriculture venture.  The Fogles have big plans for their farm, and their Veteran skills and connections are helping to make those plans come to fruition. 

“I’ve always wanted to grow my own vegetables, since I was a kid,” said Tsiltiyah. “Before it was more like a family-style thing, but now … we have the ability to do it on a larger scale where we can provide food to others.”

“Deliver Season’s Best” is the motto promoted on the Ephrata Farm website, and that is what the Fogles hope to do at the 2023 Milwaukee VA farmers market.

“We will have 12 different crops,” said Tsiltiyah. “The Milwaukee VA farmers market is just one of several outlets we plan to supply.

“We’re going to have organic vegetables and potatoes,” she said. “We’re going to be growing our vegetables spaced so we will harvest most of them all at once.”

The Fogels lauds military organizational skills and agriculture programs available to support Veteran farmers for helping to get their business plan rooted.

One such program is from AgVets of southeastern Wisconsin. Through AgVets, Veterans are eligible for a hands-on immersive training experience identified as a critical strategy for helping  begin and sustain successful careers in farming, ranching and agribusiness.

“In the military we both learned dedicated work ethics,” she said. “A lot of people say they don’t know how we accomplish everything we accomplish, but it’s because we’re very organized, like in the military.

“Main things are being really dedicated to what we’re doing and being really organized.

 “We’re not just doing this for ourselves; we have the purpose of being able to help others.”

The couple also has long-range goals to use the farm to fund a nonprofit, Chesed Life Builders, set to open in the next 3-5 years.

“The purpose of the farm is basically to fund the nonprofit that we’re trying to start, and that we’re very passionate about,” said Tsiltiyah.

Chesed Life Builders will provide free housing, employment on the farm and a community where people experiencing homelessness or in recovery from a substance use disorder could access mind, body, spirit and financial health programs.

“We’re going to be investing all of the proceeds (from the farm) to our nonprofit,” she said.

Not wanting to jump into everything all at once, Tsiltiyah explained their staggered approach to funding and fully launching Chesed Life Builders five years down the line.

For now, the Fogels are busy on the farm managing their crops, and in the short term, they plan to bring their fresh produce to the Milwaukee VA farmers market in August.

Tsitiyah is finishing her senior year in a student social work program, and her husband is working on a master’s degree in nonprofit management and leadership.

The Milwaukee VA farmers market takes place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every other Friday, from June until the end of September (except Sept. 1) at the south side of the main hospital, 5000 W. National Ave. The next market is July 21.

“Our farmers market is an excellent way to connect Milwaukee VA Veterans and staff to our local community,” said Kayleen Weister, associate chief of food service operations. “The market is such a positive addition to our campus events.”

Weister coordinates with potential vendors interested in participating in the farmers market and ensures the diversity of products offered.

“We are always looking to expand our vendor options,” said Weister. “We require that products are locally grown or handmade, and vendors must have liability insurance to participate.”

Interested vendors can request an application by emailing