9 Area Farms Selling Weekly Produce
A photo story of the men and women growing food for Milwaukee
Milwaukee’s movement to buy local, sustainable food has been growing for years. And that’s become all the more important during the ongoing pandemic, as many people now have the time to develop a new appreciation for cooking, especially with fresh ingredients. Led by organizations like the Urban Ecology Center and Slow Food, the sustainable food movement is all about buying direct from our farmers and appreciating the food that goes into our bodies. The flavors of fresh carrots and onions recently pulled out of the earth by a hard-working farmer’s hands are simply not comparable to the taste of week-old, freeze-dried food shipped across borders to the grocery store.
The value in buying local goes far beyond the rich flavors – we are making a connection with the men and women that grow our food. Having a direct relationship with our farmer allows us to know exactly how our food is grown and the values of the people growing it. When the farmers drop off fresh produce on our doorstep and invite us to their farm, we build trust with one another. And get a much better dinner. Here are nine local farmers who grow fresh produce for us, including some who provide Community Supported Agriculture or CSA baskets of produce, followed by photos of their farm.
Michelle Cannon is the sole owner of LarryVille Gardens, living on her gorgeous 11.5-acre farm in Burlington, Wisconsin. On any given day at the farm, you will see her two dogs running around the fields and kicking up dirt. Throughout the year, she relies heavily on summer and winter farmers markets which are now closed due to the pandemic. But she has adjusted her delivery methods and is currently delivering to the Fondy Food Center in Milwaukee and offering pick-up orders at the farm. The hardest part of all this, she says, is the community that she is unable to interact with. For her, the people she gets to meet and talk to are one of the most important parts of farming.
You can contact Michelle to order produce at www.larryvillegardens.com.
LotFotl Community Farm
Run by Tim Huth and April Yuds, LotFotl Community Farm has been delivering boxes of produce to their membership base since 2008. They are well known in the food community around Milwaukee and can often be found at farmers markets around town. Their CSA farm boxes are filled with fresh produce, honey and eggs. They also offer a share of meat from the pigs they raise. With the rise in demand for locally grown food due to COVID, they have expanded their CSA membership, but just closed registration last week due to the number of inquiries.
They can be found at www.lotfotl.com.
Charlie Tennessen is unique in his farming methods. A wheat farmer in Mount Pleasant, in Racine County, Tennessen chooses to plow his fields with his donkeys. He believes wholeheartedly in producing organic crops. To him, that means not using unnecessary fuel. He plants his wheat in the spring and the fall, using the manure from his donkeys for fertilizer.
Most of Tennessen’s revenue comes from local consumers and wholesale at Outpost Natural Foods. Normally in the spring, he delivers in the span of a few months, but because of the increased desire for flour, this year he sold out in a matter of weeks. For more information on his products and farm, visit www.anarchyacres.com.
A longstanding farm in the CSA community is Pinehold Gardens, owned by Sandy Raduenz and David Kozlowski. In 1994, the couple quit their full-time jobs to start a farm with a CSA program because they were passionate about the ways food can better people’s lives. Now 26 years later, they have a loyal membership who regularly visit their farm in Oak Creek. The couple is currently growing spinach, beets, kale and other greens in their hoop house and are plowing the fields now that it’s getting warmer. They will begin delivering their CSA boxes in May. More info can be found at www.pineholdgardens.com.
Mike Jozwik, better known as Mushroom Mike, does things a little differently from the standard farmer. An expert in foraging wild edibles like mushrooms, berries and ramps, he built his business selling to local restaurants. Foraging is his passion because he believes in the value of sustainable food. The demand for his specialty products grew over his 10-plus years of foraging and in 2015, he opened a warehouse in downtown Milwaukee where he now grows a variety of mushrooms. He sells his products at farmers markets, but the majority of his sales are to restaurants, which are currently struggling. Jozwik is trying to adapt to the shelter-in-place order by offering his products as an add-on to CSA subscriptions from other farms and doing home deliveries. To get a taste of his unique, mouth-watering products, visit his website. www.mushroommikellc.com.
Hidden away on a small piece of land in Wales, Wisconsin, Brian and Denise Whitmore live peacefully on their farm growing microgreens year-round. In addition to the microgreens grown in their basement, they farm a variety of produce and Denise makes soups, salads, and gluten-free food. Denise’s tomato soup is her specialty, cooked with tomatoes that come straight from their fields. Over the years, the farmer-chef duo has built a loyal customer base in East Troy and Waukesha. They mostly sell their products at farmers markets and through home deliveries, but are now looking for new home delivery customers because of the pandemic. They can be reached at Denise.Whitmore@Whitmoreproduce.com.
An environmental and conservation nonprofit in Milwaukee, led by executive director Deneine Christa Powell, Groundwork MKE has its own way of growing and delivering food. The Milwaukee chapter (part of the larger Groundwork network) is best known for its community gardens around the city. The organization runs a series of youth programs that teach young people about growing sustainable food and how to be prepared to enter the workforce. For one programs, Groundwork MKE partnered with the Riverwest Food Pantry to build and maintain 11 hoop houses on Maglio Companies’ campus, located on Port Washington Road. Last year, the two organizations cultivated and gave away 12,000 pounds of food. The crops in the 100-foot greenhouses are already blooming and will be ready for harvest in May. Find ways to donate and get involved at www.groundworkmke.org.
Three Sisters Community Farm
Kelly Kiefer and Jeff Schreiber started their farm in 2011, dedicated to the Community Supported Agriculture model. The couple shared a love for sustainable organic farming methods and set out to grow foods in a way that followed those values. Now in their ninth year, they have a sold-out CSA subscription. Carrots, beets, kohlrabi and other greens are starting to blossom in their hoop houses as they begin to plant potatoes, onions and leeks outside. The two of them are hard at work on their land, getting ready for the busy growing season. Learn more about their farm at www.threesisterscommunityfarm.com.
Long time farmers and early pioneers of the CSA model in Wisconsin, Jenny and Peter Seely have owned their plot of land in Plymouth for over 30 years. They have grown their membership base from just 45 people to about 1,000 subscribers today. Passionate about renewable energy and sustainable farming, the couple uses solar-powered tractors and natural farming methods that continue to improve the fertility of their soil. Jenny and Peter always welcome their members to visit the farm and have a close relationship with many in the Milwaukee food community. Read more about their story at www.springdalefarm.com.
Erin Bloodgood is a Milwaukee photographer and storyteller. Click the link to see her ongoing photography project featuring farmers in Southeast Wisconsin.