Making Good Food Available for All: Fondy Farm Tour
For farmer’s market aficionados who live in Southeastern Wisconsin, the Fondy Farmer’s Market is a well known venue. The oldest producer-only market in the area, it recently hit its 97th birthday, marking nearly a century of serving the Milwaukee community. More importantly, it addresses one of today’s real issues–how to make good food available to all.
Many people would prefer to eat fresh, local, sustainably grown food, but what if fast food is more available and affordable? Inner city farmers markets have the potential to change this equation.
The Fondy Market has been around for decades, but a new component was added in 2011– Fondy Farm. While the problem of good food availability, accessibility and affordability is well known, food producers face their own special challenges. Fondy Farm, 40 acres of prime farmland just north of Milwaukee, was designed to address these. Last weekend I had the opportunity to tour the farm in an excursion set up by MKEFoodies.
We began our tour on a tractor, driven by Farm Manager Steve Petro (after some good local beer–this is Wisconin after all).
During the tour, Fondy Food Center Executive Director Young Kim reflected back on his earlier years with the Fondy Market, when he noticed some troubling trends.
The first concern was a significant drop in the number of producers in the years between 2006 and 2009–difficult economic times for the community to lose part of its food supply. When he looked into causes, one thing in particular–land and resource availability–stood out. Many producers farmed leased land which might change annually and be agreed to with a handshake. He cited a case where the landowner decided to do something different, and the farmer found out in the spring that the land was no longer available.
The second issue was the limited variety of produce–specifically an almost complete absence of perennial crops like asparagus or berries. The issues were related. If a farmer was working on leased land with a one year contract or agreement, it wouldn’t make sense to start crops that need over a year to produce.
Fondy Farm was established to help address these issues. With a long term lease on 40 acres of farmland north of Milwaukee, they provide sub-lets to farmers along with irrigation, tractors and consulting. The only the stipulations are that they grow sustainably and sell their wares at the Fondy Market. Currently the farm hosts upwards of a dozen farmers. At about 95% capacity, it is an obvious success.
Every year Fondy Farm adds capabilities–more mechanization options, better irrigation, etc. During the tour, ideas for additional farm upgrades came up. Discussion of possible overnight housing, transportation and refrigeration made it clear that the team will continue to innovate.
Milwaukee will clearly be better for it.
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Here is some more of the farm …
- Homemade Peach Granola
- Guacamole and the Red Hot Blues
Talk about fresh food!
It is a luxury eating a beautiful fresh strawberry right off the plant!
I can’t get over the size of that turnip in the first picture. Now want to go to a Farmer’s Marquette. There’s one 80 miles away in Marquette, but wouldn’t make it before it closed. Maybe next Saturday?
Can you believe how quickly winter is coming Kathy? I still want to make one more farmer’s market run before they shut down. We had both better hurry!
Looks like a fun tour and you took beautiful photos!
Thanks Lisa. It was interesting in the first place, then more so for their mission.
Inger I love this tour!! All look amazing!!!! xo
Thanks Gloria. Everyone had a great time!
Inger, I so enjoyed your trip to the farm. Love all your great photos! I also live in a farming area. Nothing tastes as good as veggies and fruit fresh from the farm! Nice post!
I almost never stop in the produce section of the grocery store now. If bananas grew in Wisconsin, it might be never 😉 (except winter of course).
Wow you got such fantastic photos of this farm tour! Looks like you had such a great time!
It really was a fun event!
Great farm photos! I’ve visited many Wisconsin farms but haven’t checked one out down here yet, which I really need to do!
That would be really interesting–especially to see the differences in crops.
Hi Inger, what an awesome visit to the farm. I enjoy visiting and buy produce straight from the farm but unfortunately, the chances of visiting farms over here is quite limited. It’s usually quite a distance away from my place. So, when I have a chance going to any plantation or farm, I am sure to buy fresh produce from there. Thanks so much for sharing your visit to the farmers market. Cheers and warmest regards 🙂
You’d be in luck with this concept then, since they bring the produce into the city to sell. I think there are a lot of people who can’t get to the farms here too.
Such fresh products, I haven’t visited a farmers market where it was still growing before! Lovely photos 😀
Choc Chip Uru
They actually bring the food into the city to sell (though we got samples!) But it was great to see where it comes from and to hear how they are solving some problems!
Everything looks amazing. I love visiting the farmers market especially in the summer.
I used to just do my CSAs and garden but have been going to the farmers markets more this year to get specific needs for canning. That’s been a lot of fun!