We met all sorts of interesting folks on a visit to the Wausau Farmers Market. Each and every one impressed us with their dedication to their businesses and to the land.

Farmers market folks | Wausau, WI

Stacy’s farm is called Red Door Family Farm. When we met Stacy, she was seven months pregnant, had black earth under her fingernails, and a smile on her face. She and her partner Tenzin are first-generation farmers, learning what they can about running a local, organic farm from the community (and the internet). 

They decided to get into this hard-work profession because they “noticed that the happiest people lived close to the land and were engaged with their communities. They worked hard, took pride in what they did, and prioritized their families. We decided to be farmers because we want to be connected to our community, be proud of the work that we do, and create a healthy, happy place for our family and friends.

“We wanted to do something valuable for our community, and to be of service, and to live a healthy lifestyle, so farming kind of fit the bill. We’re first-generation farmers and we’re just trying to learn everything we can. About 90 percent of our farming advice comes from YouTube.”

“We used to live in Oregon, and everyone thought farming was like, the new, hip thing to do. But here in Wisconsin, people instead say, 'Oh! You’re going BACK to the land.' And that’s been hugely encouraging to me.”

-Stacy | Athens, WI

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Joel was at the market with meat and eggs from his farm, Lonely Oak. Joel’s not only a farmer with a great sense of humor, but he’s also an agriculture teacher at the local high school, spreading love and know-how collected from generations of farmers.

“Farming becomes a part of you. In fact, I heard a term yesterday: blood farmer. Not as in like being a vampire, but when you farm it’s more than just a job, it’s a way of life that gets inside you. You can’t give it up. It’s emotional. It’s my family heritage. So yeah, I’m a blood farmer.

I ended up buying my grandparents' best friends' farm. It’s unique because my great grandma was a midwife, and she delivered the guy that I bought the farm from in my living room!

I’m from Milladore. Thrill-adore is what I like to call it because it’s so terribly exciting. In fact, there even used to be a bar that advertised free toilet paper.

We’re seeing a rebirth of farming right now, with all the farmer’s markets, local food initiatives, and farm-to-school programs. People want to get back to it because they’re missing it. And Wisconsin definitely plays a role in that rebirth. We are second in the nation in terms of the number of organic farms, but I feel like we are a leader in the local food movement. We didn’t lose that way of life as much as other areas of the country did.”

-Joel | Milladore, WI

We met Debbie selling herbs and vegetables from her farm, Ethereal Gardens. She let us huddle under her tent during a quick summer rain, and charmed us with talk about Northern Lights and growing herbs.  

“There’s a pond that I used to go to as a kid. First you had to go into the woods, and you walk and you walk and you walk, and suddenly it opens up into a meadow and pond. I swear it was like a gateway to another world. The sun shone just a little bit different. You hear legends of the fairy….it was almost like it was a gateway to that. There are these places in Wisconsin...if you go walking far enough off the beaten path, you can still find them.

The Northern Lights…now that’s something else. You can actually see them from Wisconsin. Last time I saw them was some years ago, but I had just gotten home, pulled up in my car and there they were. The light green. It was really astounding.”

-Debbie | Harrison, WI

Paul was selling beef from his farm, NewGrass. He’s a man who loves the land here, and is working to raise beef cows in a sustainable way. He’s got good taste, because he loves something else found here in Wisconsin…

“I’m first-generation in Wisconsin. The women brought me here.”

“There’s some beautiful days out on the land that you wouldn’t see if you weren’t farming. You put in long days, but boy, there’s times you’re out there…that always strikes me, the beauty of creation. And I didn’t grow up with that. So I’m just hoping I can take care of it and share it with other people.

I’ve always been concerned about the land, our environment and our health, that we’re taking care of both. I found that if I raised cattle right, I could positively impact both. Our management and stewardship of the livestock can be a benefit to both us and to our environment.

I’m a first-generation farmer, and you need so many skills to be a farmer. You have to have a fair amount of knowledge in a variety of areas. From mechanics to biology, from the logistics of running a business and managing people to selling and marketing…I’m always learning.”

-Paul | Wausau, WI

Alberto and Holly have a love story that spans continents. They also have a sweet coffee business, Condor Coffee Company in Wausau, where they now live. They do a lot of cool things, like buying fair trade beans, using their coffee for school fundraisers, and doing a little brewing education here and there. They even gave us a few piping cups when we photographed them one day in the rain.

Alberto: "I’m from the Andes mountains, but went to the city to study medicine. When I was there I met a foreign exchange student from the United States; her name was Holly. Two weeks later, I asked her to marry me. She said yes…she brought me back to the US as her souvenir."

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