Located just Southwest of Plymouth and alongside the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forrest, Springdale Farm sits peacefully in a valley. In the fall of 1987, Peter and Bernadette Seely moved to Wisconsin to start their farm with a business model that was new to the midwest: Community Supported Agriculture. When their farm first opened in 1988, they had 45 members that subscribed to the farm in order to receive fresh produce every week of the growing season based on which crops were available. “It seemed like a good idea to build a better economy based on good food,” says Peter Seely.
Raised in a suburb of New York City, Peter didn’t know much about farming but when a movement for organic food started in the 70s and early 80s Peter states, “the role of food and health became pretty obvious to me.” So he apprenticed at an organic vegetable farm in Maine for a summer, which first made him consider farming full time. A few years later, Peter taught high school math at a school in Iowa where he first met his soon-to be-wife Bernadette. The school had a garden that was part of a program to teach kids about farming that Bernadette and Peter managed together. In 1986, the couple spent a season touring farms, and among them were the first CSAs in the country. After learning how these farms functioned, the couple thought: “Let’s see if that idea could take route here in Wisconsin.”
That idea took off. For the first 20 years, they had a waiting list for their CSA, which serves Sheboygan, Ozaukee and Milwaukee counties. Springdale is now one of about 12 farms in Southeast Wisconsin that follow the Community Supported Agriculture model. The farmers are in the process of creating a group called CSA Farms of Southeast Wisconsin, in which they help each other with advice and outreach about CSAs.
“So how does Springdale Farm benefit the Milwaukee community?”, I asked Peter Seely. As a CSA member, Peter explains, people “know they are directly supporting a local farm dedicated to keeping the soil and the environment safe to pass it on to future generations.” Additionally, people know exactly where their food comes from and can have it delivered the day after it was picked from the field.
Now 29 years later, Peter and Bernadette Seely have 750 CSA members, 13 greenhouses, electric tractors powered by solar panels and a continued mission to provide healthy food and a sustainable future for our environment. And in case you’re wondering, their favorite thing to cook this time of year is pesto.
Learn more about the farm on their website: www.SpringdaleFarmCSA.org