Fondy Farm Project
The Fondy Farm Project was established in 2010 to support farmers selling at the Fondy Farmers Market. When it was realized that Fondy’s primarily low income, immigrant Hmong farmers were dropping out of farming to due numerous challenges, Fondy responded by establishing the Fondy Farm @ Port Washington, WI. In response to increased demand, a second location was opened in 2017 – the Fondy Farm @ Mequon Nature Preserve. Our farms increase the capacity to provide fresh, local, affordable produce to Greater Milwaukee.
The Fondy Farms offer affordable, long term leases on quality land plus the amenities needed to succeed, such as irrigation, greenhouses, tractors, as well as technical and business assistance from the Fondy Farm Director. Supported by past and current grants from the national and local foundations, as well as individual donations and annual farm income, this farm ensures the continued supply of sustainably grown, local produce to neighborhoods with little access to healthy food.
In 2012 a heritage fruit orchard was planted at the Fondy Farm @ Port Washington. Apple varieties such as the Wolf River, Zester, and Milwaukee, along with cherries, plums, pears, and apricots will provide an additional source of income for the farmers and diversified produce access to Fondy Farmers Market customers once the trees bear fruit. In 2013, a hops yard was established—and in 2014, the first beer was brewed using Fondy Hops. Fondy Fresh Hop beer can be found each fall at Company Brewing in Milwaukee.
Recognizing the need for a continuing supply of beginning farmers, Fondy is also continuing to grow tomorrow’s farmers through innovative collaborations with Alice’s Garden and Walnut Way Conservation Corp. One group of farmers—Alice’s Garden MOVE crew (More Organic Vegetables for Everyone) – is comprised of young people from Milwaukee’s North Side who are interested in exploring careers in organic farming and food production/marketing. The MOVE crew learns agricultural and business skills at the Fondy Farm and marketing skills at the Fondy Farmers Market.
With the access to quality land, and the stability of long term leases, Fondy farmers have been able to invest in high value, perennial crops such as asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, and more. The dozen farmers at Fondy Farm sell their produce at the Fondy Farmers Market. A recent wholesale initiative, coordinated by the Fondy Farm Director, has created additional market streams for the farmers. This supports economic viability for the farmers and fills a need for growing local food demand.
Land Access & Pathways to Ownership
Demand for land continues to outstrip supply and Fondy is working with partners to find strategies to meet that demand. In addition to working with MNP, Fondy is engaged in an innovative partnership with the Land Trust Alliance, Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District, and others, to explore pathways to ownership for socially disadvantaged farmers. The goal is to connect more small farmers with access to land, while preserving farmland for future generations, and utilizing sustainable farming techniques to improve water quality and run off in the Milwaukee River watershed. The partners have identified more than 32 farmers have expressed interest in land ownership and a parcel of land that meets the requirements for farming, proximity to the City of Milwaukee, and conservation and watershed funding. Divergent land ownership models and financing structures are being explored. The land has just come under contract with the OWLT and the partners are now in phase 2 of project planning with farmers and funders.