Fondy Farm Project
In 2019, the farm project is supporting 26 farm families – creating a patchwork of small farms on 40 acres of land!
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. Since 2018, Fondy has discontinued the Port Washington Farm and continues to increase the acreage of the Fondy Farm @ MNP. The farm increases the capacity to provide fresh, local, affordable produce to Greater Milwaukee.
The Fondy Farms offers 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, Stephen Petro. 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.
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 farmers primarily sell their produce just 12 miles away at the Fondy Farmers Market – a century old market located on Milwaukee’s Northside, and a nationally recognized leader in connecting low-income consumers with the benefits of farmers markets.
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.