The Farmer Behind the Food: Stephanie Bartel, Old Plank Farm

Written by Jamie Ferschinger
    Friday, 15 February 2013

Old Plank Farm is in its fifth year as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm offering sustainably grown produce, eggs and poultry to the Milwaukee area. The farm is located on 25 acres in Sheboygan County in the town of Plymouth.

Stephanie Bartel owns and operates Old Plank Farm. Prior to beginning this farm five years ago, she worked for several years at a neighboring CSA, Springdale Farm. With her excellent crew of interns, Stephanie is excited to be able to provide CSA boxes for nearly 200 families this coming season. She lives and works at her 25 acre farm year round, taking care of the laying flocks in the winter, and endlessly reading and studying ways to improve her land, farm and produce each year.

“Also, a few other things of note that I am working on for this year: community building is a big deal to me at this farm. This year I (and the crew) will be working on making the farm open to CSA members on Sunday evenings for visiting, seeing the plants, chatting with us farmers and sharing in wood-fired pizza made with our own vegetables. Another way I'd like to keep members connected is by starting a Facebook page. We've recently made one for the farm, which offers some pictures and other information about what's going on here. This will be updated throughout the season so members who can't come to the farm can still have a virtual tour on a regular basis,” says Stephanie.
This coming year's Old Plank farm interns are Paul Brodzick -- returning from last season, who does (among many, many things) the Milwaukee-area deliveries each week; Aubrey Newton -- local college student who has volunteered in the past and is coming back for a full-fledged internship; Cliff Newton -- Aubrey's older brother who is in and out throughout the seasons helping with all sorts of projects including building a chicken plucker and building several greenhouses; Ben Barker -- West Bend native and gardener of about four years now who will be on the farm until he heads off to college in the fall; and Oscar Mendez -- Chicago native who is new this year! Others who regularly lend a hand are Sammi and Ryan Laswell -- locals from Sheboygan who will have their six-month old LuLu along this year! And let's not forget Stephanie’s mother and even grandmother who are always willing to help wash eggs whenever they visit.

“The people who come and go from the farm always surprise me. We have so many visitors, mostly volunteers, often from different countries, who are drawn here because of what we do. We're all so different but the work at the farm brings everyone together; people have a really good time and that always surprises me because the work is really hard sometimes, things are often messy, and there aren't many creature comforts here!” says Stephanie.

2013 LFOH logoYou can meet these farmers and many others at the Local Farmer Open House on March 9th at our Riverside Park branch. Meet and sign up with farmers, learn how you can join a CSA farm (purchase a share of the harvest) and get a box of fresh produce each week during the season. Join us for this free event!

Jamie Ferschinger

Jamie Ferschinger

With a Bachelor's degree in Biology and Communications and a Master's degree in Conservation Biology, Jamie brings a wealth of experiences and deep passion to her work at the Urban Ecology Center. As Branch Manager of the Riverside Park Branch, she helps to ensure that things are running smoothly and everybody is happy! Outside of work, Jamie enjoys running when the sun is coming up, spending time outside, cooking, listening to music and traveling to new places.


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