Kat Becker: Stoney Acres Farms
By Lisa Kivirist | Photos By Lisa Kivirist 0
Growing organic vegetables resonates so strongly with Kat Becker, she even gives her kids vegetables nicknames.
“We started calling our middle son, Ted, ‘sweet as a golden beet’ because he is so blonde. Then our oldest, Riley, needed a code name so he chose ‘Red Russian Kale’ with his red hair,” explains Kat Becker with a grin. “When our youngest, Maple, was born last year, she had such dark hair that one of the boys dubbed her “Black Radish” for the pirate appeal.”
Blending fun with a big picture goal of transforming the future of local and organic agriculture fuels Kat as she and her husband, Tony Schultz, run Stoney Acres Farm in Athens, Wisconsin, about 30 minutes west of Wausau. Now in their eighth growing season, this dynamic duo runs a highly diversified operation and serve as the third generation of farmers on Schultz family land. The core of Stoney Acres Farm includes a 20 week CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) vegetable operation, along with herb, fruit and flower production, grass fed beef, pastured pork and chicken, organic grains, maple syrup and their newest venture: farm to table pizzas served on Friday nights from May through November.
Spend the day at Stoney Acres during a workshop for women farmers on Friday, August 15. This workshop is part of the “In Her Boots: Sustainable Agriculture for Women, By Women” series facilitated by the Rural Women’s Project, a venture of the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). On the detailed farm tour, Kat will take you through the commercial kitchen certification process, tour their new packshed and renewable energy investments (a wood gasification and solar installment), hoophouses, field sites and more. Topics covered include running a diversified value-added business, organic techniques, CSA operations and family integration. Stay for their Farm-to-Table Pizza night that evening and experience first hand how farms are produce pizzas featuring their produce that not only help diversify income, but build community connections. Click here for more information on this In Her Boots workshop.
Read on for to learn more about Kat and see one of her favorite recipes:
Impossible to name just one. But as the mother of small children, anything that is not the Wiggles.
Dream for your farm:
Being energy neutral in seven years by producing our own solar power. Having one of our children come back to be a part of the farm and working side by side. And not a lot of weeds.
Favorite local food spot:
Urban Street Bistro is a hidden gem of a fabulous food truck here in Wausau.
What’s on your kitchen counter?
Bread, vegetables, a couple quarts of our maple syrup and something fermenting. I wish I had a bigger counter.
What’s your vision for family farms?
The family farm has been a central form of economic democracy in our country, and we hope to reinforce this tradition to support a healthy and socially just world for our kids and future generations.
Silent Spring and The Poisonwood Bible.
Website you’re on when no one is looking:
New York Times online, even when people are looking.
Favorite food you don’t produce:
Beer, cheese and blue corn chips.
Most interesting job prior to farming:
Rock climbing instructor
What’s the most you ever grew of something:
2013 was a bumper year for carrots and we harvested over 10,000 pounds and sold them throughout the Wausau Winter Farmer’s market. Who knew there were so many rural juicers who buy organic carrots by the fifty-pound bag.
Kale before it became cool and trendy. I love Dinosaur Kale in salads.
How do you keep learning?
I have a farm. It’s impossible not to. We’re always taking on new projects – from small grains to beef cows – and each has it’s own set of things to learn.
Oddest responsibility on the farm:
Chief pizza dough maker and poultry gutter. Not at the same time.
Last year, a young couple aspiring to be farmers showed up at our place and we were happy to help them connect some local opportunity dots and they ended up purchasing forty acres from Tony’s dad. Growing our local community of family farms gives us the deepest satisfaction.