Our farm is located in Fredonia Wisconsin. We are in the northwest corner of Ozaukee County approximately 30 miles north of Milwaukee. We are exquisitely positioned in the rolling glacial drumlins of southeastern Wisconsin near Lake Michigan and the shores of the Milwaukee River. The land is rich and fertile and home to America’s Dairyland.
The farmhouse was built in 1890 by a farming family who immigrated to this area from Luxembourg. This particular area of Wisconsin had a large influx of immigrants from Luxembourg due to inexpensive fertile farmland and similar growing conditions to their native land. The house was built in the traditional log beam and field stone style. The farm was an active farm and stayed in one family for three generations. Although the house is 126 years old, we are only the third family to occupy this home.
In 1925 the barn was built, and a small herd of dairy cows was kept. The farm was an active dairy until the late 50’s or early 60’s.
Currently the property is 5 acres, just a small fraction of the 80 acres it once was. Seventy-five acres were sold off to a local farmer who now grows corn and soybeans. The remaining 5 acres on which our farm sits has sat fallow for many years. Our hope is that through sustainable and organic agricultural methods, we will breathe new life into this beautiful land.
The inspiration for the name "The Victory Garden Farm" came from a culmination of several things. First, I had a real love and affection for the old Victory Garden, or War Garden, propaganda posters dating to WWI and WWII. It was through researching those old posters that I came to learn about, and fall in love with, the history of the Victory Gardens. The entire Victory Garden concept resonated with me. Secondly the farm was built in the 1890s and the farm's location is near the birthplace of Flag Day. But perhaps most importantly, Andrew, my partner, is a military veteran. In addition, the heirloom plant varieties and heritage breed animals that I will be raising correspond to the same time period of the original Victory Gardens, so the name felt like a perfect fit.
Victory Gardens, or War Gardens, were fruit, vegetable and herb gardens planted by private citizens during WWI and WWII. The purpose of these gardens was to help to alleviate pressures related to the lack of food production during war time. Most of the agricultural workforce had been recruited to the military, so there was a death in food production. So in 1917, the National War Garden Commision was launched to help promote growing Victory Gardens. It was considered a patriotic and moral duty for people to help grow food for the country. Victory Gardens were planted at homes, on roadsides, and on rooftops. Gardens were planted anywhere and everywhere food could be grown. Nearly 20 million Victory Gardens were planted and 40% of all fruits and vegetables came from Victory Gardens during this time, proof that the government’s propaganda efforts had been successful.
Andrew and Vanessa were friends in high school and after more than 20 years apart, became reunited and fell in love. While Vanessa had farming experience, Andrew did not, and the two of them together participated in Stateline Farm Beginnings, a year long program for beginning farmers. In May 2015, Andrew purchased what would become The Victory Garden Farm and they hit the ground running. Vanessa is the primary farmer, though Andrew’s skills and roles are also crucial to the farm’s success.
The two of them hope that over time the farm business will grow to a place where it can sustain itself, allowing Vanessa to farm full time. As the business grows, the farm will grow, offering new things along the way. Andrew is the father of two beautiful daughters, Kaleigh and Victoria. Both girls are very busy and active in their academic pursuits. We are a modern day family doing our best to rekindle the old ways. Grow with us. We are The Victory Garden Farm.
I was born in the Bronx, New York and moved to Wisconsin when I was five years old. Transitioning from the congestion of the inner city to the wide open spaces of rural Wisconsin drastically changed my life's path.
My new life in Wisconsin allowed me free access to the outside world. Something I never had living in the projects of the Bronx. I loved my new found freedom and adapted well to my new “country” life. My step father’s parents had a small family farm. I have many fond memories of my time on that farm, being outside and spending time with the animals. Later, my family moved onto our own small farm, where my mother and I kept a large garden, and we had animals of our own.
My first jobs as I entered the workforce were “farm” jobs. I worked at several horse farms. I learned how to drive tractors and bale hay, as well as how to handle the horses. I really enjoyed working with the animals and being outside. I have always felt the most comfortable when working outdoors.
After high school a strong wanderlust set in, so I set out into the world. I spent time living in Arizona, Washington, California, and Colorado working in hospitality in all of its facets. I worked in all areas of the food service industry, as well as in hotels and later in spas as a massage therapist. Hospitality always served me well, as it allowed me to travel and make a good living. In between living in theses places, I lived and traveled on cruise ships for five years, working as massage therapist. When all was said and done, I had traveled to over 60 countries worldwide and had lived in 5 different states.
Farm aspirations started to set in while I was working aboard cruise ships. I started to see and realize that the adverse health conditions of many of my massage clients was a direct correlation to poor food choices. This inspired me to learn more about nutrition, natural health and food as a whole. The more I learned, the more I came to realize that growing my own food was the only way to have true peace of mind.
In 2011 I took a leap of faith and took my first farm internship. The experience was better than I could have hoped for and after that first season I knew farming was what I wanted to do. Everything about farming resonated with me. I worked as an intern for 3 growing seasons, and as a farm manager for one season. Working at different farms allowed me to learn and acquire new skills. In 2015, the farm that would become The Victory Garden Farm was purchased. 2016 was the farm's very first year of production.
Originally from Alaska, then settling in Wisconsin, Andrew grew up in Ozaukee county. After attending UW-Milwaukee he joined the US Air Force and served for more than 12 years between active duty and the national guard as a respiratory therapist and later a convoy commander in a gun truck unit assigned to the US Army. After his final tour in Iraq, he separated with numerous awards and came home to Grafton to focus on raising his beautiful daughters, Kaleigh and Tori, as a single parent. He now proudly serves our community by leading a team of talented individuals in healthcare information technology.
Andrew, Vanessa’s encouraging partner, purchased the farm in the summer of 2015. He enjoys the quiet of the country and contributing to the farm work, taking care of animals, and working on infrastructure upgrades/repairs.