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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Pizza Farm: An Unforgettable Experience

The Pizza Farm: An Unforgettable Experience

When I was younger, my grandparents lived on a dairy farm in Baldwin, Wis. I spent many summers making forts in the haymow with my big brother, playing in the corn silo, and helping my grandma with her massive vegetable garden. I can tell the difference between a Holstein and a Hereford (Holsteins are black and white dairy cows, while Hereford are brown and white and typically bred for beef), I know what it’s like to ride up high in a tractor (I can still picture the rows of tractors in my grandpa’s machine shed), and I know that farmers have a unique relationship with the weather and the land. They have to. Their livelihood depends on it.

I also know that a heifer is a young female, a cow is a mature female with at least one calf, and a bull is used for reproductive purposes. (And there’s your Farming 101 lesson for the day.)

My grandparents sold the farm in the early 90s, and I haven’t been on a working farm since then.

Fam at Pizza Farm Fast-forward to Tuesday, Aug. 7 and I was back on a Wisconsin farm. Only this time I was there for pizza.

That’s right. Pizza.

Our good friend Jeremy chose to celebrate his birthday—for the second year—at Pizza on the Farm in Stockholm, Wis., better known as simply “the Pizza Farm” by just about everyone who has gone (or wants to go).

Stockholm sits across Lake Pepin from Lake City, Minn., about an hour and a half from the Twin Cities metro. We took 61 to Hastings, crossed over into Wisconsin, and took the scenic 35 south to the little town of Stockholm. We left St. Paul at 4:45 p.m. and arrived at the Pizza Farm at 6:15, amazingly not getting lost along the way (there isn’t any signage for the farm). When we got close—four miles from Stockholm off County Road J, just past a country church—we saw a long, long line of cars parked along the side of the road. Thankfully we scored a spot really close to the action, eliminating the need to hike down a country road carrying our beverages, our picnic gear, and two little ones. At the Pizza Farm, they provide the pizza and you bring everything else: something to sit on (camping chairs or a blanket), a card table if you so choose, plates, napkins, beverages, side dishes, dessert, and even games to pass the time. Everything you bring in with you also goes out with you, so remember to bring a garbage bag along, too.

PizzaOur friends had arrived at 5:30 and put in a pizza order before we arrived, so we didn’t have to wait and wait and wait. (Many of the pizzas take up to an hour—or longer—depending on when you order. They have also been known to run out of ingredients as the night goes on, so make sure someone in your party gets there early!)

The backstory of Pizza on the Farm goes like this: Ted Fisher, Robbi Bannen, and their families run an organic farm and bakery, A-to-Z Produce and Bakery, and one night a week—Tuesdays from 4:30-8 p.m.—they open their farm to the general public, from March to November, and make rustic brick-oven pizzas. Clearly they’re doing something right, as there were a few hundred people enjoying the pizza (and the farm) the night we went. It’s especially cool to think they grow many of the ingredients right there on the farm, just like how it  was “back in the olden days.” The pizza, that you're eating, was made with things grown just a stone's throw from where you're sitting. How's that for fresh and local?

Our group consisted of 20 adults and four kids, and we ordered 11 pizzas. My favorite was the Kalamata Olives and Bulgarian Feta with fresh tomato, garlic, and basil. I’m not a fan of spicy, but the rest of the group really liked the Roasted Slab Bacon with sweet and hot peppers, tomato, sweet onion, Mozzarella, and Eau Galle Italian cheese, as well as the Italian Garden with roasted eggplant, zucchini, sweet peppers, sautéed kale, garlic, basil, tomato, Mozzarella, and Eau Galle Italian.

At $25-$28 per pizza, it’s not cheap, but you’re paying for not only really, really good pizza, but fresh air, a nice little picnic spot on a farm, and the overall experience (bonus: you’re supporting local farmers).

Pizza Farm groupEveryone in our group brought a dish to share, and we set up “camp” in a back corner of the farm, our own little oasis. Some played Frisbee, some sat and talked, some chased after the kids, some strolled along the grounds and checked out the animals, and others just relaxed with a glass of wine or cold beer. My boys were in their element running along the harvested fields. When the sun went down and it was time to leave, I think everyone was reluctant to go. It was the perfect way to spend a summer evening with friends.

Tips:

  • Show up early to stake a good spot on the lawn.
  • Don’t cancel your trip due to a little rain. If it’s too wet to eat outside, you can eat in the coop.
  • Bring your own garbage bags (like the Boundary Waters, it’s trash in, trash out). Also, bring your own chairs and table (or a picnic blanket), beverages, plates, sides, dessert, etc. I saw one couple enjoying their pizza and bottle of wine on a table decked in a red and white checkered tablecloth, complete with a floral centerpiece!
  • The pizzas are pre-designed; please don’t ask for substitutions. (It gets way too busy to modify orders.)
  • Bring cash. That’s the only form of payment accepted.
  • All fences are electric. Watch the little ones.
  • There can be long bathroom lines after 5 p.m. (The bathroom is an outhouse.) This might seem insignificant, but could be a deterrent for some.
  • No pets allowed.
  • Bring a flashlight so you can see what you’re doing as you pack up and walk back to your car. Trust me, you won’t want to leave until the sun goes down.

Pizza on the Farm
N2956 Anker Lane
Stockholm, WI 54769
715-448-4802

Posted on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 in Permalink

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