Available to rent, in part or whole, starting 2018. This 54 acre farm is located just a half hour west of Oshkosh and Fond du Lac (WI). Approximately 32 acres are under cultivation by a conventional farmer at this time (late 2016). Soil is sandy loam, with the current farmer keeping up with soil fertility additives, but soil has not been tested. The north 1/3 is in alfalfa (about 4 years old at this point), and the south 2/3 have been rotated through corn, soybeans, wheat, and oats. The address is N7564 Springbrook Rd., Green Lake, WI. School district is Berlin.
The screenshot from Google Maps above shows a house, but that is no longer there. There are only 3 very small sheds at this time. There is a slight up hill slant from the roadway toward the northeast corner. The blue line on the map indicates an underground gas pipeline.
The site has few trees and is consequently windy. You might have problems with high tunnels, but caterpillar tunnels should work. The southwest 1/3 of the property is marsh and a few oak trees on higher ground. Be forewarned there are ticks on the farm, which in some years are very plentiful. Deer are also a problem, so putting up deer fencing will be a necessity for a veggie/fruit space.
Hopefully a garage will be put up this summer (2017), which will precede a small house next summer (2018). Electricity and seasonal well water will be brought into the garage, but you should not count on a steady water supply for irrigation. I had the well water tested last summer before the house came down and it only showed an elevated level of manganese; even though safe for drinking it does have a fairly sulfurous odor. I will make an effort to at least catch rainwater runoff from a shed in a large tank for the purpose of irrigation if a temporary hook up to the well isn’t possible in the short term. A porta-potty will be brought in until the main house is built.
Housing in the area is fairly affordable. If you have children, or plan to soon, you might want to consider establishing residence in or near Ripon, which is about 20 minutes southeast from the farm. Ripon has a great school district, as well as a small liberal arts college. Ripon is the quintessential small upper Midwestern town. There is also a new (2013) hospital on the east side of town (I work in the lab there).
Green Lake is a very small town, but has a moderate seasonal population. Farmers’ markets in Ripon, Green Lake, or Berlin might be questionable for ROI, but Appleton, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac would offer healthy markets. There’s a very large Saturday farmers’ market in Appleton, but has a considerable wait list I’ve heard. High end and progressive restaurants in the Fox Valley are likely abundant enough to potentially establish some good revenue. The Fox Valley generally includes Little Chute, Kimberly, Appleton, Neenah, and Menasha. Some people also include Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac.
Why I’m Renting Out the Farm
In giving you a little background on myself, with some of my values and standards, I hope to give you a better idea if renting this farm from me would be a good fit… or not.
In the next year my son is getting ready to set sail for college – and possibly the Air Force. After maintaining a co-parenting arrangement in Appleton for the past decade I will soon be free to move to the farm, a piece of land my grandparents acquired about 90 years ago. After my grandparents passed my mom then owned the land, but decided to simply rent it to a neighboring farmer. I’m glad she kept it, and now offers me the chance to become it’s steward! I have been looking forward to have a farm since I was very little. Life circumstances never allowed me to take that path… until now.
Now at “middle age” I’m finding my physical abilities are not conducive to running a farming operation on my own. A small homestead is more my speed, so I’m planning to designate the northeast corner of the farm to that. Renting out the rest of the farm (in part or whole) to an organic/sustainable farmer(s) I feel is the best use of the land. Conventional farms abound everywhere, and I don’t feel obligated to rent to that business model any longer. If I can’t work the farm into the agrarian paradise I’ve envisioned on my own then I’d like to find a person or couple that has the same vision, but a lot more energy. Fine details of who does what on the farm will be spelled out in our contract to hopefully head off any misunderstandings. Part of the reason I’m advertising so far ahead of when the farm is available is to give us ample time to negotiate these kind of details.
If I were to manage the farm on my own my first step would be to plant everything into grass pasture. Next would be to apply for an NRCS grant to plant many trees and shrubs along the north and east edges. A rotational grazing system with sheep would probably be the most feasible operation I could manage on my own, based in an agroforestry/permaculture design. I’ve toyed with the idea of sheep’s milk cheese, but regulations on dairy and cheesemaking in Wisconsin are staggering. Who knows, I may end up with a small milking sheep flock and making a bit of cheese (legally) someday… just to prove that I can 🙂
Building a tiny cabin at the edge of the marsh for farmstay visitors has also crossed my mind. Offering this kind of space as a retreat for “busy city dwellers” also seems like a worthy use of such a great natural space. Why not offer an opportunity for overnight visitors to slow down and recharge their batteries? Zoning regulations might be a hurdle on this one though.
Ideally I’d like to rent to you a year at a time for the first 2-3 years, mostly so we can get a better feel for each others’ styles. If things gel I can envision a much longer lease on the property. Unfortunately, there will be no opportunity to purchase the farm as it’s held in a family trust (there is a chain of several family members this land will flow to in the event of my demise).
I am open to different ideas of what to do with this farm, but generally the vision is toward organic/ sustainable/ permaculture/ agroforestry type activities.
You should know up front that I’m an introvert. Being alone is invigorating, and being with people is draining. I’ve learned many coping strategies for larger social gatherings over the years, and have a very small circle of long time friends that I get together with occasionally. It takes me years to really get to open up and know people. My home is my refuge and it’s not easy for me to invite people in. So please don’t be offended if I’m not as warm and fuzzy and inviting as you’d like. We may share ideals on how to farm organically, but there will definitely be “your space” and “my space”. I feel it’s best to get that out of the way so you’re not surprised when I just wave from a distance and carry on with my day. Likewise, I don’t expect you to open up your personal or family life to me.
I’m also a bit of a clean freak, although not super obsessed with it. Keeping dog poo picked up, the garden and yard weeded, and taking shoes off by the door are high on my list of priorities. Collections of miscellaneous building materials outside are ok as long as they’re stacked neatly with no protruding sharp objects. Vehicles parked on lawns for an extended periods is not ok, as well as vehicles/trailers/buildings in disrepair.
Anything that poses a safety hazard, like unbound wire fencing, scattered nails and screws, or small toys with wheels around the yard should be avoided (list could go on). Farms are hazardous enough as they are. Let’s not add to the hazards.
A Note on Dogs
I love dogs. Fritz, a little 18 pound terrier-poodle mix, is currently my 5th canine companion. He’s the typical high strung terrier personality with a high prey drive. A little frustrating at times! But, even though I love dogs I believe they need to be kept under control on the farm, only with short periods of off-leash freedom. Yes, unforeseen accidents happen when dogs are off leash in term of what they kill, but ultimately the owner is responsible for any destruction they do. There will only be a one-time pass if livestock are killed. Dogs chasing livestock is also a big “nope!”. Dogs also need to be fenced out from food production areas for sanitation reasons (I think GAP certification would require this anyway).
In general I have some really mixed feelings about having dogs on the farm. They’re great companions, but they can end up doing a lot of damage and possibly hurting visitors. If I acquire sheep I’ll most likely need to get a guard dog or 2 to stay with the flock. Reciprocal dog sitting is a likely possibility (but that would be part of our negotiations). Dogs will be considered on a case by case basis.
Get in Touch
If you feel inspired to ask more questions or visit the farm please drop me a line at blueeggfarm7564-at-gmail-dot-com (or use the contact form).