Tony Whitefeather said he started Whitefeather Organics in 2006 out of two desires — wanting to “feel self-worth in a complex world” and “selfishly wanting a simple way of life.”
“I think the way we farm is a chosen relationship that we have made with the planet to plow our existence; may we not take lightly how that looks abstractly,” he said.
The Custer area farm started with the planting of winter rye, garlic and shiitake mushrooms, but Whitefeather, who farms with his wife, Laura, said “good things tend to evolve into what they are more than a perfect execution of a plan.”
The farm has evolved into a community-supported agriculture operation in which they offers a variety of pre-picked produce to customers throughout the growing season. They offer spring, summer and fall CSA shares from the beginning of April through November.
The farm also partners with the Farmshed’s Frozen Assets program to sell frozen vegetables from November through April through a CSA program serving central Wisconsin.
The farm participates in the Stevens Point Area Winter Farmers’ Market, where much of their produce, along with eggs and meat, can be purchased directly from November through April.
The farm’s CSA baskets are available for pickup in Stevens Point, Plover, Wisconsin Rapids, Weston and at the farm. They also do wholesale orders for local restaurant, grocery stores and local businesses, providing vegetables, meats and eggs for the community to enjoy.
Like other farms, Whitefeather Organics experiences a variety of struggles. But unlike many other farms, they built their entire operation from scratch, starting with a piece of land and building a barn. The Whitefeathers are nearing the final stages of building their new home.
One of the hardest struggles to overcome, they said, was learning how to balance raising their family and running their farm. After many years of working multiple jobs, the Whitefeathers decided to quit their off-farm jobs and make the leap into full-time farming.
The Whitefeathers have offered pizza nights on the farm in the past, and they hope to again in the future.
In 2017, the farm began offering pizza nights to the public. They followed all food safety regulations but were unaware that there may be a land use zoning issue with the county, and the county didn’t seem to be aware of the zoning issue.
As a result, the farm was able to finish out that year’s pizza nights, but they did not offer pizza nights in 2018 and will not be able to offer pizza nights until completion of the exemption form to become a restaurant.
“This process entails the building of the house to be complete first, then to go in front of the township with a detailed operating plan to ask input for exception, and finally taking the township’s input to the county to get on the board’s agenda, waiting to see if it is revised and passes the exemption,” Whitefeather said.