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Hobby farms catch on with Wisconsin residents

Article from Fox 21 News

By Madeline Nordholm, Wisconsin Public Radio

MADISON (WPR) More Wisconsin residents are rolling up their sleeves and digging in the dirt, to produce their own food.

The 2007 Wisconsin census of agriculture reports that the number of small farms, those less than 50 acres, has jumped nearly 30-percent since 2002.  Most of the increase is due to small start-up farms, rather than larger farms downsizing. 

Diane Mayerfeld, of the UW extension’s Small Farms team, says that most of these new farmers are not working the land for a living but rather as a hobby.  She says the USDA refers to these as “lifestyle residential farms”, and people who have them love the challenge of farming, want to be closer to the land, be part of nature, and also be part of producing “something very elemental like food.”

One hobby farmer is Gay Davidson Zielske, an English professor at UW-Whitewater.  She maintains a small vegetable garden and chicken coop.  Zielske says it is important to know where your food is coming from, eat what you raise, and “get back to real food”.

Not only are new hobby-farms springing up across Wisconsin, but also new farmer’s markets and community supported agriculture operations.  Mayerfeld says this is part of a national trend and reflects the increased interest in the environment and sustainable agriculture.


Information from Wisconsin Public Radio,



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