DE PERE – It’s no surprise farms grow things. But a Baileys Harbor-based organic farm says it started growing at exactly the right time.
Waseda Farms now has a farm market store in De Pere, catering to the customer’s needs.
"What do you want to see? What are the things you want?” These are questions Matt Lutsey says he’s asked customers since opening. “And we can grow to fill the needs of people," he explained.
As opposed to telling people what they want.
Seeking organic out
Phil Ohlinger, a senior at St. Norbert College, says he tries to eat organically-grown and raised foods when possible.
"Eating local saves a lot of resources," said Ohlinger, while perusing the store for Greek yogurt and almonds.
The Fond du Lac native majoring in environmental sciences says the store is something he’s been looking and hoping for.
“You’re proud to stand behind what you’re doing and that means a lot to a lot of people,” said Lutsey. Lutsey's father, Tom, started the business in 2008, raising organic, grass-fed livestock at their farm in Baileys Harbor in Door County. "We started growing at exactly the right time."
"We needed another outlet, and we needed to grow. And when you're in Door County, you can only grow in one direction," Lutsey added.
Opening the store in downtown De Pere, near the St. Norbert campus was by no coincidence.
"There's a lot of things that point to this being the right location," said Lutsey. "We're going to be a farm market, 7-days a week."
That means offering local, organic products normally found at the area's seasonal farmers markets; but in this case, year-round.
"Being well-rounded is really important. Having not just the meat, but the produce, then the dairy and the cheese – and it can be a slippery rabbit hole of what products you're going to carry and not carry."
Lutsey says it's a bit of a balancing act right now – ensuring that the store shelves have products that people are expecting, while working to partner with more producers in the area.
According to a recently released report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2012, Wisconsin's 1,180 organic farms sold more than $120 million in goods.
Wisconsin has the second-most organic farms in the nation, following California.
Its roughly 3,000 farms sold sold more than $1.35 billion of goods, followed by Washington’s $291.4 million and Oregon’s $194.3 million.
Lutsey admits organic is too expensive for some people. But he says you know where the money is staying.
"Your food cost dollars stay right here in Northeast Wisconsin, supporting your friends, families and neighbors as opposed to sending it off to California or Mexico or China."
An official grand opening for Waseda Farms market in De Pere is scheduled for later this month.
Lutsey says there are already plans for expanding – offering pre-made sandwiches and soups.