Paul Ehrhardt and Kay Jensen can trace their families' farming history back for hundreds of years, and are proud to continue that tradition today. Growing up on small dairy farms, they both learned from an early age that a farmer could make an honest living without having a large plot of land or hundreds of animals.
When they were ready to go to college, the farming life brought them together at the University of Wisconsin, where they both majored in agriculture. After college, both took full time jobs, but continued to dream of owning their own operation, until thirteen years ago, when they purchased a plot in Sun Prairie that they named JenEhr Family Farm, using a portmanteau of their last names.
From the beginning, Ehrhardt and Jensen were determined to farm on a "personal level," which to them meant a focus on organic and sustainable farming in lieu of typical commercial farming practices such as pesticides and GMO crops. In the beginning, each kept their day jobs, but as the farm grew, they slowly cut back hours, until they finally became full time farmers.
Today, JenEhr Family Farm has two full-time employees, six seasonal employees, two interns, and a small army of weeders and berry-pickers. In addition, Ehrhardt and Jensen have two children: a son who helps out around the house, and a daughter who helps run the "You-Pick" business, where customers can pick their own strawberries, currants, and gooseberries.
Along with berries, JenEhr Family Farm also sells broccoli, cauliflower, garlic scapes, and onions, and announce when they come into season on Twitter. Their products can be found at the Dane County Farmers' Market on Pinckney Street, as well as the Westside Community Market, theCapitol View Farmers' Market and the West Allis Farmers' Market. Produce from JenEhr can also be found at the Willy Street Co-op, Eldorado Grill, Monty's Blue Plate Diner, and Harvest restaurants in Madison. As if there weren't already enough places to find their products, they also offer shares in a CSA, which currently serves around 500 families.
What's the one product you wish you grew but don't?
Paul Ehrhardt: Bananas, although it just doesn't seem to work. We experiment all the time, but we currently grow pretty much everything that we want to grow.
What's one thing that people should know about JenEhr Family Farm?
Our farm is truly a partnership. We both take enormous pride in our work, products, and style of farming.
Do you have a recipe to share?
Garlic Scape Pesto
The recipe is:
1 pound garlic scapes
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil (about 1/2 to 1 cup)
Pine nuts if available
Chop the garlic scapes into 3-inch lengths. Place into food processor and process until pureed. Add the parmesan and pine nuts, and process until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil as the food processor runs and continue until all the oil is combined into the garlic. Refrigerate in an air-tight jar.