The Farm

What we do

The Farm grows fresh fruits and vegetables for the express purpose of feeding the hungry, creating a reliable source of healthy food for our network. Every pound of produce is delivered free of charge. All the Wisconsin staples are grown, including corn, peppers, green beans, asparagus, apples, pears and cantaloupe—over 30 varieties of fruits and vegetables in all!

Fruits (and vegetables) of our Labor

The Farm produces over 750,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables every year. All delivered free to the hungry in Milwaukee.

Educating kids

We don’t just feed kids—we also teach them about healthy eating! Our Dietitian Educator travels to local Milwaukee Public Schools teaching nutrition education to low-income kids. Then we bring them out to the Farm where they get to work in our school garden and get hands-on experience learning why fruits and vegetables are so important. The garden has 28 raised garden beds where kids get to grow, harvest, and taste-test their own Wisconsin produce.

If you are interested in bringing a children’s group out to the Farm please contact our Dietitian Educator via email or call directly at (414) 588-7193.

The Granary

Hunger Task Force is currently repurposing the historic 2,944 square-foot granary building as an Education Center. This will serve as the primary entry point for thousands of volunteers and community members who visit the Farm. Reconstruction will include:

  • volunteer education and orientation displays
  • community meeting space for local organizations and affiliated partners
  • information on agricultural and gardening practices for urban residents

The Farm has wetlands along the Root River, prairies, woodlands, and a very rare 43 acre woods called the Hidden Oaks Savanna. The natural areas is one of two publicly owned oak savannas in Milwaukee County and provides outdoor education and recreation, offering three miles of interpretive hiking trails.

Some trees you’ll find in the Hidden Oaks Savanna include massive open grown white oak, swamp white oak, shagbark hickory and bur oak. As restoration continues, the woods have the potential to provide improved habitat for species such as the red-headed woodpecker, orchard oriole, eastern bluebird, brown thrasher, sedge wren, marsh wren, blue spotted salamander, western chorus frog and various warblers.

Natural areas

Once upon a time…

The history of the Farm goes back to the 1800s when it was Carman Family dairy farm and homestead. In 1946 it was reinvented as a prison work farm. The principle mission of the work farm was to produce food for use at the neighboring correctional facility, and as well as other County facilities such as hospitals.

In 2004, the Farm began to grow and distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to Milwaukee’s hungry through Hunger Task Force. Over the next eight years, Hunger Task Force annually raised necessary operating costs to keep the Farm running, as well as fought off numerous attempts to shutter the Farm and its facilities. In 2011, the inmate labor model was abandoned, opening the Farm to a new model of operation that utilized community volunteers.

In 2012, Hunger Task Force entered into a 30-year lease with Milwaukee County Parks to operate the Farm for the long-term. The lease includes 208 acres of land, plus a 43-acre Oak Savanna. Hunger Task Force continues to meet all operating costs and delivers 750,000 pounds of fresh produce to the hungry in Milwaukee thanks to the help of thousands of community volunteers.

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Sustainability

As the acting and future steward of this land, Hunger Task Force has an obligation to be mindful about the use of natural resources that keep the farm in operation, especially soil and water resources. The Farm is continuously developing vegetable production systems that allow us to efficiently and effectively provide fresh, high quality produce to our network. Our production systems incorporate methods that enhance environmental quality and natural resources. We keep honey bees to assist with pollination. Annual vegetable crops are rotated to different fields each year to maintain soil health. Cover crops are used at both ends of the growing season as well as through the summer months to reduce erosion, return nutrients to the soil, reduce water run-off and enhance the biological activity. In addition, volunteers perform hand weeding to reduce chemical controls of weeds.

What we do

The Farm grows fresh fruits and vegetables for the express purpose of feeding the hungry, creating a reliable source of healthy food for our network. Every pound of produce is delivered free of charge. All the Wisconsin staples are grown, including corn, peppers, green beans, asparagus, apples, pears and cantaloupe—over 30 varieties of fruits and vegetables in all!