Editor’s note: The following is the third in a series of articles highlighting each of the four farms that make up the stops on the 2019 Tour ‘de Farm ride to be held on June 29. It was just confirmed that the 72nd Alice In Dairyland, Abigail Martin, will be stopping by the last stop of the tour and speaking at the dinner following the ride. Next week we will take a break from the “farm” articles and feature Martin. Registration deadline and information appears at the end of the article.
By Jerry Clark | Special to the Advance
Farms have needed to adapt to change as markets, commodity prices, and consumer preferences change. Over the years, few farms have changed as much as Klinger Farm Market. From a traditional dairy farm to one of the most sought out destinations for flowers and fresh produce, the Klinger family has embraced a changing agricultural industry and strives to meet the demand of its customers.
The Klinger family will host the third stop of the Tour ‘de Farm ride at their market located on 132nd Street just west of State Highway 124. The ride is scheduled for June 29.
The farm has been in the family since 1904 when Max Klinger arrived from southern Wisconsin and started a traditional 160 acre dairy farm. From their beginning as a dairy farm, the family takes pride in how their farm has changed over time. Changes have included the raising of fox and mink to fresh produce and flowers as well as expansion into corn and soybeans. Many local residents today remember when the Klinger farm raised mink. John Klinger (second generation) started the raising of mink which ended in 1995.
Most customers of Klinger Farm Market don’t realize there are two family-owned and operated businesses by the Klinger family. Many see the Farm Market side with expansive greenhouses, a store, and fresh produce market. What is sort of hidden in the Klinger family farm is the farm which includes 1,200 acres and produces primarily corn and soybeans for the commodity market.
Fresh produce is grown on approximately 60 acres and includes sweet corn, potatoes, and tomatoes. Other vegetables grown on smaller acreages are pumpkins, squash, ornamental corn, and cucumbers.
Potatoes were the major produce crop for the Klinger family in the 1960s and 1970s. Dennis Klinger (third generation) acquired certified seed potatoes from an FFA project and started growing potatoes which continues to this day on the farm. The greenhouse and market was officially launched in 1982 and had origins much earlier. The first greenhouse was built to get vegetable seeds started earlier with the plants then transplanted and the produce sold at the market. Dave Klinger (third generation) was, and still is, a flower hobbyist and with help from brother Bob and Mary Klinger Amelse launched the greenhouse and flower business you experience today.
Currently, Klinger Farm Market has 18 greenhouses on the property and is going through a 15,000 square foot greenhouse expansion to be completed in 2019. The number one revenue generator on the farm is flowers with over 60 percent of overall revenue of the farm coming from flower sales. Sweet corn grown on the farm is the second largest revenue generator. With many diverse crops, it demonstrates the Klinger farm’s ability to adapt to a changing industry and customer base.
Currently, the fifth generation is highly engaged in the farm and market with family members beginning to specialize in certain areas of the farm. A sixth generation is currently helping out and learning the ropes. The Klinger family enjoys partnering with local farms to grow and sell their produce at their market such as fruit crops.
During the tour stop at Klinger’s Farm Market, the safety program will address small equipment safety and the importance of personal protective equipment presented by UW-Madison Extension Chippewa County agriculture agent Jerry Clark and UW Agriculture Safety and Health Specialist Cheryl Skjolaas. You will also be treated to Apple Cider Doughnuts and Apple Cider courtesy of Niblett’s Apple Shed.
The next stop on the tour will be Mayerlane Holsteins, the Don and Liz Mayer farm. Deadline to register for the ride is June 10. Registration and additional information is available at https://foreverinourfields.com/