In 2015, Jessa and Jeff met at—of all places—a steampunk convention. They hit it off immediately, first bonding over their mutual experiences of single-parenthood and then geeking out over ideal pantry contents. Jeff was hooked as soon as he saw Jessa’s glass jar collection of bulk ingredients and the chicken coop in the backyard. Things moved quickly after that, and soon afterward Jessa proposed they move in together via ring-andouille sausage. Jambalaya was constructed, moving vans were commissioned, and a new family was born.
Combining two families of three wasn’t an easy feat. The family first settled in Milwaukee in a three-bedroom townhome, but continually sought different options. Jessa soon stumbled across an ad for a ten-acre farm rental, and it was a no brainer. They held six collective breaths and jumped in feet first, and thus in late 2018, Growanstede Smallhold came into being.
Our inaugural year of 2019 saw us successfully complete our very first CSA season using organic practices; feeding nine families with regular shares and an additional ten in the autumn with our Feastival boxes. We supplemented our offerings with heritage Norfolk Black turkeys and Welsh Harlequin ducks, as well as selling nearly 500 dozen chicken and duck eggs over the course of just the growing season. That’s somewhere close to 1,000 eggs sold a month!
We expanded for 2020, adding meat chickens, expanding our turkey and duck flocks, and creating additional share options. Year by year, we expand operations and grow as farmers and as a family. After three years of renting the property, we were able to purchase the farm in October of 2022, and infrastructure improvements began in earnest.
We can’t wait to farm for you again this year! We are so very proud to be your farmer. Thank you for partnering with us in this regenerative farm journey and for collaborating with us to steward this land.
Special thanks to Troy Freund of Troy Freund Photography for the stunning couples photos of us on this page!
Meet the Farmers
I’ve had a dream of farming ever since I was a young girl. Becoming a parent, however, is what ultimately launched a true understanding of the importance of real food; and I became driven to find and maintain ethical, healthy food choices for myself and my children. In 2011, after becoming a single mom, I helped to legalize henkeeping in the city of Milwaukee. Then I met Jeff, and the rest is history. He is the best man I have ever known, and this family we’ve forged is a special one. Though I am the primary off-farm income producer, it means a lot to finally have my hands in the soil when I can in a space we are truly working to make our own.
Using what Jessa calls my “maker” skills, I build dreams into reality; that’s my role here on the home front. I like long walks in the garden to watch the sun set with a trusty mouse-catching, rabbit-chasing cat named Marvin. He’s the not-so-silent, always meowing farmhand demanding food and attention while rubbing your face with his own smelly (sometimes crusty) one. I get to work on my farmer’s tan on the most hot and humid of summer days weeding beds, harvesting and being eaten alive by bugs, all in the name of good hard work. I never have a dull moment here as I have a magical, never ending to-do list.
DASH & CAI
Look, all I’m saying is this yard is like an appetizer platter. We make a really good farm dogs, nibbling up all of the chicken poo. Compost rolling is a close second on our list of favorite things to do.