Everyone loves a good burger. Together Farms, located in Mondovi, raises 100% grassfed beef, 100% grassfed lamb, and pastured pork, and they understand burgers. In 2017, they hosted a few trial runs of Burger Night to determine if it was a good idea and if they should continue the event going forward. So we caught up with Stephanie Schneider, owner, to see how it went and what we could expect this year. “I was blown away at all the compliments we received for the food, especially because I assumed that our lack of kitchen equipment was going to hurt us. But I guess when you start with amazing meat, you just need to get out of the way and let it shine. Truly though, I wouldn’t have believed these people (since the host is usually the last one to find out if something is terrible, you know, the Minnesota-nice thing), but these guests came back! And not only did some come back many times (mind you, we were only open 6 weekends), but they brought friends. And then they asked about hosting private events here, so I started believing them. Then, some other, semi-miraculous things happened: first, we won a local award for best pop-up restaurant; and then we caught the attention of an Emmy-winning PBS show, Wisconsin Foodie, and they loved this concept so much that they came out from Milwaukee to do an episode about us!” (Available on their website.)
“We are just a little farm that knows nothing about restaurants, but what we do know is how food should be raised. Once you get animals out of a factory and into an environment where cows can be cows, pigs can be pigs, and everyone can just kind of be themselves while eating all the wild delicious nutrient-dense things that grow here (hazelnuts!), then you have the beginnings of something that can be truly enjoyed and appreciated.”
Stephanie also wants people to immerse themselves in the farm. She provides maps for self-guided tours and trails for people to explore. She and her husband, Andy, are on-site to answer questions, but informational signs are posted, too. Stephanie also shared her secret with us: “I mostly want kids to have fun. We stopped going out to eat at restaurants with our kids because if they were behaving, they weren’t having any fun, and if they were not behaving, well, then, nobody else was having a good time. So even though there were no dishes to wash, we didn’t think it was a very good use of time or money. But here, kids can run and play and be loud and no one is going to give you a dirty look. My motto: if the kids are having a good time, well, so are mom and dad…This is also when I mention live music, beer and wine. So that’s my big secret plan…happy kids! I should point out, too, that while I give you plenty of opportunities to do things and learn, you also have the option to just sit and do nothing except unwind. Most cell phones don’t work here either, which is quite freeing actually.”
A brand new commercial kitchen is here for 2018, as well as the farm’s very own chef! This means there is a new menu, but Steph says not to worry because the best-selling Good Fat burger isn’t going anywhere. Gluten-free options (including a gluten-free fryer) and vegetarian choices will also be available. They are adding a few new games (carpetball, gaga pit, kubb, horseshoes, bean bags), expanding their trail system, and building a wagon for tours. “I know some people were sad they didn’t get to see the cows last year because they were on land that’s not easily accessible (#driftlessproblems), so we are hoping to get a wagon going so we can do a better job of showing people around.”
“Our goal with all of this is to connect people with their food. So few people have a farm in their family anymore and they’ve lost that connection, so I am trying to re-create that….one burger at a time.”
In addition to Burger Night, which will run weekly from May through September, there will be a few Wine Nights and a weekly Sunday brunch (with rumors of lard-fried donuts potentially being on the menu). If all goes well, then they have plans to construct a new building to better facilitate events on the farm.
To learn about their growing practices, events, menus, calendar of live music acts or weekly food specials, or if you’ve already made the smart decision to check it out and you just need directions, go to www.TogetherFarms.com.