New spins on an old tradition

Jun. 10—APPLETON — Lenny Wronski has been working on his family's farm for as long as he can remember.

He recalls spending his summers on his grandparents' farm with his brother and two sisters, tending to long rows of tomato plants.

"You'd be out there with your hoe, and if the weeds got too big, then you're going out there pulling them weeds," he said. "That was our summer. I can't remember not doing it."

Wronski has now passed on operation of Wronski Family Farm to his two children, Jenna and Dylan. Over the past six years, they have shifted its focus to strictly organic produce.

As vegans, Jenna said, they decided to switch to growing organically to create produce that would be better for their farm, the environment and the community. They have swapped synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for more natural products including chicken manure and, to repel insects, peppermint castile soap.

"We want to keep the environment healthy and the community healthy. That's really important to me," Jenna said.

The Wronskis are currently in the beginning of their growing season, having planted their crops around Memorial Day, and several of them have already began to sprout. Lenny said they expect their tomatoes and lettuce to be among the first crops ready for harvesting next month.

They have also looked to extend their growing season after acquiring and building a high tunnel on the farm. A high tunnel is a greenhouse-like structure that protects plants from extreme weather and gives growers more control over the growth and protection of crops.

The Wronskis acquired the structure through the assistance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The 30-by-96-foot structure was installed in March and is currently housing tomatoes and lettuce. Drip irrigation is the watering method and Lenny said it's just as efficient as other techniques, while saving significantly more water.

Jenna said crops can be grown year-round in a high tunnel and Wronski Family Farm is looking to acquire additional tunnels in the future.

Alongside going all-organic, the Wronskis have worked to raise their farm's profile in the community by supplying produce to several local restaurants.

"I just started thinking about how I saw other farmers selling to local restaurants and I'm like, 'Hey, I can do that.' That's another way to get into the community and make sure (people are) eating local," Jenna said.

Among the seven acres worth of crops grown by the Wronskis, Jenna said onions, cucumbers and zucchini are among the most popular.

There's a roadside stand in front of the farm at 1951 Hosmer Road.