We tend to go from task to task, checking things off a list, doing what we have to do, hustling here and there day in and day out. We stop taking notice of new and interesting things and even neglect to enjoy our surroundings. We forget to explore and get stuck in a rut always taking the same routes and never wavering from our paths. If this sounds familiar then it’s time to break free from the shackles of your set ways and have an adventure or two or three.
While there is plenty of excitement in the city, sometimes it’s nice to head out of town and into the country. As the saying goes, getting there is half the fun. And that is certainly the case when it comes to the drives out from the Twin Cities to these three pizza farms.
What is a pizza farm, you ask? It’s a working farm that on a certain day of the week makes pizza in a wood-fired oven using ingredients grown on the farm. It’s a novel idea and it makes for a lovely afternoon or evening for city folk and country folk alike. This idea seems to be catching on because I found not one, but three different pizza farms scattered about the countryside.
Our family had loads of fun exploring new areas and having pizza picnics surrounded by nature. These farms will be serving up hot, delicious pizza for several more weeks, but if you don’t make it there before winter creeps in, make sure to make it a priority next spring or summer.
Here’s what you need to know no matter which one you choose to try: remember to bring everything you will need to make your experience pleasant. At the farms you will get a pizza in a box; that’s it. We brought a blanket, chairs, drinks, plates, cups, flatware, napkins, a salad, a dessert, hand sanitizer, pizza cutter and bag to take away the garbage. We wanted for nothing and were quite comfortable at each picnic site. At Red Barn Farm you are permitted to put your pizza box in the fire pit to be burned and must take away the rest, but the other two locations require you to take away all refuse.
Each farm definitely has its own personality. Try them all or pick the one that appeals to you the most:
A to Z Produce and Bakery
N2956 Anker Ln
Stockholm, Wis. 54769
Tuesdays, March – November 4:30 p.m. – 8:-00 p.m.
Cost: $24 – $28
The drive out to A to Z is amazing. You’ll pass by thick woods, deep valleys, rolling hills, rows and rows of corn, farmsteads, the mighty Mississippi River, the sparkly Lake Pepin and tiny, quaint villages. A to Z is the granddaddy of the pizza farms and runs like a well-oiled machine.
At this farm they grind the grain they have grown to make the flour for the pizza dough, they grow the vegetables and produce and process the meats they use on the pizzas. A pizza will run you between $24 and $28, but it’s big and toothsome and packed with toppings. Our pizza of choice here had thick slices of red, orange and green tomatoes and topped with cheese and fresh basil. After you order your pizza pick your favorite spot to dine and set up. The surroundings are well-kept and beautiful with barns, greenhouses and fields as a backdrop to your dinner. The atmosphere is low-key and quite enjoyable. There are two bathrooms here; one modern and one rustic.
Love Tree Farmstead Cheese
Pizza by the Pond
12413 County Rd.
Z. Grantsburg, WI 54840
May – October, Sundays 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Cost: $22 and up
Love Tree was by far the most “farm” experience of the three. Lovetree is a cheese-making farm with goats, sheep, cows, chickens and lots of sweet, working dogs. You can walk around the barns and see the farmer milking the animals, pet the animals and even bottle-feed the calves and kids, if you’re there at the right time.
The pizza is made in a makeshift grotto that is being constructed with walls of old tires. In the grotto are a few tables and chairs for those who wish to dine there. The cheeses made on the farm are used on the pizzas and you can get a cheese plate for tasting, which makes for a great start to your meal. The veggies and herbs are also from the farm; and the crust is made from long fermented organic cave-aged pizza dough, making it quite sturdy, nutty and eventually charred from the wood-fired oven.
Our pizza of choice was topped with turkey apple brats, caramelized onions, fresh basil and their briny, flavorful cave-aged cheese.
The space to eat is much smaller than the other two farms, but it seems to be a smaller operation and there was room for all there with seating in small glade overlooking a pond. There is a rustic bathroom with outdoor sink at this farm. This, too, is a beautiful drive from the Twin Cities. You can find their cheeses at the Kingfield Farmer’s Market in Minneapolis, the St. Paul Farmer’s Market, Corner Table, and. W.A. Frost.
Red Barn Farm of Northfield
Pizza on the Farm
10063 110th St E,
May – November, Sundays Noon – 4:00 p.m. & Wednesdays, 4:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Red Barn Farm is in its second season of making pizza. This pizza was actually my favorite. Our pizza of choice was the Northfielder with Italian sausage, onions, peppers and cheese. We went on a Sunday afternoon, the weather was mild, the other picnickers conversations were hushed, chickens quietly pecked at the ground and there was a lazy Sunday afternoon feel to it. At this farm, all the pizzas cost $20, no matter the topping. Again, the pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven and made with the veggies from their farm and the meat from a producer down the road. The proprietress told me that Sundays are relaxed and quiet and Wednesdays are busier and more communal and often there is live music to compliment the backyard party feel. There is a porta-potty at this farm. If you have time after the pizza picnic, there are several shops with ice cream just a few miles away in Northfield. And a stroll around this picturesque little town is just the way to end a lovely day in the country.
If you’re looking for a pie closer to home, check out the Guide to the Best Pizza near University of Minnesota.
Anna Berend is an attorney and the author of Motherly Law Blog. On Motherly Law, Anna writes about legal issues that affect families and offers tips and resources that pertain to those legal topics. On occasion, inspiration strikes and Anna writes about something totally unrelated to the law. You can find Anna at www.motherlylaw.com, on Facebook at Motherly Law and on Twitter @MotherlyLaw.