Flyte Family Farms, Coloma, a vegetable farm, will host this year’s June Dairy Breakfast on Sunday June 26
This year, the Waushara County June Dairy Breakfast will be held at the Adam and Carrie Flyte Family Farm located just outside of Coloma at W13450 Cottonville Ave. Attendees will be delighted this year – in addition to the delicious breakfast served by the Dairy Breakfast Committee and volunteers, there will be tours of the Flyte family farms.
This year’s breakfast, served from 7:30 a.m. to noon, will include pancakes, real maple syrup, honey, hash browns, ham, cheese, milk, cranberry juice, coffee , ice cream and strawberries. There will also be live music, a chance to meet the Flyte family, door prizes, guided tours and games. You are also encouraged to dress your kid in their cutest farmer clothes and enter the little farmer dress up contest. The contest will take place around 11 a.m. is open to children six and under and prizes will be awarded.
Flyte Farm focuses on vegetable/fruit growing and hydroponic greenhouses, as well as field corn, seed corn, soybeans and alfalfa. They don’t do dairy, but they contribute so much to the food industry in the fresh fruit and vegetable line. Carrie says their farm is literally a cornucopia. On their 4,100 acres, their crops also include sweet corn, cabbage, peas, green beans and 800 acres of potatoes of which 150 acres are organic. In their four greenhouses, they grow hydroponic tomatoes (cherry, grape and beefsteak), English cucumbers and peppers. They also have 16 acres of strawberries and 10 acres of blueberries which have become favorites with residents and visitors. You can choose yours or they will choose them for you.
Thirteen years ago, the Flytes entered into a 500-acre sharecropping agreement with Adam’s grandfather, Duane Lipke, following his foresight and desire to farm his land organically. The land had been intentionally left fallow for over three years, allowing them to use the acreage to grow organic peas, green beans, sweet corn, cabbage, seed corn, alfalfa, beans and other cereals. Today, they farm nearly 1,050 acres of organic land.
Adam and Carrie sell about half of their produce to local grocery stores and restaurants, with the other half sold at farmers’ markets including Madison, Portage, Baraboo and Plover. Adam grew up selling produce at roadside stands for his parents, Lee and Cheryl Flyte. Today, he and Carrie run three of the Flyte family’s 13 stalls.
Adam monitors soil fertility on all owned and leased farmland. He also writes the fertility programs for all their crops. He manages the entire operation, overseeing day-to-day chores, helping out in the store, leading by example, keeping the books and marketing their crops. Carrie says Adam’s passion is watching crops grow, especially potatoes. One of the features this year will be a state-of-the-art potato storage building. Carrie said she loves farming and being with her family. “There’s no better way to raise a family, we work together and we play together,” she said.
In addition to crops, Flyte also owns 620 head of Holstein steers and a small herd of beef cattle. This operation could only be done as a family, Adam and Carrie have 42 on the payroll in peak season and they also hire and house 69 people from April to October under the government H2A scheme.
The couple married in 1999 and have three children, Mikayla, 20, Tristan, 19 and Taylor, 17. All three children work on the farm and have expressed interest in continuing the farm’s legacy. Everyone plans to pursue some aspect of agriculture while continuing their education.
Adam’s brother, JR Flyte, has managed the original farmland of the Flyte family farm since 2010. His efforts are encouraged by his wife Kristen and their children: Henry, 14, Charlie, 11, and Lola, 8. sold at FFF vegetable stands throughout Central Wisconsin including: Wisconsin Rapids, Wild Rose, Westfield, Montello, Adams Friendship, Plainfield, Necedah, Mauston, Berlin and, of course, Coloma.
JR graduated from MATC with a diploma in welding. Kristen is a registered nurse who recently joined the family farming business full time. Today, they grow 35 acres of market-fresh vegetables including: watermelon, muskmelon, green beans, onions, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beets, carrots and zucchini, pumpkins, and a variety of winter squash.
These labor-intensive crops are watered and nurtured using drip irrigation, although overhead pivot systems are available. JR is convinced that he grows more efficiently with less disease by using this approach to multiply market-fresh vegetables. They also grow 80 acres of hand-harvested sweet corn for retail and wholesale buyers. Stewardship of the land is important to JR and Kristen.
Cover crops (mainly rye) are planted in the fall and left until spring. Strips are then plowed between the rows to prevent wind erosion. Extra efforts are made to save time and money by bandaging dry fertilizers. They also grow their early sweet corn under plastic to conserve energy and harvest earlier in the season. This plastic is biodegradable and breaks down within 6 months of planting. The row covers they use are another innovative way to conserve energy. Although this is very time consuming, it again gives an earlier harvest and avoids the delicate transplants of Mother Nature’s unexpected curve balls.
JR’s welding background has allowed him to make many of his own farm implements, including a plastic mulch bed, a row cover rewind system, waterwheel planter upgrades, and more.
Lee and Cheryl Flyte and Jessica (Flyte) and Matt Rettler, and their daughters, Karissa, 17, Makenna, 15, Addyson, 13, and Elliana, 11, also play crucial roles in the success of Flyte Family Farm. While operating under different umbrellas, the Flytes all share the same goals: stewardship of the land, taste of the land, quality of the land, pride of the land, and feeding America – one family at a time – all time !
Plan now to attend the Waushara County Dairy Breakfast on Sunday, June 26 at W13450 Cottonville Ave., Coloma, meet the Flyte family and enjoy a tour of farmland, planted with crops to help feed the county of Waushara and beyond.