For 46 years, Marcia and Casey Janowski have been running the show at Casey’s Orchard in Plover. This six-and-a-half acre plot holds over 26 varieties of apples, all of which Casey Janowski, now in his 70’s, can tell apart.
“The shape, color, size, it’s all different,” Casey Janowski said.
“Casey can even tell the apple plants apart in the winter,” Marcia said.
“I don’t mind the cold. It puts people in the mood to buy apples, it’s baking season,” Casey said.
In addition to growing apples, Casey’s Orchard collaborates on a local and state level. Other local options include squash, pumpkins, cider, zucchini, honey from Amherst and jam from the Eau Claire area.
Their children help out occasionally, but it is mostly up to the Janowskis to plant, maintain, harvest, and sell everything on the farm. Casey Janowski is no stranger to hard work. He spent a number of years working full-time at a body shop, and later Sentry, while keeping up the orchard.
Casey included his thoughts about the changing economy.
“Back then we used to do wholesale,” Casey said. “Now there’s Walmart, Copps. It’s all corporate run.”
Casey is optimistic about sales and, despite the changing economic landscape, they are still having success.
“It’s good stuff, so they come back for more,” Casey said.
A key facet of the orchard was how it collaborates with other farms. The Stevens Point co-op was no different.
The co-op is a member-owned, community-based, and environmentally friendly place to buy food and products while keeping in mind the entire supply chain. The Stevens Point co-op was founded 42 years ago and is solar powered. They also partner in-store with Earthcrust Bakery, another organically inclined business from the area.
“Our key word is cooperation. We try to work with local farmers” said Jenny Bellmer, the promotions director at the co-op.
“It’s important that we are treating farmers decently with wages and their rights,” Bellmer said. “We care about how their employees are treated.”
Bellmer started as a cashier and loved the way the co-op operated, so she continued the trend. The co-op now offers a number of interesting promotions, including ‘take a bag- leave a bag.’ If a shopping bag is forgotten, rather than wasting a plastic one, a complimentary bag can be taken off of the wall. Generally, the bag makes its way back on that person’s next shopping trip.
A trip to Casey’s Orchard and the co-op only scratches the surface of local farming and sustainability initiatives in the Stevens Point area. The Farmshed Atlas of Central Wisconsin lists over 100 businesses that have taken a pledge that ensures those businesses are family or cooperatively owned, use zero or reduced pesticides, treat animals with care and respect, sell Wisconsin products, and provide safe and fair working conditions.