Farmers Tommy Stauffer and Shawn Kuhn, both 28, started their successful microgreens and produce farm while both still students at UW Madison. Neither majored in anything having to do with farming. They had no growing experience, no idea what they were doing, just the desire to live a passionate, fulfilled life doing meaningful work.
“We started throwing seed in the ground with no idea what would happen,” Stauffer reaclls. “Our lettuce mix came up well.”
Their lettuce mix grew. Madison Market bought it for their salad bar. That first winter, they researched everything they could on growing the perfect salad mix. They bent pipe to build their own greenhouses to save money. And in the spring, they intentionally launched their business.
Vitruvian Farms is named after Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man drawing and the principles behind it: proportionality, beauty and balance.
“Our goal was to create a beautiful farm in balance with nature,” Stauffer said.
(And it is beautiful. Check out the field quilts in the photos above.)
Today, Vitruvian grows fve acres of produce, pastures pigs and chickens on two additional acres. and employs eight full-time workers. They sell wholesale to more than 45 Madison restaurants, and market directly to the public via a CSA and the Monona Farmers’ Market. They’re inspired by the growing momentum of Madison’s local food movement.
Vitruvian Farms farm will be a stop on this year’s Bike the Barns scheduled for Sept. 17.
Your family food dollars are Little Green Soldiers for Good. Spend them directly with your local farmers via CSA or at the Madison farmers’ markets. Check out the Wisconsin Farm Fresh Atlas for restaurants featuring local food, farm listings, and farmers’ market info across Wisconsin, or Local Harvest for listings nationwide.
5 Minutes on the Farm won a 2016 Excellence in Journalism award from the Milwaukee Press Club.
Photographs by Julie Garrett. Banjo by Cathryn Herlihey. Logo by Katie Hess.