The Gitto Farm n Kitchen is a somewhat unique business in that is completely run by the Gitto Family. Greg & Carol have been blessed to be able to work together with their children in their family businesses.
Greg worked in the construction industry as an electrician for over 20 years, always having this desire to farm. (For whatever reason, who knows?) So in 2000, we did just that. Said goodbye to the electrical job (and steady paycheck) and went to work on a dairy farm, having no farming background or experience, only the desire. After getting some dairy experience, we rented a barn & bought our own cows. With the help of ambitious children, Greg was able to work on a very well-run certified organic vegetable farm 2 days a week in 2002, to get vegetable production experience. We had always raised our own vegetables for our family, but growing on a larger scale is as different as night and day.
Since then, we've moved several times: from the Black River Falls area, to the Richland Center area, & then to our present farm between Lake Mills & Watertown. Each opportunity brought more experience for all of us. When we moved to our present farm in 2006, our oldest son Tom was a partner in the dairy farm. He has since gotten married, sold his cows & has a job at a nearby implement dealer as an ag technician. He still farms some land with us. Our next oldest son Steve has also gotten married & moved off the farm. Both are still here quite a bit to help out, as the seasons or other demands dictate.
Our Present Time Line
2013 (Which is now part of our past)
So we are working here with the eight children that are still with us (Tony, Joe, Laura, Katie, Tim, Rachel, Jim Bob, and Ben). Our children are home-schooled, and are also learning that it takes a lot of work to produce food, especially good food that is free from chemicals. The most important crop we raise is our children, and each one has a specific responsibility in addition to working together when the entire family is needed. We raise about 6 acres of certified organic vegetables, which are available at several farmers markets. Our variety is not as large as some other growers. We especially concentrate on our greens, specifically our spring mix, "spicy" mix & arugula. We still milk cows, about 60 of the little brown ones called Jerseys. Our dairy & vegetable operations are both certified organic. We are strongly committed to sustainable farming practices to improve our soil through composting, cover cropping, and crop rotation. We are all learning together how to feed our soil in order to feed ourselves (and others) the most nutritious and delicious produce and animal products possible.
In addition to the certified vegetables, we raise our steers for grass-fed beef. We do have (a limited supply of) raw honey from the bee hives, also used for pollination. And we are able to supply a limited amount of winter greens from our hoophouse.
In 2011 we were able to lease a licensed kitchen in Lake Mills and started making tortillas to add to our table at the farmers market. The simple ingredient list, great flavor & ability to pack a lunch in them without breaking open seemed to be well received at the farmers markets. They also worked their way into several stores in the Madison & Milwaukee area. With this access to a licensed kitchen, we now also have the option of using our produce to make processed products, such as our arugula pesto.
Except for an unusual circumstance, during the summer market season you could find Carol and daughter Rachel at the DCFM, Tom's wife Shannon and Jo "Gramma" Gitto (Greg's mother) at the Waukesha farmers market, Daughter Katie at the Oconomowoc farmers market and Katie's twin sister Laura at the Westside Community Market in Madison. Saturday mornings get pretty lean on the farm.
Many changes have happened in just 4 simple years. Actually, most in the last year or 2. Our son Tim got married in the spring of 2015. He & his wife Becca currently live in Watertown. He is our 1st married child that is an employee of the farm. He is very much needed. In February of 2017 our youngest daughter Rachel got married. She lives with her husband Channing in the Osseo WI area, a good 2 1/2 hours away. She is our 1st married child that isn't in the area & here on a regular basis.
Our business circumstances have also changed. For the 1st time in about 16 years we will only be growing vegetables for our personal use. The last year or 2 it was getting to be too much. Our dairy herd has grown & we also want to put more emphasis on the tortillas. We will not be attending 4 farmers markets every Saturday as well. We may be on the square in Madison occasionally.
Our tortillas have taken on a couple new changes. We are now using coconut oil in the place of sunflower oil. There seems to be health benefits to coconut oil. Also, our tortillas & our proccessing facility are USDA Certified Organic. We did not change any ingredients to become certified.
Farmers always seem to have ideas to improve their products. The saying, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" certainly does not apply to our products. We are always looking for ways to make our products better, or to try a product that our customers may enjoy. So one of our plans was to build a licensed kitchen right here on our farm. And we started doing that in one of the coldest winters on record. We started in January 2014, & worked on it until we had to get in the field in April. Then started again in the fall & moved into it in April of 2015. As usual, it's not big enough, but it is great being at home. We actually have it closed in that we don't have to go into the weather at all to get there from our house.
The hoophouse that we put up in 2011 has served us well, but it is just too small. We'd like to double the size (currently 30x120). As of now, we would like to continue to grow a few things for the 2 winter farmers markets.
One of our biggest requests is gluten free torillas. We have not experienced a recipe that is awesome. If we can't find something that is awesome, & it's just mediocre, who would want to buy it? I wouldn't. We thought corn tortillas could be our gluten free. But the equipment is different & so is the learning curve.
We are committed to providing the highest quality product to you, our customer. This means that if you are not completely satisfied with your tortillas or grass fed ground beef, please let us know and we will make every effort to make sure you are 100% satisfied.
We truly appreciate your support of our family business. Without it, the small family farm cannot exist, which is why the movement in farming at almost any level is to get big or get out. It is hard work in every kind of weather, but it's really not called "work" if you enjoy it. The work is great, but the added value of working together with your children, teaching and learning as you grow, is such an added blessing that we would not be able to enjoy without you, our customer. Thank you so much!