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Stoney Acres Farm gives a whole new meaning to farm-to-table

Tony Schultz is the third-generation owner of the Marathon County farm

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April 1, 2024

ATHENS – In Marathon County, near Athens, sits a very unique family farm – but it wasn’t always that way.

Tony Schultz, owner of this third-generation family farm, has re-invented the farm that his grandfather started and his own father previously owned.

Though the family farm’s history includes dairy cows, Tony said he doesn’t have enough patience to do all the chores required by animals, and instead pivoted the farm’s focus to produce – which in turn, he said, saved the farm.

A look back

His grandfather, Ed Schultz, Sr. was the youngest of 17 children, but the only one born in the United States.

His siblings were all born in Germany, from where his family emigrated – coming through Ellis Island as all immigrants did back in the day – and purchasing land near Athens in North Central Wisconsin.

As an adult, Tony said his grandfather tried establishing a farm around the time of the Great Depression, but that was unsuccessful. 

In approximately 1948, he tried again, this time starting another farm down the road.

“He was as much a lumberjack as he was a farmer, but he had seven daughters to milk cows with him,” Tony said. “He had 30 or 40 dairy cows.”

This time, Tony said his grandfather’s efforts to be a dairy farmer were successful, and he and his wife, Dorothy, ran Stoney Acres Farm until 1976.

At that time, Tony’s father, Ed Schultz, Jr., and his mother Doreen, purchased the farm and ran a 50-cow dairy for many years.

“I grew up washing cows, milking cows, feeding calves, chopping and baling hay, pushing a feed cart and doing the work of a farm kid,” Tony said.

However, throughout the late ’70s and ’80s, Tony said the dairy industry was undergoing rapid consolidation and realignment.

“With the dawn of all the industrial changes that happened post-World War II – like the interstate highway system and the changing technological regime to move the larger and larger tractors that covered larger tracts of land; and going from hand-milking to milking machines to pipelines to milking parlors to robotic milkers – our farm, being a small family farm, felt the pressure of that.”

As a result, in 1998 his parents made the difficult decision to sell the cows, something Tony himself said he couldn’t wrap his head around.

“I was a senior in high school and couldn’t quite understand that decision because we were still working hard and getting up early every day to do chores,” he said. “That (decision) left a mark on me. I loved the farm and (eventually) wanted to come back to the farm in some way.”

Tony eventually headed to Menomonie where he attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout to play basketball before transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, because he said he desired to be a part of everything that campus had to offer.

What he found, he said, was many life-altering things on campus.

Tony said he  met people who would give him ideas with which he could go back to the farm and re-invent it to keep up with a changing society.

Tony said much of his time was spent hanging out in the agriculture lab on campus, as well as a lot of time with rural sociologists.

He said he also saw the change and rise in the local food movement with the Madison Farmers Market, and the rise of community-supported agriculture.

“I always had in my mind that I would come home to Athens in some way,” he said. “So (after graduation) I came home… bought the farm in 2006 from my parents. We got into the Wausau Farmers Market and worked that summer of 2006 to establish our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. And we started the three-year process to become a certified organic farm, something we’ve been since 2009.” 

CSA program helps support farms

Learning from those rural sociologists and people in the Ag lab, and by doing lots of research, Tony said he realized that establishing CSA was one way to help support their farm.

CSAs, he said, are unique social and economic arrangements between local households and farmers who work together to share the responsibility of producing and delivering fresh food. Households support the farm by paying an annual fee that entitles them to a “share” of the season’s harvest.

Once harvesting begins, Tony said members can pick up their share of fresh foods right at the farm.

In many cases around the country, he said, that includes produce, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, eggs, meats, poultry, flowers, herbs and/or preserves.

Some farms, Tony said, also deliver the shares directly to shareholder households, or at designated spots in the community.

In the case of Stoney Acres, Tony said he sold 72 shares in 2007 – their first year of selling shares – mainly in the Wausau area.

In 2008, they doubled that amount to 144 shares.

Over the years, Tony said he has sold as many as 240 shares, but this year it will be more like 100, possibly 150. 

Tony said Stoney Acres Farm shareholders get a box of fresh, seasonal organic produce delivered to their neighborhood, a monthly newsletter and invitations to a couple of annual farm events.

Selling shares in the farm, he said, used to be the majority of the farm’s income – that was until 2012, when he established “Pizza on the Farm.”  

Produce + pizza + beer

Tony said the idea of Pizza on the Farm was started after he became friends with Ted Fisher and Robbi Bannen of A to Z Produce & Bakery in Stockholm.

“(We) saw their pizza farm,” he said. “It was the first pizza farm in the country, and we brought that (concept) back to our farm after building an oven to make pizzas.”

Pizza on the Farm nights at Stoney Acres, Tony said, are unique, laid back and fun.

Guests can explore the organic farm, spend time outside on the lawn or inside the farm’s covered beer hall – which was built in 2018 and can seat as many as 150 people – sharing food and drink with friends new and old.

All pizzas, he said, are made from everything grown on the farm, except for the olive oil used for the dough, roasting vegetables and cheese.

The pizzas are baked in one of three stone ovens on-site at Stoney Acres, which were built using stones from the farm.

Pizza on the Farm – which takes place at the farm located at 245728 Baldwin Creek Road in Athens – is already underway for the season and will continue every Friday and Saturday night from 4-8:30 p.m. through Nov. 9.

Tony said he doesn’t count people to determine attendance, but rather measures success by how many pizzas he made on any given night or weekend – which has been as many as 700 pizzas during a weekend.

“But on average, on a good night, where it’s a beautiful summer night at around 70 degrees, we make about 300 pizzas,” he said. “Or, if it’s raining and 40 degrees like, in the beginning of April, I might sell 50 or 60 pizzas a night or 150 pizzas during the weekend.”

Tony said pizzas can be eaten at the farm or taken to go.

And what goes better with pizza than beer, right?

So, in 2018, Tony launched Stoney Acres Brewery, which offers several kinds of craft beer using organic hops, wheat and barley grown on the farm.

“Six or seven years ago we established a brewery to go with Pizza on the Farm,” he said. “My good friend, Josh, is the brewer and he manages the brewery. We sell all of the beer on-site at Pizza Night. We usually have eight or nine different beers that we brew, as well as cider, which we produce ourselves. We have a winery license to do that.”

The on-site, three-barrel brewery, Tony said, produces small batches of beer with an emphasis on organic and local ingredients. 

Year-round offerings

In addition to farm-to-table pizzas and organic, micro-brewed beer, Tony said Stoney Acres also has a farmers’ market stand set up every week with what the farm is producing.

“We have a frozen food freezer with all of my custom pork and beef available every week,” he said, adding that he makes seven or eight varieties of frozen pizzas that are in the freezer and for sale.

Taking things one step further, in 2012, Tony said he helped establish the Wausau Winter Farmers Market, which is sort of based on the Madison Winter Farmers Market.

“It features a weekly brunch with things made from the market,” he said. “(Now) we have a farmers’ market year-round in Wausau.”

Today, he said, the farm grows more than 80 types and 200 varieties of certified organic vegetables, fruits and herbs – which includes 50,000-60,000 onions each year and seven, 300-foot beds of garlic.

“We have a highly diversified family farm with wheat and flour production; grass fed beef, pastured pork; frozen pizzas, small grains; and farm-to-table pizzas April-November,” he said. “We also have 2,400 maple trees – my dad is mostly in charge of that.”

Tony said his three kids – Riley, Ted and Maple – help on the farm, washing eggs, planting onions, picking cherry tomatoes and other odd jobs around the farm.

“Since I’ve been focusing on ‘Pizza on the Farm’ the last seven years, I have shrunk the size of the CSA, but it’s still the backbone of the farm and still provides a lot of identity to what I do,” he said. “And it’s still a great way to have relationships with people in my community who eat and people who want to be a part of the farm.”  

Even more ahead

Always excited to try something new, Tony said this year he will start offering side items. 

“I’m going to try setting up a system where I can offer pickled vegetables, side salads and roasted vegetables from the farm that change weekly with whatever’s in season,” he said. “That’s my hope. But I also need to build that in, because I’ve been exclusively a pizzeria, when it comes to being a restaurant. So, I need to establish an efficient system in case 600 people show up – I have to be able to feed them quickly. Over the course of 12 years of doing this, I’m ready to feed an army but I have to get my crew up and ready for this. So, it might take a bit, but that’s my hope for this coming season.”      

Tony said Stoney Acres also has a very robust music calendar, where live music is provided during Pizza Nights – which starts May 16 this year with Horseshoes and Grenades.

Live music, he said, is held almost every Friday and Saturday night until the end of September. The bands are mostly from around Wisconsin, but some are from Minneapolis, as well. 

For more information on Stoney Acres Farm, its CSA, Stoney Acres Brewery or Pizza on the Farm, visit

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