Purchased in 1946 by Carl and Garnet Pagel, the Pagel family farm started with 80 acres, a few cows, chickens, and hogs.
As the young couple’s family grew, so did the dairy farm. Interested in taking over the family business one day, John, the youngest of Carl & Garnet’s seven children, attended UW-Madison’s Farm Short Course Program. After Carl’s retirement in the early 1980’s, John purchased the farm from his father, focusing on innovation and technology.
Sadly, in 2018, John Pagel and his son-in-law Steve Witcpalek lost their lives in a plane crash. The family carried on his legacy and the farm is now owned by third generation Pagels, Jamie (Pagel) Witcpalek, J.J. Pagel, and Bryan Pagel, and operated alongside the farm’s 200+ employees.
Today, Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy, LLC and Dairy Dreams have over 8,500 milking cows and farm 9,000 acres of cropland. With the farm, they have a facility that creates renewable natural gas, generated by cow manure, which allows them to create energy that is usable across the farm. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to yearly removing 9,200 vehicles from the road.
With the electricity generated from the digester, Pagel’s Ponderosa can almost power the entire neighboring city of Kewaunee, which has a population of 3,000 people. This system helps manage waste products, reduces odor, and eliminates pathogens to improve the overall air quality.
“Pagel’s Ponderosa has a deep-rooted dedication to sustainability,” said Jamie Pagel Witcpalek. “We strive to ensure that the care we take with our farming practices reflects the commitment we have to the environment, our employees, our animals, and our community. It’s all part of meeting the needs of today while securing the future for generations to come.”
GreenStone is proud to have a close relationship with the Wisconsin farm.
“Right at the top of the Pagel family’s decision-making drivers are the environment and animal wellbeing,” said Dan Kaufman, VP of commercial lending at GreenStone. “It’s great supporting a business that’s so dedicated to promoting sustainable practices.”
Onsite, they also have a farmstead cheese production plant, which means the cheese is made on the farm with milk from their own cows. This practice allows for total quality control and traceability.
To add to it all, Pagel’s Ponderosa also has a mission to educate the community about what day-to-day life is like on a modern, progressive dairy farm. As a result, they host thousands of visitors each year for public tours and school field trips.