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Sit Down to Eat and the Philosophy behind Farm-to-Table

Back in the day, if you will, when Grandma was at the helm of the farmhouse kitchen, you would be instructed to "Sit down and eat." Did you get to choose what would be served on her everyday china? No. You just sat down and enjoyed a home-cooked meal with family. At the Farmhouse World Kitchen in Plum City we offer "Farm Lunch," and sometimes I am tempted to leave out any description of the day's meal. There is just something about too many choices in life...

In April, before we closed on the property at 401 Main Street in Plum City, I began to plan and build my restaurant's concept. There were a few things that were no-brainers for me.

  1. My price point needed to match what folks around here consider a fair price for a meal.

  2. I wanted the space to feel clean and fresh.

  3. I wanted the food to be made from scratch - never deep fried, breaded or pre-packaged.

  4. I wanted to reflect the bounty of the farm on the plate (you get big portions!).

  5. I wanted as much of my food as possible to be locally sourced from our farm and nearby neighbors.

  6. I wanted to keep the menu narrow because I believe too many choices in life are actually frustrating and not healthy for most of us.

  7. I wanted to bring dishes to Western Wisconsin that interpret our delicious local foods through a worldly culinary lens.

  8. I wanted to celebrate farming and those who work the land.

  9. I wanted to offer beer, wine and other drinks that are local, or unusual or exceptional in some way.

  10. I wanted to offer a healthy option for dining out.

My farm-to table concept extends beyond the food. I hope that through the menu and space you are able to conjure an image of farming around the world. I serve wine in practical glasses, remind you that vegetables are not only nutritious but beautiful and delicious, and as I deliver food, I might tell you about a farmer I met on my travels. There are lots of little pieces of my life on farms that I have tried to capture and infuse into the big scheme of it all. Of course, looking out the restaurant's wavy glass windows at the Plum City Feed Mill helps jog memories!

Farm-to-table is a really tough concept to pull off. As if working on a farm wasn't enough work, add to that a restaurant! Ideally I'd love to grow everything I serve, but to manage that would be tremendous. Sometimes we have enough of an ingredient to run the menu item through the week, but other times I have run out of something and either source it from another farm, or eh hem, buy it from the supply truck or grocery if I'm in a pinch. We're using as many products from the farm as we can, but will likely need to supplement from time to time. Farming is so unpredictable, so sourcing widely will be necessary to maintain consistency.

Our local food pantry is rich and plentiful, but there are some things we just can't/don't grow around here that I like to use. Coffee and chocolate are the obvious! Having access to limes and lemons is also a high priority for me in the kitchen, although a habit I could break if needed. I use a fair amount of rice - not something we grow here in Wisconsin, and I really wish someone nearby would grow black turtle beans successfully. We tried to grow them organically in the field, but they were smothered with aggressive weeds. I can grow beans successfully on a small scale - especially pole varieties, but haven't figured out how to make a couple of acres work. Any advice?

Our sunflowers are here again (just in time for our anniversary), and I am very anxious to get them harvested and pressed! I have missed having the sunflower oil to share with our store shoppers. I saved just enough that I am able to cook with it in the restaurant, but we won't have oil or vinaigrette dressing until December at the earliest.

Sorry, the sunflower fields are not open to the public this year as they are not particularly accessible by car.

William says WE NEED EGG CARTONS if anyone has them. Drop them in the store in the recycle basket under the counter if you have some to share. Thanks!

Farm-to-table mostly means I'm bringing what I can from the farm to your plate:)

We're still playing with our hours a bit. Next week looks very different from this week. And, I anticipate another change as many of my staff head back into the classroom.

August 15-19 (M-F)

Open for LUNCH ONLY 11:30-2

August 25-27 (Th-Sa)

Thursday Supper ONLY 5-8

Friday Lunch 11:30-2

Friday Supper 5-8

Saturday 11:30-8 ALL DAY

Find us at 401 Main Street, Plum City, WI

Sending love from Fransconsin Farmlandia,


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I heartily endorse all the tenets you've listed for undertaking this farm-table project. I'm not alone, as I'm sure you are learning as diners share our current garden/farm bounty under your care. Just like gardening and farming, running a restaurant can be challenging and unpredictable--as you know. Patience and flexibility (oh--and the ability to make creative use of leftovers/substitutions) are the keys to making this work. Keep that "sassy sauce" handy and put it on everything! Happy Anniversary to you and William!!

Sarah Brenner
Sarah Brenner
Aug 17, 2022
Replying to

Oh, how I relish, cherish, and listen with a bent ear to the wisdom you hold! Thank you for the support and encouragement, Judy!


Aug 17, 2022

Take care of your health, young lady :-) And happy anniversary!

Sarah Brenner
Sarah Brenner
Aug 17, 2022
Replying to

Lu - I just got all gussied up in the mirror and thought, "Dang old at 53, but that 54 year-old is looking good! William will be looking across the table at both of us tonight - the old 53 and young 54.

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