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The farming of pizza

September 3rd, 2009

The drive south from St. Paul along the Mississippi River is one of beauty.  Giant river bluffs overlook the wide expanse of water that is Lake Pepin.  Quiet towns cling to the cliffs; bald eagles soar overhead.  If you follow the river for a few hours, take a left at The Pie Company, and head into the unpaved back roads of Wisconsin, you will eventually come across a most unusual place: a pizza farm.  The pizza farm.

There, an eccentric horticulturalist has joined the growing ranks of amateur genetic engineers to create some most amazing plants.  Tomatoes filled with sauce-like jelly and a slight hint of garlic.  Mozzarella grown molecule by molecule from heavily modified Aspergillus niger molds and a secret bacteria with an affinity for producing casein.  A special yeast unique to the area that imparts incredible flavor into the crust.  It still takes a human hand to combine the ingredients, and there is no magic fire bush to cook the pies, but it’s as close as you can come to growing pizzas on trees.

Ok, not really.  The Pizza Farm, actually A-Z Produce & Bakery, is a farm a few miles northwest of Pepin, Wisconsin.  Every Tuesday night, every week of the year, they sell pizzas on the farm.  Every Tuesday night, droves of people show up on this dusty road in the middle of nowhere to buy said pizzas.  Why make the two-hour journey from Minneapolis for a stupid pizza?

In short, the pizzas are amazing.  Flavorful, fresh, creative, cooked on-site in two giant brick wood-fired ovens.  The Pizza Farm does one thing, and one thing only: pizzas.  There is just one size of pie, and there is none of this by-the-slice tomfoolery.  No drinks either, nor plates or even tables.  Just pizzas, taken directly from the oven and served in delivery-style cardboard boxes.  The crowds that turn out bring their lawn chairs, folding tables, and blankets and spread out on the grass for a pizza picnic.  Many bring wine, and some make a stop at the aforementioned Pie Company for a fitting dessert.

The amazing atmosphere and excellent flavor of the pizzas might be enough on their own, but the unbelievable part of the operation is the source of the ingredients: almost everything in the pizza comes from the farm.  That farm.  As in, the one that surrounds you as you’re sitting on the grass munching on a slice.  Vegetables for toppings?  Grown there.  Wheat for the crust?  Grown there.  Milk for the cheese?  Milked there.  Meat for the sausage?  It had been walking around the land oinking not long before.  You can even complete the cycle, if you’re so inclined, by making a “deposit” in the “bran can,” the contents of which are then used to fertilize the non-food crops.

I visited the pizza farm with a group of friends last Tuesday, and I can’t recommend the experience enough.

On the web: A-Z Produce and Bakery, a.k.a. The Pizza Farm.

  1. September 3rd, 2009 at 15:04 | #1

    That sounds amazing. I almost want to drive there from Huntsville.

  2. September 6th, 2009 at 00:11 | #2

    I hope you had a slice for me!

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