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Farm couple continues family’s gardening traditionFarm couple continues family’s gardening tradition

Through the Garden Gate: David and Anne Rinzel, Lomira, Wis., still enjoy gardening after 37 years.

Fran O'Leary

August 4, 2023

3 Min Read
husband and wife standing in front of house and next to flowerbeds
FLOWER POWER: David and Anne Rinzel of Lomira, Wis., have had a garden on their farm for 37 years, growing fruits, vegetables and flowers. Today, they have two flowerbeds and lots of flowers in pots. PHOTOS BY FRAN O’LEARY

When David and Anne Rinzel were raising three daughters on their 276-acre farm near Lomira in Dodge County, Wis., they had a large garden where they grew about an acre of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Until 2007, they also milked between 65 and 95 cows.

"It was a lot of work, but healthy for myself and my family. In addition, it saved us money,” Anne says. “My children were in the foods and nutrition project in 4-H. They always impressed the judge when telling them the ingredients that were grown on our farm." 

Their daughters — Neela, Tia and Faith — helped with farm chores and gardening while they were growing up.

“We grew tomatoes, onions, asparagus, peppers, green beans, squash, pickles, lettuce, carrots, beets, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, raspberries, radishes, zucchini, peas, rhubarb, strawberries, apples, cilantro and sweet corn,” Anne says. “We froze and canned fruits and vegetables and put up a lot of applesauce. It was a lot of work.”

Picking pickles

One year, the Rinzels decided to grow a quarter-acre of pickles.

“Our daughters got tired of picking pickles, and we got tired of it, too,” Anne says. “It took a lot of time to process 60 gallons of pickles and send even more pickles to the farmers market."

Today, the Rinzels still farm 276 acres and raise a garden, but they have cut back.

“David is 71 years old, and I am 63,” Anne explains.

The cows were sold in 2007. The couple grows soybeans, corn, wheat and sweet corn. Their garden is smaller too, Anne says.

“We grew fewer vegetables last year because David had open heart surgery a year ago,” Anne says. “We still have two apple trees, two pear trees, black raspberries, red raspberries, and we grow green beans, onions, radishes, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, beets, broccoli, garlic, asparagus, cabbage, Roma tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn and lots of flowers. We had 182 big onions last year, but we cut back on onions this year.

“It still takes us 45 minutes to water everything — and with the drought, we are watering every day.  Compared to people in town, we still have a pretty big garden, but it is a lot smaller than it was. With our daughters grown and on their own now, this is all we need.”

older man waters green bean plants growing on a trellis with a green watering can

Family tradition

Anne says gardening is a family tradition. “After David and I got married in 1986, my father-in-law made gardening a full-time thing,” she recalls. “He actually had four gardens. He grew a lot of vegetables for the family, but he also donated a lot of fresh vegetables to his church.”

The first several years Anne and David were married, they grew a half-acre of sweet corn and had a sweet corn stand in front of their house.

Two vegetables David and Anne still grow a lot of are asparagus and green beans.

“David’s favorite vegetable is asparagus, and we’ve always had an asparagus patch,” Anne says. “My favorite vegetables are green beans. We freeze green beans and eat them over the winter.”

In 2017, David came up with a plan to make growing green beans easier.

“We used to plant bush-type green beans that we grew in a row, but six years ago we switched to growing pole beans instead of bush beans,” he explains. “We only have to bend over to pick the green beans at the bottom.”

David bought a wire fence panel and bent it into a U-shape.

“We plant the beans along the bottom of the fence panel on each side, and they grow up the panel,” he says. “It’s a lot easier to pick green beans now.”

About the Author(s)

Fran O'Leary

Wisconsin Agriculturist Editor

Even though Fran was born and raised on a farm in Illinois, she has spent most of her life in Wisconsin. She moved to the state when she was 18 years old and later graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

Fran has 25 years of experience writing, editing and taking pictures. Before becoming editor of the Wisconsin Agriculturist in 2003, she worked at Johnson Hill Press in Fort Atkinson as a writer and editor of farm business publications and at the Janesville Gazette in Janesville as farm editor and feature writer. Later, she signed on as a public relations associate at Bader Rutter in Brookfield, and served as managing editor and farm editor at The Reporter, a daily newspaper in Fond du Lac.

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