Grower Profiles: Fifth Generation Farm Continues Excellence Across Decades

Eric SchroederOwning and operating a farm takes a lot of time and patience, but it also provides significant memories. After watching his family’s farm carry on through five generations, Eric Schroeder of Schroeder Bros. Farms Inc. in Antigo, Wisconsin, says he has lots of great memories growing up.

“Our farm was established in Antigo in 1879 with crops and potatoes. In the 1960’s, my great grandpa and Uncle Tom started focusing on growing seed potatoes,” Eric says. Eventually, Eric’s grandpa John took over the farm following a snowmobile accident involving his Uncle Tom.

“I remember riding on a combine quite often as a kid,” he recollects. “We used to tap maple trees for syrup. Most of my memories involved loading up on sugar by drinking maple syrup right out of the faucet!”

He also remembers hearing stories of his grandfather leaving a cash box in town on the back of a truck filled with 50lb. sacks of potatoes in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He says people would pick up their potatoes and leave their money. “Grandpa used to do the same thing in the parking lot at Packer games, while he sat in the stadium and watched the game!” Eric adds.

Eric began working on the farm more frequently during the summers in high school and college. He attended Eau Claire for business administration and Spanish for business. He says at the farm, there are plenty of opportunities for him to use his degree.

During the spring and fall seasons, Eric helps his family in the fields with planting and harvest. He also works with food safety audits and documenting for Frito Lay as a supplier, to name a few. He says there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to ensure a quality product for consumers at the end of the day. Eric says not a day has gone by when he hasn’t learned something.

“It’s easy to think that all you have to do is put potatoes in the ground, let them sit for a few months and then dig them out. Realistically, there’s so much science involved. It’s pretty incredible how technical this business is.” he says.

And that often means making improvements in facilities and equipment, both of which the team at Schroeder Bros. Farms Inc. has accomplished.

“We’ve incorporated precision crop as far as planting and dragging the fields, and have installed GPS on our plows and irrigation pivots. We’ve recently added some new warehouses after the farm burned down in 2008 and have added a barrel washer/polisher last year, which helps with our Red potato crop.”

Schroeder Bros. Farms is a Wisconsin Certified Seed Grower, selling certified and foundation seed. The family also owns and operates Schroder’s Gifts in Antigo, Wisconsin. Visit their site for details http://schroedersgifts.com/.

Eric currently serves on the WPVGA Seed Board, Board of Directors  and Chip Committee, in addition to the United States Potato Board (USPB). His brother Andy also works on the farm with their cousins.

Schroeder Bros. Farms Inc. farms over 2200 acres of potatoes with an additional 4500 acres of alfalfa, soybeans, oats, field corn and seed corn.   They have fields located in Langlade, Oconto and Shawano Counties that travel as far as 50 miles east and 25 miles to the north.

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