Building On Success

Building On Success

Selling fresh produce has been a part of Vic and Chris Anthony’s life for years. For the past 45 years, this couple from Wisconsin has been selling vegetables directly to retail food stores. Their farming operation, however, began 30 years ago.

“We used to buy and sell potatoes from other growers,” explains Chris. “Then we built a packingshed to address customers’ needs. In order to ensure an adequate supply and the quality of the produce, we started farming ourselves.”

The Anthonys grow, pack, and ship Wisconsin potatoes. They also grow canning beans, sweet corn, and alfalfa. The operation includes a 5,000 acre farm, year-round potato storage facilities, a grading and packaging plant, sales and marketing office, and a long-distance trucking company.

Anthony Farms At A Glance

Owners: Christine and Victor Anthony
Location: Scandinavia, WI
Acres: 5,000
Employees: 60 full-time; 30 seasonal
Crops Raised: Potatoes, sweet corn, and beans for processing. Potatoes are supplied to customers throughout the Midwest and Eastern U.S.

This farm’s successful marketing techniques and its ability to put the latest technology to good use are just a couple of examples why Anthony Farms is the 2007 Grower Achievement Award winner.

In The Beginning

When the Anthonys first became growers, they planted on 260 acres. Their operation grew as the demands of their customers grew. “We were able to do the marketing and expand our operation,” says Chris.

One of their goals with the farm was to take good care of the land. “The Lord has made this land available for us to use,” says Vic. “We want to leave this soil in better condition than when we purchased it. This is one reason we have been supportive of the Wisconsin Healthy Grown program. Anthony Farms wants to grow the best quality produce. Over the years, we have changed how we farm. We follow Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, which means only giving the crops what they can use.”

The Healthy Grown program was started more than 10 years ago. It was developed through a collaborative effort by the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), World Wildlife Fund, the University of Wisconsin, and other conservation groups. One of the major achievements of this collaboration was reducing the overall toxicity levels of crop inputs by using natural and softer products.

Anthony Farms has been a part of the Healthy Grown program since the mid-1990s. To be a part of this program, Vic says growers need to follow strict farming practices and standards. The farm and the packaging facility are audited every year.

And not just any potato packingshed can pack Healthy Grown potatoes, he continues. The Anthonys must keep the Healthy Grown potatoes in separate storage and separate them on the packingline, if they want the potatoes to be certified.

Because these potatoes have been produced following specific guidelines considered to be better for the soil and the environment, and growers want to draw attention to this fact, Healthy Grown potatoes are packaged in colorful bags and bins. Anthony Farms has recently developed a tray pack to house these potatoes. Because Healthy Grown is synonymous with being environmentally friendly, the tray pack is biodegradable.

Marketing To Consumers

To let consumers know the value of the Healthy Grown program, as well as Wisconsin potatoes, the Anthonys have made marketing a priority. Chris has been involved with the United States Potato Board (USPB) and WPVGA for many years.

In the past five years, Anthony Farms has redesigned its fresh potato packages using information and recommendations from USPB. “If you look at the traditional potato package, it had little information for the consumer, other than nutrition information,” says Chris. “The package didn’t explain how to store the potatoes or what are the best ways to use them.”

With Chris working on the redesign, all that changed. In addition to including storage and cooking instructions, recipes also were incorporated into the new packaging. The Anthonys also saw the need for a bilingual (Spanish/English) potato package, as the Hispanic population in the markets they serve has rapidly grown.

Collaborating with other potato growers and marketers, Chris led a group of Wisconsin fresh potato marketers that designed the Wisconsin Skinny Potato Bin. This colorful bin includes graphics and potato nutrition information, and serves as an in-store billboard promoting fresh potatoes.

The project was awarded the 2005 Produce Business Marketing Excellence Award. “The beautiful thing about this project is that competitors worked together for a common cause: to promote fresh Wisconsin potatoes,” adds Chris.

The Anthonys involvement in potato promotion doesn’t end there. The business has been a leader and a category partner in USBP’s Best in Class program. This program was designed to implement and test best practices in the areas of merchandising, assortment, pricing, promotion, and packaging. Additionally, the Anthonys have been instrumental in bringing the Best in Class and category management training to the shippers in Wisconsin.

Food Quality And Safety

Food safety also is a high priority at Anthony Farms. According to Vic, they have participated in food safety programs since 1991. The operation now has four different food safety audits each year: PrimusLabs.com, AIB International, Protected Harvest (for the Healthy Grown label), and USDA.

Leading The Way

The Anthonys and their team aren’t about to take a back seat in any aspect of the industry, especially when it comes to finding new ways to move forward. Some of their activities include:

Chris Anthony: Current chairperson of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association’s (WPVGA) Potato Promotion and Consumer Education Committee; member of the United Potato Growers of Wisconsin Board of Directors; seven years on the Board Executive Committee of the United States Potato Board; co-chairman of the Planning Committee for the Potato Industry Leadership program.

Vic Anthony: Started the Wisconsin Marketing Program in 1979; state representative to the National Potato Council; founding member of the WPVGA.

Mike Hayes: Plant manager; a graduate of the Potato Industry Leadership Institute.
Tom Prasalowicz: Farm manager; received Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness, University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Greg Zdroik: Head salesman; a graduate of the Wisconsin Potato Industry Leadership Institute.

“With the Food Security Act, we’ve been very proactive in record keeping and traceback,” says Vic. “We inspect incoming transportation units to make sure they meet our standards. We also inspect and seal all the outgoing trailers so the customers know if the trailer has been tampered with.”

With a traceback program in place, the Anthonys can trace produce, as well as fertilizers and crop inputs, back to the fields on which they were grown or applied. “We use a pallet tag system and have a permanent record of the entire history of the field and the product,” he adds.

Innovative Technology

Anthony Farms has not only been a major promoter of the Wisconsin potato and the Healthy Grown program, it also has adopted several innovative practices that help improve water and soil management.

In addition to using computer programs for traceback and to record crop history, the farm uses computers to keep track of irrigation schedules. “Our irrigation systems can be monitored from the farm office or the manager’s laptop,” says farm manager Tom Prasalowicz. “This program allows us to track the status of the systems. Our farm encompasses a vast area and the computer monitoring allows us to monitor the systems without traveling to every field.”

Another innovative task the Anthonys tackled involved improving the soil. “One of our goals is to improve the natural soil fertility,” explains Prasalowicz. “At Anthony Farms, we have been able to do this with our own mix of fish, kelp, molasses, and humic acid that is applied to fields via irrigation pivots. With this solution, the beneficial soil components thrive and increase, more nitrogen is made available naturally to the crops, and less artificial nitrogen is needed.”

Positive Influence

The Anthonys also thrive on helping those less fortunate and are involved in many community organizations. “Our philosophy is that we have been very blessed with success, and we want to give back to the community in which we live and work,” says Chris. Although they are humble about it, Chris and Vic donate fresh potatoes to the local food pantry year round, and at Christmas, they donate potatoes and other produce to a large Christmas gift basket program.

“I have a passion for promoting potatoes,” says Chris. “I’m known as the ‘potato lady.’” She also has worked with local elementary schools to organize a fresh potato promotion as part of the school lunch and fitness programs.

Plans For The Future

Vic and Chris Anthony haven’t just been raising and promoting potatoes all these years. They also raised three grown daughters: Karen, Katie, and Carol. As of right now, the girls do not have plans to take over the farm, but Chris says that can change. Even if it doesn’t change, she says the farming operation will continue after she and Vic retire.

A Message From The Sponsor

Being a leader in the industry and striving for excellence are goals we strive for and goals Anthony Farms has achieved. As the proud sponsor of the 2007 Grower Achievement Award, Syngenta Seeds/ROGERS brand congratulates Anthony Farms on being this year’s award recipient. In business for more than 40 years, Anthony Farms has adapted to change over the years in order to stay successful.

With a mission of making superior vegetables a reality and as an integral part of Syngenta, the ROGERS brand is strategically focused on bringing value to the entire food chain. The Grower Achievement Award is acknowledgement of excellence and commitment to the agriculture industry, an award well deserved by Anthony Farms.

Congratulations to Anthony Farms. We are proud to celebrate your success!

“Because our farm isn’t located in an urban area, I don’t see it being sold for development,” she says. “We’ve got a wonderful group of dedicated employees and we’d like to see what we built continue in one form or another. I do believe that it will remain as a farm. Will it stay the same? I don’t think so. It isn’t the same operation it was when it was started. Change is inevitable.”

About The Award

Growers, researchers, vegetable associations, and allied industry members from across the country were solicited for nominations for the 2007 Grower Achievement Award. The award is presented annually by American Vegetable Grower, and is sponsored by Syngenta Seeds/ROGERS brand, in cooperation with United Fresh Produce Association. Nominees were evaluated based on an operation’s achievements in several areas: consumer-oriented marketing, innovative technology, food safety and quality, industry leadership, and an overall spirit of achievement.

This year’s nominations were evaluated by a panel of judges representing a cross-section of the U.S. vegetableindustry including: 

â–  Dr. Michael Orzolek, Professor of Vegetable Crops, The Pennsylvania State University, member of American Vegetable Grower’s Editorial Advisory Board

â–  Steven Koike, Plant Pathologist and Farm Adviser, University of California Cooperative Extension; member of American Vegetable Grower’s Editorial Advisory Board

â–  Alain Pincot, Operations Manager at Betteravia Farms, winner of the 2003 Grower Achievement Award.

â–  Dan Burdett, Head of Vegetables, NAFTA, Syngenta Seeds/ROGERS Brand

â–  Rose Reifsnyder, Marketing Communications Manager, Syngenta Seeds/ROGERS Brand

â–  Jerry Welcome, Executive Vice President Business Development, United Fresh Produce Association

â–  Brian Sparks, Group Editor, American Vegetable Grower Magazine

â–  Rosemary Gordon, Senior Managing Editor, American Vegetable Grower Magazine

The 2007 Grower Achievement Award will be presented to Anthony Farms during United Fresh’s Public Policy Conference on Sept. 13 in Washington, DC.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

All Vegetables Stories >All Fruits Stories >All Nuts Stories >All Citrus Stories >

The Latest

CitrusMajor Florida Citrus Planting Incentive Program Announc…
September 23, 2014
Citrus World Inc. plans to invest $10 million to encourage new acreage. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdatePositive Attitudes Promote Citrus Planting
September 23, 2014
Improving management methods gives growers confidence in the future. Read More
CitrusNational Farmers Union Submits Comments On Clean Water …
September 23, 2014
Organization urges other industry groups to submit constructive comments. Read More
GenNext GrowersAnnouncing The GenNext Growers Webcast Series
September 23, 2014
This series will present strategies and tips to make your voice heard and count when speaking to legislators. Read More
VegetablesViability On The Menu For Long-Term Vegetable Market O…
September 23, 2014
Economic recovery favorable for climbing consumption trends. Read More
CitrusLuke Bryan Pays It Forward For Farming
September 23, 2014
Country superstar honors agriculture with his Farm Tour. Read More
IrrigationFlorida Growers Seize Control Of Water Challenges
September 22, 2014
New irrigation projects and fertilizer practices have tremendous potential for protecting resources, while enhancing productivity. Read More
CitrusNew Superhero Aims To Save Florida Citrus
September 22, 2014
Unique marketing partnership comes to life through comics. Read More
Apples & PearsKasumin Now Registered For Fire Blight Control
September 22, 2014
EPA approves use of bactericide on pome fruit as disease management tool. Read More
Food SafetyUSDA Issues Updates To Food Safety Modernization Act
September 19, 2014
Water testing, definition of applicable farms based on produce sales among clarifications to proposed rules. Read More
GrapesThird Straight Record Crop For Washington Grapes
September 19, 2014
Numbers expected to climb as more vines planted in the state. Read More
GrapesFrench Winegrowers Face Higher Labor Costs
September 19, 2014
French wineries may come under added financial pressure as the government considers imposing social charges on wages paid to harvest workers with short-term contracts. Read More
IrrigationCalifornia Boosts Local Water Control
September 19, 2014
Governor Jerry Brown signs historic legislation to strengthen local management and monitoring of critical groundwater basins. Read More
VegetablesSakata Seed America Shows Heart Through Charitable Prog…
September 19, 2014
Company’s corporate giving mission bears fruit for the American Heart Association. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateAdditional Aid Coming For Florida Citrus Growers Gouged…
September 17, 2014
Through USDA’s Tree Assistance Program, eligible growers can cash in on cost share for diseased tree removal and replanting. Read More
FruitsFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Seeks Fresh A…
September 17, 2014
New partnership bolsters Fresh From Florida program. Read More
CitrusFDA Announces Cooperative Agreement To Implement Nation…
September 17, 2014
Agreement will provide information to help plan and carry out the produce safety rule in partnership with state regulatory agencies. Read More
NutsAchieving A Super-Premium Walnut Crop
September 17, 2014
What are the best ways to get high quality walnuts that are light in color and fully developed? Read these 8 harvest best practices to find out. Read More