Interview with Michael Shafel
A fifth-generation family farm, Sunnydale Farms Inc. originated in the early 1900s and is located in Langlade County near Bryant, Wisconsin, where the silt loam topsoil is fertile, and the air is crisp and cool in all but the heat of summer.
The county’s unique table-flat plain area is where Wisconsin seed potatoes are historically concentrated and grown.
Michael Shafel is the president and owner/operator of the Shafel family farm—Sunnydale Farms Inc.—where approximately 235 acres of certified and foundation seed potatoes are produced. The operation also includes a three-year rotation between crops of wheat, oats, snap beans, soybeans and alfalfa.
In 1968, Mike’s parents, Jim and Bonnie, took over the family farm from their father, Joe. At that time, it was a combination potato and dairy farm.
In 1971, they transitioned away from dairy to concentrate solely on the production of certified seed potatoes, and in 1990, the farm operation incorporated. In 2005, Jim and Bonnie retired.
Today, the operation consists of Mike, his wife, Kathleen, their son, Markus, and his wife, Kristy. There are three full-time and six to eight seasonal employees.
Potatoes ship to extended parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, and varieties include Dark Red Norland, Red Norland, Yukon Gold, Superior, Atlantic and Snowden.