GroCo • Owner • Spotlight: Michael Schwabe

"I have belonged to other Co-ops like PCA, Badgerland co-op, Equity Feed and Fuel co-op, and Equity livestock. They all were created by people that banned together to get a better price and save money."


This is Owner #295, Michael Schwabe, a dedicated volunteer of many organizations including the Gro Co! We sat down to learn a little about him to find out his thoughts on becoming an Owner.

Tell me a little about yourself: hobbies, job, obsessions, etc.

My hobbies are gardening, volunteering, canning, cooking, and woodworking. I have three sisters and three brothers. I’m the oldest of the seven. I grew up in Whitewater on the P.H. Door farm on Hi Lo Rd. Started school at Lakeview school. We moved sixteen times before graduating at Elkhorn High School in 1971. Went to school in Whitewater, East Troy, Troy, La Prairie, Janesville, Whitewater, and Elkhorn. When in school I was in 4-H, FFA, junior dairyman, Jr. Grange clubs. I showed duroc pigs and the county fair. Cattle was shown at junior dairyman state conventions, county Guernsey prairie show, county fair jr and open class, state fair, and world expo in Madison. I show woodworking at the Milwaukee boot show and county fair. The last three years I have shown canning and vegetables. I am a life time member of the county fair. I volunteer approximately three hundred to four hundred fifty hours per year. Some of the places I volunteer are the county and state parks, master gardener program, UWW garden, badger FFA greenhouse, Wisconsin Farm Technology Day Inc., and the Whitewater Gro Co.

I have an associate degree in Ag and horticulture from Gateway Technical College, Blackhawk Technical College, and MATC Madison. I used to farm 960 acres milking seventy two regular Guernsey cows and young stock. I also has ten regular duroc cows. 

I now work at Norvares old MPC in Walworth. Novares makes plastics parts for GM and John Deer. Other places I have worked are McLean Fogg, American Storage, Vision Plastics Inc., Launder-eze, Woodhill Farms Nursery & Supply, Havi-Duty Electric, and Millard Feed Mill. 

Why did you become an Owner of the Gro Co?

I have belonged to other Co-ops like PCA, Badgerland co-op, Equity Feed and Fuel co-op, and Equity livestock. They all were created by people that banned together to get a better price and save money. They also paid dividend share on profit. 

What’s your favorite recipe? Why? What is the recipe? 

My favorite recipe is Lefse. We spend two days baking and frying lefse, rosettes, and doughnuts. We all meet at my grandmother’s house; my brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and nieces. We have a good time talking about what is going on in our lives and have fun. My grandmother has a large table that sits twenty six people at one time. The meal would include Lutefish with butter. We also did canning sweetcorn and tomatoes in the summer at her house. 

Ingredients: 5 large potatoes, ½ cup sweet cream, 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ cups of flour for each cup of mashed potatoes.

Method: Boil potatoes, mash very fine and add cream, butter, and salt; beat until light and let cool. Add flour and role into a ball of dough, kneading until smooth. Form into a long roll and slice into pieces about the size of a large egg, or larger, depending on the size of lefse desired. Roll each piece round as for pie crust and thin as possible. Bake on lefse griddle or pancake griddle until light brown, turning frequently so as not to scorch. Use moderate heat. Do not grease pan. When baked, place between clean clothes or wax paper to keep them from becoming dry. Serve cold with butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Cut each lefse in half or fourths and roll before serving. 

What’s the quirkiest/funniest thing that’s ever happened to you in a grocery store?

When mom and I went shopping a girl came running at me and jumped on me. We were not boyfriend and girlfriend. She was a customer I did landscaping for two years earlier. She became best friends with my mom. 

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  • Jonathan Roberts