Taking a deeper interest in DFA and industry issues

Written by Emily Battmer
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Young Cooperators Jim and Shelly Grosenick have done a lot in their five years together. Since 2010, they have started a family, remodeled their home, expanded their dairy and rebuilt their barn following a 2013 fire, after which Shelly transitioned from working off the farm to dairying fulltime.

Now, the couple has an unusual item to add to that list: producing a local television show.

Shelly started the talk show, Bountiful Wisconsin, in fall 2014, when a local studio, Watertown TV, contacted her with a suggestion they received from a middle school student: create a TV show about agriculture. With a passion for agriculture promotion, their second baby on the way and no experience in television, Shelly says it was an offer she couldn’t pass up.

“If you had asked me five years ago if I would be producing a TV show, I never would have guessed,” she says.

Shelly recruited two friends from her days in Madison, Wis., at the University of Wisconsin to help her, and together, they built an entire TV show from the ground up, choosing a name, building a website and spreading the word on social media. In each episode, Shelly and the other hosts sit down with the personalities behind agricultural products made and enjoyed in Wisconsin for one-on-one interviews, demonstrations and on-location tours.

They filmed their first episode by the end of January, and the show made its debut on the public access cable station the following month.

“I will admit that it was a lot more work than we thought it was going to be,” Shelly says.

Now, in between milking 300 cows and managing Crimson Ridge Dairy with Jim, Shelly has taken over most of the show’s production and hosting duties with the help of some guest hosts and Watertown TV studio volunteers.

In all, Bountiful Wisconsin has produced five half-hour episodes, each of which airs for a month at a time. Shelly has had the opportunity to cover a wide range of topics, interviewing local food producers ranging from chocolatiers to coffee roasters. 

“I don’t have one favorite, because each interview, each episode, each business that we talk to, I learn something new and different,” she says. “I’ve been involved in agriculture my entire life, and I am still learning so much with this TV show.”

If she had to choose, Shelly says one of her favorite stories she’s covered was her “beer and bacon” interview, featuring the local Karben4 brewery and Lonely Oak Farm, a nearby heritage pork producer.

Shelly sat down with the owners of each business to talk about their unique relationship — Karben4’s spent grain, or mash, which is used in the brewing process, is recycled as feed on Lonely Oak Farm, and the mash-fed pork is then served on the brewery’s menu.

“It was so fun talking to both of them about their dreams, how they got involved in their businesses, and how they found each other, and how they contribute to agriculture here in Wisconsin,” she says. “The more I find out about these businesses, the more proud I am to be a part of agriculture and to share the story as well.”

Shelly says she has learned more than she expected through her involvement with the show, not only about television production, but also about the diverse agriculture practices used throughout the state. She says her goal for the show is to help inform others about agriculture in Wisconsin as well.

“We’re taking a closer look at the people and the businesses behind the products we enjoy every day,” she says. “There’s such a gap between the agriculture community and general consumers, and through Bountiful Wisconsin, I’m trying to help build the bridge to bring those two groups together.”

The Grosenicks have always gone above and beyond to promote dairy and the agriculture industry, volunteering with local agriculture organizations, speaking in classrooms and welcoming visitors to the farm. In 2012, they hosted about 4,500 people at a two-day breakfast on Crimson Ridge Dairy. The event didn’t stop at milk and pancakes — they also coordinated a kiddie tractor pull and a farm scavenger hunt that rewarded children with a token for free custard from a local restaurant. 

“Jim and I are both very passionate about the dairy industry, and we want to promote agriculture as much as possible,” Shelly says. “If we’re going to do something, we’re going to do it right or we’re not going to do it at all.”

Of all the dairy promotion the couple has done in the past five years, Shelly says producing a television show probably takes the cake. The show was originally supposed to run for one year, but there have recently been talks of extending that timeline. Shelly says the prospect of continuing the show into the future is exciting and daunting at the same time, and she would like to recruit volunteers and guest hosts to help ensure the show’s continued success.

Ultimately, she says her goal is for Bountiful Wisconsin to become a longstanding program. Eventually, she would like to revisit some of the show’s early interviewees and see how far they’ve come in their businesses.

“We interviewed a sophomore in high school that has his own honey business, and he was so professional and knowledgeable about the beekeeping and honey industry,” Shelly says. “It would be so cool to come back in a few years and see how he’s contributed to the agriculture industry.”

Shelly says the show has been a fun learning experience for her, but the project also has an important purpose. She says agriculture promotion is essential in correcting the misinformation that consumers hear too often.

“Jim says there are too many people willing to tell our story for us, and it’s not right,” Shelly says. “The only way we’re going to feed a growing population is by sustaining our business and making sure the public has the accurate story.”

Bountiful Wisconsin is available for on-demand viewing at watertowntv.com/on-demand