The Elegant Farmer transitions to fourth generation of ownership

Tina, Keith and Katie Schmidt are the third- and fourth-generation owners of The Elegant Farmer, which has been locally family-owned and operated since 1946. Credit: The Elegant Farmer

Last updated on February 2nd, 2023 at 06:01 pm

The Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago has transitioned to its fourth generation of ownership, the acclaimed specialty market and pie maker announced.

After 17 years of ownership, brothers Mike and John Bauer have retired, selling their shares of the business to their third partner Keith Schmidt, who now owns and operates The Elegant Farmer with his wife Tina and daughter Katie Schmidt. The family represents the third and, now with Katie, the fourth generation to run the 76-year-old business, known for its trademarked Apple Pie Baked in a Paper Bag.

The Elegant Farmer sells a line of specialty food items, including Cider Baked Ham, homemade applesauce, gourmet popcorn, Wisconsin cheeses and seasonal produce from its Farm Kitchen Bakery, Deli & Market at 1545 Main St., just west of I-43. Its Apple Pie Baked in a Paper Bag and other goods can also be found at more than 400 retail locations in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, and online through The Elegant Farmer’s website. The 65-acre farm and its iconic Smiling Barn draws customers from across the region with pick-your-own apples and pumpkins in fall and events like the Autumn Harvest Festival, Easter Celebration and Blue Ribbon Cheese Fest.

“It is a pleasure to bring in my family to help me continue The Elegant Farmer’s long-standing traditions, family-friendly events and production of our simply the best specialty foods,” said Keith Schmidt in a news release. “Staying as a local, family-owned and operated business for four generations is one of the reasons The Elegant Farmer is so beloved.”

Founded in 1946 by brothers Dave and Elmer Scheel, The Elegant Farmer grew from its origins as a family dairy farm into a year-round roadside farmers market, which later expanded into a bakery and deli operation under the ownership of Elmer’s son Dan Scheel and his wife Karen. In 2006, the business was sold to then longtime employees Keith Schmidt and John Bauer and John’s brother Mike, according to the company’s website.

The tradition continues now with this latest ownership transition.

“Tina and I are especially delighted to have our talented daughter bring in the next generation’s fresh eyes and forward-thinking approach to help maintain and expand The Elegant Farmer for generations to come.”

Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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