To the Editor-
Portage County is a strong, close-knit community of hardworking and compassionate people, and we pride ourselves on helping others when times get tough.
The Cisewski family of Custer recently suffered a terrible loss when their over 100-year-old barn burned to the ground Monday, October 19th, taking with it feed hay for their animals as well as nearly all their farm equipment.
The Cisewskis and their family business, “Grown Here Gardens,” have been a part of the local community for eleven years, with upgrades in the last three years to include a greenhouse and milking options. This greenhouse, almost a third of which was destroyed in the fire, was a source of income for their CSA arrangement.
The family had been planning to grow well into this coming winter but now will not be able to. The Cisewskis hoped to eventually grow produce all year to provide for the community. In addition to their barn and greenhouse, their house suffered siding damage, and their outdoor wood boiler was a complete loss from the blaze.
The barn was the biggest loss, having been passed down and used for farming through generations. Prior to its location on the Cisewskis’ property, the barn had spent 105 years in service on Tim’s great grandfather’s farm. The family’s seven-year-old son had even helped to build the barn on the Cisewskis’ farm with his own hammer, which was lost in the fire.
The family had recently purchased milking equipment, hoping to begin offering frozen custard for sale and excited about the chance to expand their business. They lost their breeding miniature bull Francis as well as milking machines in the leveled dairy barn. Sherri, Tim’s wife, and mother to Michael, Lucas, Lillian and Eva, had received Francis as a birthday gift. Their Skidster, needed for daily farm maintenance, was also destroyed.
As the Cisewskis work to recover what little they can through their insurance, they desperately need the support of our community to begin rebuilding what will not be covered. The family is in strong need of farm equipment, including wood both for heat and reconstruction, and hay and watering equipment for their cows and llamas. Pitchforks, shovels, and any gardening tools are also needed. If you have any of this equipment or know someone who would be able to donate to the Cisewskis, please contact them to help out.
For financial help, please consider donating to the Cisewskis through their Go Fund Me page, at https://www.gofundme.com/7m6pqyyk. You are also welcome to send check donations to Tim Cisewski, 1225 Ridge Road, Custer, WI 54423.
Please contact Tim at 715-592-4325 if there are any other ways you can think of to assist them during this difficult and stressful time. Thank you for considering helping the Cisewskis, who are vital members of our community.
Danielle Cook, Stevens Point