A storybook farm
Godsells receive first Muskego agritourism designation

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

Aug. 19, 2015

Mark Godsell with one of his burros at Godsell Farm.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

MUSKEGO - The Godsells’ six-acre farm resembles a place out of a child’s storybook, with pens containing pigs, goats, horses, chickens and ducks that stand near a log cabin decorated for birthday parties.

The farm’s animals would also make great picture book characters - from the three-legged goat that jumped over fences to the horse that limps and was no longer wanted by its former petting zoo.

While Pam and Mark Godsells’ farm at S105-W15585 Loomis Drive in Muskego has welcomed school children and families for the past few years to go on hayrides and to pick pumpkins, this past Sunday the couple celebrated its new designation as an agritourism farm.

Like many small farm owners, the Godsells have had to get creative to bring in revenue to maintain the property and its many furry and feathery residents. This year they held a farm-to-table dinner for the first time. A private chef was brought in to cook a meal using ingredients grown or raised on the farm. The chef cooked the six-course meal on site for the approximately 30 people in attendance, and everything was grown on Godsell Farm except for the strawberries and whipping cream, Pam Godsell said.

Pam Godsell with one of the horses on Godsell Farm.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Pam and Mark Godsell on the porch of the log cabin on Godsell Farm.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

After several meetings with city staff and filling out stacks of paperwork, the Godsells helped create a zoning ordinance that was approved by the Common Council. Muskego Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti said the city was happy to work with the Godsells on creating this designation because the city values agriculture and it will allow Godsell Farm to continue educating area youth.

While Godsell Farm has traditionally welcomed the public to its land, especially during October, its operations weren’t always city-sanctioned. Now Pam and Mark are excited to welcome families under its new designation as an agritourism business.

Other offerings at Godsell Farm include gardening and chicken-keeping classes. It’s also a popular spot for children’s birthday parties, held in the cabin or in a covered picnic area. There are a few wooden cutouts for picture poses, as well as old farm equipment to learn about. Mark Godsell created a demonstration cow so he could demonstrate milking for children. He said it’s especially popular with girls who will fight over who gets to try it next.

Goats in an enclosure at Godsell Farm.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

One of Godsell Farm’s major sources of income is its community-supported agriculture program, in which about 90 families participate. A sign-up is held in January and within two weeks the limit is reached, Pam Godsell said. So far this year, each participating family has been able to stop by the farm every week to pick up a tote bag of produce that is kept in the barn’s fridge for them.

The Godsells also formed a partnership with Sendik’s Food Market in Franklin to get produce Sendik’s no longer wants to sell, so the animals can eat it.


Buying the land, building the farm

When Mark Godsell saw the land for sale about 25 years ago, he decided he wanted to buy it even though he had no farming experience. He then started to take in animals that needed a home because petting zoos no longer wanted them or for other reasons. One horse was part of a petting zoo and was used to give children rides, but because he limped the zoo no longer wanted him and the Godsells took him in.

Tomatoes ripen on the vine at Godsell Farm.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

At first, Mark Godsell would welcome school groups to the farm, but since then the operation has been expanded with the help of Pam. Mark works full time on the farm while Pam has an outside full-time job.

While the animals are keen on getting visitors’ attention, there are many beds of plants circling the farm. All six acres are utilized. In later winter and early spring, the Godsells grow produce in hoop houses.

“We try to do everything as natural as possible,” Pam Godsell said. For her, the farm is more of an educational destination than an attraction.

Goats seek attention at Godsell Farm.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

In the near future, Pam said, she’d like to host a fall dinner on the farm, as well as a pig roast and a breakfast. Soon, the Godsells will be launching a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for extending their  hatchery program with area schools. They are already partnering with 16 schools that hatch the chicks and then return them to the farm.

“I love the animals and it’s nice to educate the kids,” Pam said.

Mark said he has grown accustomed to eating the fresh produce, meat and eggs the farm produces and wouldn’t want to return to store-bought items. Although if you look closely at one of the Pick ‘n Save commercials currently airing, you’ll find the Godsells holding chickens and apples in a store.