SHARON - Keep an eye out for a cargo van adorned with a pug wearing overalls around the Stateline Area, because if you see it - you'll find farm fresh produce, artisan canned goodies and much more.
The pug is the quirky mascot of Wunberg Produce, which was founded by co-owners Kenneth Wundrow and Robert Wesenberg, in 2014. Venture out to the farm at 9219 Lake Shore Road just north of Sharon, and you're greeted by a whole range of fruits and vegetable crops.
The business was spurred thanks, in part, to the strong support from Stateline Area residents, Wundrow said.
"We never really anticipated the growth that we've had," he said. "Our customers are amazing."
This year the wet weather that plagued farms around the region impacted the Wunberg compound. Planting schedules were thrown off, and even some small farms that the business partners with in Michigan didn't manage to grow peaches.
But not to worry.
Wunberg Produce has a widely-popular cannery component to their business, with a wide array of jams, jellies, salsa, butters, syrups, applesauce, honey, pickled vegetables like farm-grown asparagus and cucumbers, and pie fillings made with fresh fruits.
The canning component has taken off and become a mainstay in farm operations, so much so that the duo built on a professional kitchen to the farm house. The cargo van was also brought on to support production, with Wundrow visiting a range of markets across the Stateline Area.
Through a partnership with Mercyhealth, Wunberg Produce and the health system promotes healthy living options for hospital system employees.
It all starts in Sharon, though.
Both Wundrow and Wesenberg share a passion for farming and supporting sustainable culture, but both have had different journeys to where they are today.
Wundrow says his grandmother and aunt are inspirations for his love of farming. He has owned several businesses, including owning a hardware store at 19, before deciding to go full-on into farming.
Wesenberg has spent his entire life farming, spending time with his family across southeastern Wisconsin.
"There's a love that comes with farming," Wundrow said. "We both believe this is a lifestyle."
As Wundrow opens up the back to the cargo van, you're tossed into a kaleidoscope of rich colors from all the jarred items.
"(Jarred items) are something that's helped us with the tough early season compared to other small farms," Wundrow said. "Rather than move away from our partnerships, we decided to stand by them and not seek out anyone else."
That loyalty shared by Wundrow and Wesenberg is part of their farming mantra: Know where your food comes from and respect a harvest's bounty.
With berries coming early in the season, the farm switches gears as the summer turns to fall - as vegetables and other fruits ripen.
Opening the certified kitchen space has helped operations, Wesenberg said.
"It was quite the process, but we are happy to have this all now," Wesenberg says with a smile and a shrug, gesturing around the kitchen any top chef would envy.
From the kitchen, they prepare all the jars of goodies. Their attention to detail and food science is apparent when you hear them talk of things like how they balance pH levels for pickled items - and how they prepare any of the produce that's grown just steps from the kitchen.
"People should think about where their food comes from, and I think that's starting to change with younger generations," Wesenberg said.