April 13, 2021 – Town of Polk, WI – On a dreary Saturday morning with temps in the low 50s Kevin Zimmer and his sidekick Coco set off on a mission to transplant a 4th generation rhubarb patch from the old Peil Farm.
Climbing into his 6-wheel drive red pickup Zimmer cut through the back of his property on County Highway C and headed south through the 97-acre Peil farm; a parcel he closed on purchasing this month.
Rolling through a tree line, past low rock walls that date to the mid-1800s, Zimmer is elated about transplanting the old Peil family rhubarb plot.
“This is just really nice rhubarb,” he said, his eyes a little wild, similar to when local auctioneer Mike Paul talks about his love of bread pudding or limburger cheese.
“It’s really nice rhubarb. Kinda like when you drive down the highway past a farm and you see great big rhubarb. It’s that kind of rhubarb; we like rhubarb.”
Coco kept her eyes forward; watching turkeys cross in front of the vehicle. She had heard the story before, she knew her master well.
The 97-acre Peil farm has an extensive history. Zimmer grabs the original abstract of title off the dashboard. “I just really want to know how old this rhubarb patch is,” he said. “In 1849 the farm traded for $200 and if you page through in 1914 it traded for $5,700 on a 10-year land contract.”
Zimmer plans on developing the property, located north of Highway 60 and east of Hillside Road. His mission today was to save the rhubarb.
Armed with a yellow-handled shovel and a “rhubarb extracting tool” Zimmer got to work, separating the thick stalks and cutting through the roots.
Putting the business end of the shovel into the rich soil Zimmer jumped on the blade for good measure and heaved up an earthy ball of leafy rhubarb.
The project moved rather quickly as Zimmer narrated. “This is nice rich dirt; rhubarb really likes organic dirt, sun and manure,” he said. “I could have my own Saturday morning gardening show.”
“If any of the Peil kids are watching and they want some of their heritage rhubarb back… I’ll part with a few,” said Zimmer.
Before noon Zimmer potted 75 rhubarb plants.
Recipes are now being accepted as the sweet harvest is just around the corner.
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