Milk Run

US - When Willow Farm Dairy closed in 1970, Brookfield’s lost the last link to its rural past
calendar icon 28 February 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
This is more than just a story about one of the first dairies in Brookfield, with its roots going back to 1890, when the village was still newly named as Grossdale. It is also about a family-run business that for 80 years served the needs of this and other communities.

Before 1890, Jon and Mary Polivka, with a number of other Polivkas, left Czechoslovakia and came to the United States, settling in the central part of Wisconsin, in Adams county. They were all potato farmers.

However, the Polivkas' crops were not sufficient to live off of, so Jon, Mary and their children-Peter J., Edward J., Jack II, George, Robert E., Richard, Agnes and Mary-left Wisconsin, coming to live in a square farmhouse with a barn on 47th Street and Plainfield Road. At the time. those streets were little more than dirt paths.

Jon became "Jack," the first of the Polivkas here. It is not known whether he tried growing potatoes here. Jack Polivka III, in a 1990 interview with Brookfield's Words Passed Oral History Group stated, "My grandfather [Jon] went to work for Stubbin's Greenhouse, which was located on Plainfield Road near First Avenue. He worked for 50 cents a day, seven days a week."

But the Polivkas were farmers and soon set up a hay, feed, and grain business while farming in the area. And what an area it was. At one time, they grew crops on about 700 acres, including the future Reynolds Aluminum plant site, which they leased. Local residents recalled the farm extending to and around Congress Park School at Shields and Raymond avenues.

Source: Riverside Brookfield Landmark
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