Emily Knudsen peels out a breakfast pie from the wood-fired oven at Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm.

Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm / Facebook

Share a Pie With Goats and a Donkey at Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm

Customers at this Minnesota pizza farm have to bring their own tables, chairs, appetizers, drinks and napkins, but the pies are worth it.

  • Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm is a sprawling 55-acre property in Waseca, Minnesota, featuring walking trails, animals, live music and a renovated barn that houses two wood-fired ovens.
  • The owners run a “clean farm,” meaning customers must clean up after themselves and take their trash home.

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With a name like Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm, what’s not to like? The 55-acre “pizzeria” has reopened for business in Waseca, Minnesota, after a winter break, offering service on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in May, and adding Thursdays to the schedule from June through September.

Emily Knudsen and Bill Bartz founded Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm in 2015 to connect their land with the local farming community and grow agritourism in the area. They renovated an old horse barn, added a kitchen to it, cleared out a pasture and built a stage for live music.

Guests can stroll through the nature trails on the open prairie or wander through oak-filled woods. They can also stop for a visit with Dorothy the donkey or Pie Pie and Kenny, a pair of goats, while they’re waiting for their pizza to arrive.

And make no mistake: Knudsen and Bartz take pizza seriously. Baking with two wood-fired ovens, they offer nine regular specialty pies, including the meat-free Lola (olive oil, garlic seasoning, kalamata olives, fresh basil, fresh and shredded mozzarella), and the MN Mess (red sauce, sausage, mushrooms, black and green olives, green peppers, onions and mozzarella).

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To kick off the Summer 2020 season, they added a Hot Hawaiian pizza featuring red sauce, Canadian bacon, pineapple, jalapenos, maraschino cherries and red pepper flakes.

They also grow many of their own ingredients and purchase other ingredients locally whenever possible.

Knudsen told KEYC that she spent time on a hobby farm in her childhood, and that inspired her to start a similar business. “I love hobby farms, and I just thought, ‘I want to do this one day. I want to own a pizza farm.’ I love everything about this concept.”

This photo shows children feeding a donkey at Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm

The owners emphasize that they run a “clean farm,” meaning customers must clean up after themselves and take their trash home. In fact, they have to bring their own seating, too, whether it’s a portable table, chairs or a picnic blanket, as well as plates, cups, utensils and napkins—even their own beverages and side items. Pleasant Grove just provides the pies, along with pizza fries and, when available, a cast-iron skillet chocolate chip cookie.

But the crowds pour in, drawn by the tasty pizzas and the tranquil, kid-friendly setting. “I love to see families having a good time,” Knudsen told KEYC. “I love to look out into the sea of people, and they are not on their phones. They are actually conversing face-to-face, and they’re laughing—you know, good, deep conversations and catching up.”

When the cold Minnesota winters settle in, Knudzen and Bartz close up shop, then reopen in March. “We’re always so excited in the spring to wash the barn and open it up and get to work implementing new ideas,” Bartz told the Minnesota Post in 2019.

Explore Minnesota lists several other pizza farms, including Two Pony Gardens in Long Lake; Red Barn Farm in Northfield; DreamAcres Farm in Wykoff; Squash Blossom Farm in Oronoco; and Clover Bee Farm in Shafer.