The Driftless’ Own Gene Schriefer is promoted to head Wisconsin’s Farm Service Agency, the Biden Administration announced yesterday. For those of you who may not know Gene, he, his wife and son raise lamb and grass-fed beef from a farm outside of Dodgeville, Wisconsin. Since 2009, he has served as a Senior Outreach Specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension and Agriculture Educator in Iowa County. He engages with farmers and faculty on sustainability, soil health, regenerative agriculture, regional food systems, and climate change. Prior to his current Extension role, Gene was a regional grazing specialist with Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development, working with producers in nine counties. He has also served as an Extension 4-H Youth Development Agent in Rusk and Columbia Counties. Gene earned his bachelorâ€™s and masterâ€™s degrees from Purdue University in Agriculture Education and Farm Management. His current work with the Grasslands 2.0 project has been invaluable.
Gene’s straightforward approach, curiosity, and his social networking skills will serve Wisconsin well at FSA. As he takes this important state-wide position that links Wisconsin farmers to federal farming programs, we look forward to his perspective on high-leverage ways to strengthen and transform Wisconsin agriculture.
More sustainable and healthy food systems starts with seeds. Through volunteer trials of various cultivars of tomato seed or carrot seed, lettuce or eggplant, researchers can determine the best environments for seeds without the need for fertilizer or toxins…simply using data to create better food/agricultural security.
Join us to learn about SeedLinked, an emerging collaborative data sharing platform that connects people and data to help characterize, breed, source, and harvest the best. Democratizing data driven decision around seed because a more sustainable and healthy food system starts with seed.
Dr Julie Dawson (UW-Horticulture) and Nicolas Enjalbert will present the overall concept and mission of SeedLinked, a social enterprise platform (B corp). SeedLinked is founded upon the core values of collaboration, transparency, decentralization, and open access.It combines the power of citizen science with accessible smartphone technology and data analytics to create a tool anyone can use to breed, source, and harvest the best seeds for a more successful growing season, and a more resilient food future.
There is a flurry of activity to support small farmers and their farmers markets and restaurant partners as we all grapple with changing supply chains. The good news is that with restaurants closed, people are purchasing more food from groceries. (More than 50% of the food we consume has come from restaurants!) Our independent grocery partners are now on the front line of resilience in the food system.
I will post info to this web site as it becomes available to me. For example, this webinar will discuss on-line sales platforms and will be recorded so you can participate live or listen later. [I realize not everyone has internet access – people are working on options. Time to make the internet a utility!]:
With restaurants and some farmers markets shutting down, we know many of you need to find alternative sales channels for your products. Customers are also looking for new solutions to buy quality, organic food safely.
Join Oregon Tilth’s free webinar on Friday, March 20 at 11:00am PST to learn more about direct-to-consumer online sales platforms.
Please forward this to any farmers that may benefit from attending.
Weâ€™ll hear from representatives from four online sales platforms:
Kate was on the UW-Madison campus the week of April 2 and gave a presentation for the Food and the Wisconsin Idea. The session is titled “The systems that feed us and what it will take to change them”. ( https://youtu.be/3yVx9OqKTcA ) The term â€œfood systemâ€ is widely used in academia and the nonprofit sector, but what do we really mean by it? Are we really using systems approaches to complex problems that could lead to greater understanding and effective solutions? What stands in our way? I was honored to join Kate on the stage to address these questions. UWEX runs these sessions so that people outstate can join the event as though it is a webniar, or watch the talk on line after the event.
On April 4, Kate was the featured speaker at the Weston Roundtable Lecture speaking on “Building Successful Interdisciplinary Projects“. Despite widespread acknowledgment that interdisciplinary research (IR) is among the most important ways to drive sustainable development, many collaborations fail, and it has not been embraced by many researchers and institutions. The extensive literature on IR provides guidance on the “ingredients for successâ€: these elements are illustrated by the experience of a seven-year project – EFSNE – conducted in the Northeast US on enhancing food security in the region. The lecture offers lessons on how to develop and manage robust interdisciplinary projects, and ideas on how to build more IR capacity.
Kate is a food systems consultant, visiting scholar at the Center for a Liveable Future at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Adjunct Professor at Tufts University, and Senior Fellow in the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota.
UW-Madison is offering Making More From Milk again this year, and has recently received sponsorships for the course. Wisconsin Farmers Union has agreed to provide full scholarships for 3 of their members, and Compeer Financialâ€™s sponsorship will provide $100 for the first 10 people who register for the course.
The three day event April 23-25 is taught with both lecture-style presentations and visits to farms. Spanish translation available. Topics to be covered:
Welcome, introductions, overview of value-added ideas and trends, retail visit, local foods restaurant, farmer value-added panel
Visits to goat and cow milk operations, retail, restaurant, cheese, ice cream, bottled milk
Branding and marketing â€“ telling your story, equipment and supplies, cultures, financial resources, grants, food safety, regulations, next steps
Optional activity Friday 26 – Cheese making with Cesar Luis
The Driftless is prone to flooding, as we all know, and with the rapid snow melt, areas are already experiencing flooding. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services, with funding from the US Centers for Disease Control has developed a Flood Risk Mapping Application that you can use to figure out – in real time – what your flood risk is. The tool is intended for use by emergency personnel, city planners, and public health officials. But if you have access to internet services, you can also see forecasted precipitation, areas of flooding and the degree of flooding. It also maps healthcare facilities, socio-economic vulnerability, and areas with electrically-vulnerable people.
Google wants to better understand the ways that technology can benefit food systems. Skeptical? So was I. But after participating in three meetings, including one in Chicago last week, I am warming to the idea.
Watch the conversation about the future of AI in our food system with former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Food Tank, Google, and Refresh Working Group members. I think you will particularly enjoy the duet between Ali Lange (Google, formerly of the Center for Democracy and Technology), and Don Bustos, a Native New Mexican farmer. Ankita Raturi hit the ball out of the park when she notes that rural US needs stable internet access. This one is worth the watch.
â€œI think we have a long way to go before we start deploying Siri for farms,â€ she said. â€œWe need fundamental technical infrastructure right now â€¦ very basic building blocks. What are the fundamental pieces we need to build first, and then people can imagine what other tools might be able to do.â€ –Ankita Raturi
In a first report from the working group, From Soil to Supper, you will see short pieces on how AI is currently in use, primarily for data collection for traditional production, distribution, and retailing. It is my hope that future reports will begin to address power disparities in the food system and the way that data privatization and technology appropriate for small to mid-scale farms is being developed. Something to help farmers anticipate extreme weather, like the Driftless flooding, would be appreciated, I am sure.
And if you have thoughts about food+tech you want me to bring to the table, please post comments below. I would be happy to share your thoughts with the working group at our next meeting.
Planning a small business growing and selling fresh vegetables? Join us for the 2019 Wisconsin School for Beginning Market Growers, January 11-13. Registration is now open! A limited number of scholarships are available. Click here for more information or to register or contact John Hendrickson (email@example.com)
Join Iowa County’s Uplands Farmer-led watershed group for a cover crops farm tour and seafood lunch
9amÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Fazenda Boa Terra produce farm (Lidia Dungue and John Middleton) 6580 State RdÂ 23, Spring Green
10:15amÂ Â Walk to Michael Dollans’ inter-seeded cover crops, State Rd 23
11:15am Â Â Uplands Cheese dairy farm (Scott and Illana Mericka and Andy and Caitlin Hatch), 5023 State Rd 23 N, Dodgeville
The farm tour will be followed by lunch at Uplands Cheese Farm.
Come discuss cover crop practices for fresh market produce, grain and dairy systems. See no-till drilling irrigation, manure management, and other strategies to conserve soil and nutrients. Then enjoy brats and seafood caught by fishermen in the Gulf – whose challenges with nutrient build-up and biological die-off in the Gulf Dead Zone we seek to help through out conservation practices.
There is no fee, but please RSVP by Thursday, October 5 at http://bit.ly/covercroptourlunch or contacting Margaret Krome, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (608) 283-1440, firstname.lastname@example.org or Gene Schriefer, Iowa County Extension (608) 930-9850.
Co-sponsored by: MFAI, Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, Iowa County Farm Bureau, Iowa County Land Conservation Department, The McKnight Foundation, MOSES, Organic Valley, Savanna Institute, Southwest Badger RC&D, UW Extension, DATCP, UW-CIAS