Seed Money Available for 2020 Projects

We are happy to announce that we are again seeking applications for Seed Money for initiatives that support our mission and address the issues raised in our Listening/Networking Sessions held in early 2018. We are accepting applications for projects in the following counties: Green, Iowa, Lafayette, Grant, Sauk, Crawford, Vernon and Richland.

Since we first announced this program last fall we have awarded a total of $8,595 to 6 Southwestern Wisconsin initiatives. Descriptions of the projects we have supported are provided below.

Download our Application for Seed Money (PDF) (WORD) document which explains the program in more detail. If you are interested in applying know that the amount of funding per project ranges from $1200 to $1500. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2019. Awardees will be notified by December 15, 2019. More information is provided on the application form.

We are grateful to you for passing this information along to others whose projects you feel meet our criteria.

Regenerative Agriculture Event a Success

Grant County Rural Stewardship (GCRS) reports that the program they sponsored in late March 2019 was both well received and worthwhile. Entitled “Farmer to Farmer: Regenerative Agriculture”, GCRS in conjunction with co-sponsors UW-Platteville School of Agriculture, UW-Platteville Sustainability, Crawford Stewardship Project and Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network planned the event in an effort to reduce tensions between conventional, organic and Amish farmers and educate them on the value of Regenerative Agriculture.

The 3-hour event on Saturday, March 30, 2019 on the UW-Platteville Campus brought 70 people with a high percentage being farmers. The keynote speaker, Dan Shelliam, showed slides from his Hazel Green farm highlighting the positive effects of using Regenerative Agriculture practices such as no-till planting, perennial cover crops and grazing.

Following Dan’s talk a panel of experts comprised of Tom Hamm, another local farmer using RA practices, Daniel H. Smith, UW-Madison, John Kvigne, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, Joshua Kamps, UW Division of Extension and Andrew Cartmill, Ph. D., UW-Platteville. Moderator Gary Munson kept the conversation moving and fielded questions from a very engaged group of attendees. Questions were thought-provoking and responses informative as farmers shared their views on the pros and cons of Regenerative Agriculture.

During the breaks, attendees were able to network with each other and visit display tables for four organizations: Crawford Stewardship Project, Driftless Defenders, Food, Faith and Farming Network and Sinsinawa Mound Collaborative Farm. Attendees were provided a Resources list including several organizations involved with Regenerative Agriculture as well as websites to peruse for more details. On the evaluation forms, attendees encouraged GCRS to offer more programs in the future. Topics they were interested in learning more about included: agroforestry, cover crops, intensive rotational grazing, holistic grazing, agricultural impacts on watersheds/ground water, carbon sequestration and many more.

More 2019 Seed Money Projects

In addition to the Grant County Rural Stewardship project, we are supporting 5 other projects. Following are short descriptions of the projects.

Southwest Wisconsin Grasslands Network
The Southwest Wisconsin Grasslands Network (SWGN) is a partnership of federal and state agencies and non-profit organizations committed to conservation and stewardship of natural resources in Iowa, Grant and Lafayette counties. Project partners include: Driftless Area Land Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; other agencies and organizations are expected to join the partnership as it unfolds over time.

The Southwest Wisconsin Grasslands Network is initiating a campaign, Landowner(s) Matters, designed to ascertain information about landowner values and interests, and the barriers that landowners in Iowa, Grant, and Lafayette Counties face in implementing conservation practices. This partnership-landowner effort will develop effective, values-based outreach with the purpose of increasing landowner engagement in conservation of grassland habitat for declining grassland bird populations. 

To date, our support has enabled SWGN to conduct 12 interviews with civic leaders and resource professionals across the region and provide local refreshments at two Women Caring for the Land Events, field days for women land/farm owners to discuss integrating conservation practices into land/farm management.  Over the next few months SWGN will conduct a survey of all residents in two important conservation areas within Southwest Wisconsin and offer another Women Caring for the Land Event.  

Crawford County Farmers Markets Grow
This project connects and transports elderly and low-income residents to the Gays Mills and Prairie du Chien Farmer’s Markets in Southwestern Wisconsin. The goal of the project is to help integrate elderly and low-income residents into the wider community, give them a chance to purchase fresh-picked produce and provide farm vendors with greater income by offering them a larger pool of consumers for their products. The local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) will provide their van to transport people (covering the cost of vans, gas and maintenance) and project monies will be used to pay drivers for transporting people to the Gays Mills and Prairie du Chien markets. Involved organizations include: Crawford County Farmers Market Grow, Inc., Gays Mills Farmer's Market, Prairie Street Farmer's Market, Aging & Disability Resource Center of Eagle Country, Royal Bank of Gays Mills, Seneca and Gays Mills Lions Clubs, Coulee CAP of Southwest Wisconsin, and Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin.

Boscobel Farmer’s Market
Networking with community groups, the Boscobel Farmer’s Market has created a voucher system to be provided to local impoverished residents. They set voucher amounts at $5 and the vouchers are being distributed through The Tuffley Center, Boscobel Housing Authority and Southwest Wisconsin Community Action Program. To date 137 of the 300 vouchers have been redeemed. The voucher can be used for items sold at the Boscobel Farmer’s Market. New customers who have never previously attended a market expressed how grateful they were to be able to purchase fresh produce that they would not otherwise be able to afford. Free transportation is available to people in need from the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Grant Co. to the market.

Wormfarm Institute
Bridging the divide between rural and urban through food, art and ideas, Wormfarm Insitute is advancing collaborative projects and events in and between Sauk and Milwaukee Counties.  Rural and urban partners will come together at Farm Aid Music Festival on Sept 21 at Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, WI with an interactive music project called Earthtones and a mural weaving project that will collect well used work clothes from farmers and urban gardeners/ eaters, cut into strips and woven together on two 7x6 foot looms. After Farm Aid, components of this project will be reactivated in both Milwaukee and at Fermentation Fest in Reedsburg in October.

Hill and Valley Exploration Tour
Hill and Valley Exploration Tour: a Celebration of Rural Living, is a hands-on, direct market opportunity that provides community visitors the opportunity to talk directly with local farmers and experience rural life first hand. In their third year, the group will sponsor a kick-off event on Sept 8 in collaboration with Edgewood College. The event will showcase a trail of picture frames through the countryside the goal of which is to draw ecotourists to the area and bring attention to the Tour.

The Tour is a cooperative venture of rural farms, businesses, historic sites, educational institutes and artist studios, striving to connect rural venues with consumers, cooperatively advertise for economic development, assist young farmers, and provide hands-on education about agriculture. This flyer provides details on this year’s Tour the first two weekends of October.