MINNEAPOLIS — Join farmer Robert Pierce as he shares his expertise building soil health on his farm, Half the 40 Acres, south of Madison and learn about various programs and opportunities to enhance conservation practices on your land. The field day takes place Wed. Sept. 14 from 4 to 6 p.m. and is free to attend. This event is open to farmers of all experience levels as well as anyone interested in conservation and organic agriculture and will provide information and resources as well as opportunities to connect with representatives from Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA).
“For me, it’s pretty simple; everything starts with healthy soil. To grow good food you need good soil and that has always been my priority here on the farm,” shares Robert Pierce, owner of Half the 40 Acres. Born and raised on Madison’s south side, Pierce has been growing and selling organic produce and managing the South Madison Farmers’ Market for over 20 years. Robert is a long-standing community leader and advocate in the development of sustainable locally grown food systems and runs Neighborhood Food Solutions to connect people with their food source.
At the event, attendees can see Pierce’s new high tunnel and gain information on potential NRCS EQIP funding for such farm enhancements as well as tour his growing fields and composting operation.
This field day is part of Conservation Connections, a project led by Renewing the Countryside (RTC) in partnership with NRCS and FSA with a mission to support historically underserved farmers in Wisconsin and Minnesota and build connections between these farmers and resource support. The project uniquely utilizes a “boots in the field” team of over fifteen Connectors, including Pierce, to assist these farmers to tap into information and opportunities that support conservation and soil health to create a more successful farm business.
“Conservation Connections provides support to historically underserved farmer groups including African Americans, Asian, Latino, Indigenous, veterans and beginning farmers,” shares Jan Joannides, executive director of Renewing the Countryside and lead on this project. “Our goal is to use farmer-to-farmer education like this field day to help expand awareness of programs and resources available through the NRCS and FSA that foster more successful farm businesses and at the same time steward the land.”
Experts from NRCS and FSA will be on hand to answer questions on various programs, including conservation enhancements and loan programs for beginning farmers to access land, including John White, State Outreach Coordinator, NRCS; Katie Demrow, State Outreach Coordinator, FSA and Pattie Haack, Soil Conservationist – Dane County, NRCS, Diane Mayerfeld, North Central SARE & UW-Madison Extension. Additional partners include Groundwell Conservancy.
Event runs from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Pierce making remarks at 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. This event is free to attend for anyone interested, especially farmers, landowners, educators and conservationists are welcome, especially beginning farmers. Snacks will be provided featuring sampling from Pierce’s harvest. If you would like interpretation services, please contact Lisa Kivirist ideally a week in advance: firstname.lastname@example.org; 773-706-4150.
Please register at: https://www.renewingthecountryside.org/conservation_connections. Walk-ins are also welcome.
Farm location for Sept. 14:
Half the 40 Acres, 4879 Goodland Park Rd, Fitchburg, WI, 53575
Event will be held outside with plenty of room for social distancing.
Renewing the Countryside is a nonprofit organization that works to strengthen rural areas by championing and supporting rural communities, farmers, artists, entrepreneurs, educators, activists and other people who are renewing the countryside through sustainable and innovative initiatives, businesses, and projects. The Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota advances environmental stewardship, economic resilience and strong, diverse communities through farmer-to-farmer networking, education, demonstration and research. This project is made possible with funding support from NRCS and FSA.
— Renewing the Countryside