Knowing Your Roots

Posts tagged ‘Healthy Grown’

Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Grant and In-Store Promotions for Healthy Grown® Potatoes

The Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) is working on expanding in-state sales and recognition of Healthy Grown potatoes – certified as  ecologically grown, socially responsible,  and ecosystem friendly – and they taste great – what a bargain!

This promotion was made possible thanks to a grant awarded from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection agency’s “Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin” program.

This grant is helping the WPVGA publicize the Wisconsin Healthy Grown program and feature its ecologically grown fresh potatoes, which have put Wisconsin on the leading edge of sustainable potato production.

The Wisconsin Healthy Grown program started in 2000 with a strictly enforced, research-based production standard that differentiated these potatoes from others in the marketplace by its reliance on biologically-based approaches to managing pests. It has since expanded to encompass all aspects of sustainability, including environmentally sound production practices, a fair economic return to growers, social responsibility in the rural communities where the potatoes are grown and, most recently, a requirement to restore natural ecosystems on farms.    (more…)

Advertisements

Wisconsin Healthy Grown® – Leading the way for high-bar sustainability standards

Blog 10

Striving for sustainability, particularly in the marketplace, is something most people desire but what exactly does it mean?

Sustainability is a process of producing something that balances the environmental, societal and economic needs for the good of everyone.

Here at New Family Farm, we understand the need to preserve the environmental integrity of the grower’s fields, the ecological services they provide and the landscapes of which they are a part.

We recognize the societal role that our farms play in fostering local communities by providing employment and opportunities for those who live there.

We know farmers need to be economically solvent, to remain in business and continue to grow the food we all depend on. Balancing all of these factors is what sustainability really means!   (more…)

Land Ethic & Central WI Vegetable Growers

Blog 4_2Blog 4Land stewardship—that heart felt love of our open, green areas, interspersed with crops that are so essential in maintaining our rural landscapes. We all want to be land stewards but what does that term mean to farmers in Central Wisconsin who own many of these lands?

Wisconsin’s land ethic writings go back to Aldo Leopold, the esteemed author of the Sand County Almanac in which he described Wisconsin’s biodiversity, beauty and ability to integrate landscapes and agriculture.

Although the book was written in 1949, the themes of the book resonate today, especially with farmers who manage both large and small swaths of land and carefully weave together the natural and agricultural areas into biodiverse landscapes.

There is certainly a personal value to land ethic, but the benefits expand beyond private ownership to society at large.   (more…)

Fresh and Local – Wisconsin Potato Growers: Innovators in Sustainability

Blog 51

Central Wisconsin is the prime growing region for Wisconsin potatoes and vegetables; it has it all–pristine landscapes, great outdoor activities, and valuable farmland.  Thankfully, due to the innovative work of the industry, these lands are striving to be sustainable for the long-term.

In 2013, the Wisconsin potato industry developed a proactive approach to document the sustainability of how the growers manage their farms.  Working through the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), in partnership with the National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (NISA), the industry assessed the sustainability of the practices currently used on potato farms throughout the state.  The assessment used an entry-level NISA approach to generate maximum grower engagement in the sustainability arena.  Seventy-one growers returned assessments representing 56,785 acres of potatoes (90% of the total Wisconsin acreage).  Growers from the fresh (20,400 acres), chip (17,900 acres), frozen (10,400 acres), and seed markets (7,400 acres) participated in the assessment to provide an accurate representation of the industry as a whole.  Since the NISA survey process includes a detailed documentation of sustainable practices used by growers across the whole farm enterprise in addition to the potato crop, this assessment represented over 200,000 total farmland acres.

Of the assessed Wisconsin’s potato farms, 100% are family owned with an average of over 53 years farming.  On average, 2 to 3 generations of family members are actively working and involved in the farming operations, which is an encouraging sign for the continuing sustainability of Wisconsin’s vegetable production industry.   (more…)

Fresh and Local – A lifetime of learning: Wisconsin potato growers refine their craft

Blog 45

It’s cold out there on the farm! The snow falls, the wind whistles, and there is just not much you can do to get a jump on the coming season—well, not quite. If you are a Wisconsin potato grower, now is the perfect time to refine your skills and learn something new. Wisconsin already enjoys a well-deserved reputation as national leaders in sustainable potato production. In this new era where consumers are increasingly basing their purchasing choices on how sustainably their food is grown, Wisconsin is already ahead of the pack in adopting the practices that are now in demand. They introduced the nation’s first vegetable eco-label with Healthy Grown™ fresh potatoes over a decade ago and are now reaping the benefits of this foresight. A Wisconsin potato grown using practices that sustain the environment, local economies, and the wellbeing of rural communities, can now stack up against the best potatoes you can produce anywhere, and it’s grown right here in your backyard—no extra food miles needed to travel to get here!

Building that kind of advantage does not come without a huge investment! The Wisconsin potato industry invests over $400,000 every year (no small potatoes!) with research partners from the University of Wisconsin to develop the tools that keep Wisconsin on the cutting edge along with the basic science that underpins those tools. The UW potato research and extension team is unrivaled anywhere in using grower support to generate tens of millions of dollars in additional competitive grant funds to advance the industry.

Funding the research and developing the tools that growers can use are only the first steps.  Working together to implement them is the key to success!  This comes through an intensive and continuing educational process involving on-farm field days, local county meetings and culminates in an annual state-wide Grower Education Conference.  Held during the coldest part of the winter in February, this is the “crown jewel” of the Potato Industry’s education program.  Over 350 growers from Wisconsin and around the nation gather together for three days in Stevens Point, WI.

With temperatures hovering around the zero degree mark this year, pickup trucks jammed the parking areas and surrounding streets of the conference center. The lineup of speakers—from Wisconsin, Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, Iowa, Washington DC and even Cambridge, England—were on hand to share expertise. An amazing array of forty-two speakers from the University of Wisconsin, representing 11 different academic departments, shared research and recommendations covering all aspects of potato production. Theme areas in 2014 included issues impacting groundwater, pest and nutrient management, breeding, variety development, food safety, storage and overall sustainability. The depth and breadth of this research is remarkable!

One key theme throughout the conference was preserving our groundwater resources for future generations. Presentations covered both the basic science underlying water use by crops and natural vegetation along with how this information can be used to model the interactions between the groundwater aquifer and surface lakes and streams. In-depth discussions of potential and ongoing projects that examine the impact of different crop landscapes on water use, as well as new technologies to deliver water precisely and only where and when it is needed were all part of the intense education the Wisconsin growers experienced.

Everyone left tired but brimming with fresh ideas and a renewed enthusiasm to implement the technologies and practices that will keep Wisconsin at the forefront of sustainable production. So, when the next snowstorm races across the state and those farms appear frozen and inactive, remember that the growers aren’t on winter break!

Tag Cloud