Knowing Your Roots

Posts tagged ‘Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association’

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…)

Water is the Most Precious Resource for Wisconsin’s Potato and Vegetable Growers

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Water use is a critical issue in central Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), as well as its grower members are committed to the judicious use of this most precious resource.

WPVGA formed The Water Task Force in 2009 to bring together resources and expertise to foster the sustainable use of water resources in the Central Sands. The committee was also formed to develop and promote responsible water use practices that will protect the groundwater aquifer of the Central Sands and its associated streams, lakes and wetlands.

The goal of the Wisconsin potato and vegetable growers is to do this in a way that ensures a sustainable agricultural industry for future generations, fosters vibrant rural communities and respects the needs of all its citizens.

The WPVGA Water Task Force has already made remarkable progress in advancing all of its objectives. For example, to increase understanding of the hydrology of the Central Sands, the Task Force has initiated a program to measure groundwater depths in privately-owned irrigation wells across space and time. They have purchased and installed equipment to continuously monitor groundwater in four areas designated as high risk for surface water impacts. They have also commissioned and funded a study by the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey to expand understanding of tunnel channel lakes in high risk areas and their interaction with groundwater–this study has since expanded into a significant modeling project funded by NRCS.   (more…)

From Field to Fork: We all have a stake in a healthy food supply

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Today’s consumers desire to understand the health and nutritional benefits of the produce they buy. That’s why the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), an industry-wide effort aimed at creating a quick and efficient traceability process by electronically tracking produce from the farm fields to supermarket shelves, is vital.

The purpose of PTI is to protect overall consumer health and safety ― an initiative that we at Alsum Farms & Produce, Inc., are involved in and committed to as a Wisconsin potato farmer. The traceability system provides Alsum and other grower’s quick visibility from the packed product back to the farm and field through a lot numbering system to ensure a healthy and nutritious Wisconsin potato.

“As a Wisconsin potato and vegetable grower, we are embracing the new initiative and putting the technologies in place to provide consumers more knowledge and confidence in their potato offerings at the supermarket,” says Larry Alsum, President & CEO of Alsum Farms & Produce. “Alsum Farms & Produce became PTI compliant on December 1, 2013.”

The initiative utilizes GS1 system standards to standardize product information, case level tracking, and electronic recordkeeping to provide traceability from farm to store. The use of standards across the produce industry enhances the ability to narrow the impact of potential recalls or similar issues, protecting both consumers and supply chain members.

The good news is potatoes are rarely consumed raw and as a result, have been classified in the low-risk food-safety category. Yet, consumer health, safety, trust, satisfaction, and loyalty are necessary and important for every supplier to be proactive.

Like Alsum, Wisconsin potato growers, packers and shippers recognize this importance and have taken the Produce Traceability Initiative a step further. With the coordination and assistance of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), the Wisconsin potato industry has conducted education and training sessions to create a common understanding, utilizing a consistent software program and resources to share co-packer product information. This approach has allowed Wisconsin growers, packers and shippers to implement a standardize traceability process and best practices to meet the growing demand for value-added produce.

Consumer’s interest to connect with the farmer and understand today’s farming practices is growing. The Produce Traceability Initiative provides infrastructure, transparency and allows the industry to help provide consumers accurate information about the many health benefits of produce, the advances in technology and sound practices used in bringing wholesome produce to the market.

Behind the Scenes: Working together to protect our water—The Little Plover River

Blog 29Harvesting the bounty of the Central Sands is already underway –peas and snap beans are on the way to consumer’s plates and sweet corn, potatoes and carrots are just around the corner.  As we watch and enjoy this remarkable productivity unfold, it is a good time to reflect on what makes it all possible. The Central Sands themselves and the underlying aquifer of groundwater laid down by glaciers 25,000 years ago and constantly recharged by rainfall, snowmelt / runoff are the corner stones in the foundation. Maintaining the delicate balance between the water resource and the needs of everyone who uses and depends on it is an ongoing challenge that we all must be a part of so future generations will enjoy the benefits of this unique area.
One particular area of focus is the Little Plover River watershed in northern Portage County. The Little Plover is a trout stream and an important drainage outlet that meanders its way westward from its headwaters east of the ancient Johnstown glacial moraine through wetlands, woods, farmland, and the homes, parks, businesses, and industries of the bustling Village of Plover to its confluence at the Wisconsin River south of Stevens Point. In recent years, the Little Plover has experienced highs and lows, which have ranged from flooding and ruined basements in some years to reduced flows in others. Although the little stream has persevered through it all and remains a great place to fish and enjoy the outdoors, everyone who lives in the watershed is concerned about its future and is working to secure it.   (more…)

Stepping Up to the Plate: Wisconsin Farmers Provide the Resources to Tackle Water Issues in Central Wisconsin

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Few now question that our planet’s resources are being challenged by our relentless population growth, and yet most of us are unable to do anything meaningful to address these far reaching issues. Water is among the most precious of these resources, and farmers in all parts of the world are struggling to find ways to use water more wisely while preserving its availability for future generations. Nowhere is this more evident than in Wisconsin’s Central Sands—one of the most productive potato and vegetable growing areas in the US, which depends on irrigation to produce the food that is needed to provide food security for the nation. The water needed for irrigation is drawn from an extensive aquifer (underlying several counties) that was formed in glacial times and has been replenished annually by rainfall and snow melt for over a half century. Evidence in recent years, however, suggests that water levels in parts of the aquifer may be declining and that this is adversely impacting some of the surface water lakes and streams connected to the groundwater. The reasons for this are complex and may be related to a combination of factors including shifting rainfall patterns, extending growing seasons, the need to irrigate more to meet increasing crop demand, and expanding rural communities and industries.

The potato and vegetable growers in the Central Sands are not content to debate causes, and they have united to proactively seek solutions. In 2011, the growers joined forces with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service and researchers from several University of Wisconsin departments to launch a major new Conservation Innovation Grant to examine ways to use water more efficiently. This 3-year landmark study “Preserving water resources in Central Wisconsin” was awarded $700,000 in competitive federal funding AND the award required matching funds from farmers to become a reality. This is where the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association and the Midwest Food Processors Association stepped to the plate and hit a bases loaded home run by pledging a whopping $634,000 to secure the funds. This is money raised annually from grower-members and demonstrates the commitment these growers have to the future. The grant is now entering its 3rd year and is already justifying every penny of investment.   (more…)

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