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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Spring 2019 ??????????? – Director’s Blog

I read an article last week that stated the spring of 2019 was one of the coldest and wettest springs in 30+ years. As I look out my office window at another day of cloudy skies and 50-degree temperatures it is not hard to believe. Usually by Mother’s Day the asparagus and rhubarb are growing by leaps and bounds and those beautiful May flowers are out in all their glory. Not so much this year, as the growing season continues to be delayed and we see farmers through-out the Midwest struggle to get crops in the ground and find water still standing in many of the fields.

Here at MFAI we are struggling just like everyone else! We have had some success planting a small acreage of barley, cover crop trials and a few acres of alfalfa. We have yet to plant any of our organic corn research plots, industrial hemp cultivars or soybeans into spring seeded rye. 2019 is shaping up to be another difficult year for Wisconsin agriculture, but we also know Wisconsin farmers are strong and resilient and are up to this challenge.

I recently attended a memorial service for Betty Phelps-Refior, a great friend and generous benefactor to MFAI. Betty was 97 years young and her smile and early morning walks were an inspiration to all of us who knew her. Her two favorite subjects were Honeybees and Bluebirds, but she was always up to speed on current events, organic agriculture or just about any subject you wanted to discuss. She lived a fulfilling life that included participating in the Great Peace March of 1986 walking from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. and several peace marches in other countries. I will miss our discussions about bees, pollinators and organic agriculture, but I am sure her spirit is soaring with and her treasured bluebirds.

As I close out this month’s blog, I also want to thank Devon Hamilton for all the great work he has done at MFAI with educating urban youth about agriculture and entrepreneurship, helping establish the Iowa County Watershed group and being part of the changing face of Wisconsin agriculture. In a few weeks, Devon is moving back to Los Angeles to be closer to family and plans to utilize his skills to help urban youth on the West Coast. He will be missed, but we support this change and wish him the best as he continues to follow his chosen path.

As always, we appreciate your continued interest and support of Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and our mission to grow healthy soils and sustainable organic communities.

Perry Brown, Executive Director