Farmers, Fishermen, Michael Fields & Wisconsin Foodie
January 31, 2018
The big snowfall held off long enough on the evening of February 8 for a large gathering to enjoy a delicious reception of Gulf shrimp and Strauss Brands grassfed beef sliders and delicious mead from The Hive Taproom, East Troy’s soon-to-open meadery. We gathered to watch the Wisconsin Foodie episode on Wisconsin Public Television, featuring MFAI’s work connecting conservation farmers in SW Wisconsin with fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico, whose livelihoods depend on the quality of water coming off our lands. Nutrient-heavy water from the Upper Midwest travels down the Mississippi River to the Gulf and creates a “Dead Zone,” lacking any aquatic life. Conservation farmers such as those in this Uplands Watershed in Iowa County, help remedy the problem when they keep lands covered with cover crops, permanent pastures, and small grains, install grassed waterways to intercept runoff or use no-till planters to minimize soil loss.
At our gathering, we were delighted that Paul Bickford joined us; a farmer in the Uplands Watershed group featured in the Wisconsin Foodie episode, Bickford also participated in the trip to the Louisiana Bayou last Spring. Both Bickford and Agri-View journalist Lynn Grooms, who also joined our 2017 Bayou trip, shared insights from the trip. Mark Boyce with Strauss Brands, explained how their grassfed beef company is developing a way for consumers to support Gulf-friendly farming practices with Strauss’s “One Pound Challenge,” which encourages consumers to buy grass-fed beef, since permanent pastures can help water infiltrate into the soil rather than running off with nutrients that end up in the Gulf.
MFAI salutes our great conservation farmer collaborators, the fishermen we’ve come to care about in the Gulf, partners like Strauss, the Wisconsin Foodie producers and staff, the caterer, Toothpicks Catering LLC, and the intrepid supporters of sustainable agriculture (and of delicious shrimp and beef!) who came out in the snow to celebrate this project.