Michael Fields Agricultural Institute logo
At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

I love winter, but!!!!!!!

It’s the middle of February as I write this blog and I can truthfully say that I normally love this time of year. I have never minded shoveling snow, firing up the snowblower or in my younger years hitting the ski slopes and sledding with the kids and grandkids. This is also the time of year when I have the opportunity to attend a number of farm group meetings/conferences, see old ag industry friends and hear all the great new ideas coming down the pipe for organic/sustainable agriculture production. This is also the time of year when we are finalizing our field research plans and looking forward to the first signs of the spring warm-up.

BUT the last 3 weeks have been miserable in my book! First it was record cold (wind chills of -55 below) followed by a quick warm up and rain, followed by sleet and ice and if that wasn’t enough mother nature decided we needed 3 back-to-back-to-back snow storms totaling 20+ inches of snow on top of the ice. Suddenly I want to wrap myself in a blanket, curl up in my easy chair and forget February 2019.

OK, got that off my chest, now I feel much better! We are actually very excited about the 2019 growing season here at MFAI. We will continue to expand our Industrial Hemp research and our collaboration with the USDA/ARS Dairy Forage Research Center and UW-Madison/CIAS on how cover crops are a sustainable option for both organic and conventional farmers. We continue to expand our work with Iowa State University/ARS in developing inbred corn lines that express Gametophytic Incompatibility, a trait which will protect organic hybrids from GMO contamination. In October our new 200+ acre research farm will officially become certified organic allowing us to greatly expand our organic crop research programs in 2020.

On the policy side we continue to support and bring attention to the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone and how our farming practices in the Upper Midwest and in watersheds further down the Mississippi can contribute to this ever-expanding problem that affects the Gulf fishing industry. As we expand our Growing Urban Leaders in Food Systems (GULFS) program we are meeting the demand for more classroom lessons and engaging youth in summer garden and food development programs. As we move into spring, we look to engage with Wisconsin lawmakers on the biennial budget and how we can promote farmland conservation practices through targeted ag funding.

If you are planning to attend the MOSES Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse February 21-23, please stop by our booth (#134) in the Exhibit Hall. The MFAI staff and I look forward seeing you and discussing organic agriculture and/or answering any questions you may have. Not attending MOSES? Visit our website at www.michaelfields.org and explore all that we do at the Institute.

We appreciate your continued interest and support of Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and our mission to grow sustainable organic communities.

Executive Director, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute