Wisconsin’s Homegrown Farmer Showcases How Collaboration and Agriculture Go Hand in Hand

August 29, 2016

For More Information:

Jonna Mayberry, WPT publicist, 608-263-3364, jonnatha.mayberry@wpt.org

Grant Fenster, WPT producer, 608-263-5503, grant.fenster@wpt.org

Wisconsin’s Homegrown Farmer Showcases How Collaboration and Agriculture Go Hand in Hand

Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) and University Communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) present a look at how Wisconsin farmers are collaborating with university researchers and specialists in the premiere broadcast of Wisconsin’s Homegrown Farmer at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8.

Wisconsin’s Homegrown Farmer explores the changing faces of agriculture through the stories of three Wisconsin farm families. The new program highlights the challenges these families face and how they’re adjusting to modern farming with assistance from educators at UW-Madison.

Wisconsin’s Homegrown Farmer illustrates each family’s passion and perseverance as they continue the legacy of family farming in Wisconsin. “You have your doctor. You have your lawyer. You have to have your farmer,” says Stoney Acres Farms’ Tony Schultz.

Farm families profiled in the program include:

Tony Schultz and Kat Becker: Stoney Acres Farms, Athens. Kat and Tony transitioned Tony’s family’s once-defunct dairy farm into an organic vegetable farm. They have ensured the farms’ sustainability by growing a variety of crops and undertaking an assortment of ventures including pizza nights, CSAs and even maple syrup production. “Our main thing now is vegetables, but we like maple syrup because it fits in seasonally to the work regime,” says Tony. “We don’t put all our eggs in one basket.” With their varied approach and help from UW-Madison Plant Pathologist Ruth Genger, the pair have created a prosperous farm.

Robert Pierce: South Madison Farmers' Market, Madison. Pierce is fulfilling his dream of providing fresh, safe, affordable food to his urban community. Pierce grew up at a time when flourishing community gardens were prevalent in Madison. “You never knew you were poor, because you always had food,” he recalls. After leaving Madison to serve in Vietnam, however, he found upon his return to Madison that the once-flourishing gardens were untended and residents were having difficulty accessing fresh produce. His desire to provide garden-fresh food to his neighborhood motivated Pierce to become an organic farmer and manage the South Madison Farmers’ Market. Through a partnership with UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Robert has expanded upon his dream of helping his community, creating an urban agriculture training program for ex-felons. Of the partnership, The Nelson Institute’s Dadit Hidayat says, “Not only is [Pierce] knowledgeable, but he has experienced first-hand the complexity of limited food access in his community.”

Lloyd and Daphne Holterman: Rosy-Lane Holsteins, Watertown. The Holtermans want to have the healthiest herd of cows possible. The longtime Wisconsin dairy farmers weathered the challenging agricultural era of the 1980s — seeing their land’s value plummet by 60 percent — but have always held onto the idea that a herd of healthy, productive cows could help pull them through difficult times. They are now committed to collaborating with UW dairy science researchers — including UW-Madison’s Weigel — for healthier cows, and have seen great success from this collaboration. “Those cows are everything to us,” says Lloyd. “Everything we’ve worked for and everything we have is wrapped up in those cows.”

Together, these stories of three different Wisconsin farm families, the variety of approaches they take, and their collaborations with UW-Madison specialists demonstrate the changing landscape of farming in Wisconsin and how applying the agricultural lessons of the past can help produce a more successful farming future.

Wisconsin’s Homegrown Farmer is produced through a partnership between WPT and University Communications at UW-Madison. Full video of the program will be available for free at the time of broadcast for on-demand viewing at wpt.org.

Wisconsin Public Television is a place to grow through learning on WHA-TV, Madison; WPNE-TV, Green Bay; WHRM-TV, Wausau; WLEF-TV, Park Falls; WHLA- TV, La Crosse; and WHWC-TV, Menomonie-Eau Claire.

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