Southwestern Wisconsin Agriculture Place-Based Workshop

May 19 - 21, 2008
Readstown, WI

Thanks to the generosity of the Nelson Institute, CHE was able to organize a place-based workshop focused on agricultural landscapes of Southwestern Wisconsin from May 19 to 21, 2008.

The goals of this workshop were to explore the many facets of the region's environmental history, to meet with area residents to learn how they engage with their places, and to build community among CHE members. We were fortunate enough to have Lynne Heasley of Western Michigan University and a graduate of the UW History program join us on the trip and share her expertise on the Kickapoo Valley, based on her book A Thousand Pieces of Paradise. We stayed at the Crooked River Resort in Readstown, WI, and visited Cottonwood Dairy (large dairy near Wiota), the Ho-Chunk Bison Range, Uplands Cheese, the Kickapoo reserve (includes canoeing), Organic Valley cooperative, an Amish farm near Viroqua, and more!


Monday, May 19 We departed Madison at 7:30 a.m. and drove through Madison vernacular architecture sites to Cottonwood Farm in Wiota, where we observed a large-scale dairy operation on a tour led by Jim Winn. We lunched on pasties at the Red Rooster restaurant in Mineral Point, followed by conversation with Iowa County Extension Agent Rhonda Gildersleeve. In the afternoon, we visited Uplands Cheese, a rotational grazing dairy and cheese-making operation, and the Ho Chunk Nation's Bison Range in Muscoda. We arrived in Readstown at the cabins and ate dinner at the Kickapoo Inn restaurant.

Tuesday, May 20 After breakfast at the cabins, we spent the morning at the Kickapoo Reserve, enjoying a conversation with Ho-Chunk representative Bill Quackenbush and a geologic history tour and hike with Chuck Hatfield. We then had a great lunch at the Driftless Cafe in Viroqua, followed by an afternoon with Sam Skemp, Vernon County NRCS District Conservationist. He took us on a tour through the historic soil conservation area at Coon Valley and to meet Richard de Wilde at Harmony Valley Farms. We drove through the apple orchards of Gays Mills and through Soldier's Grove before returning to the Crooked River Resort for a home-cooked meal.

Wednesday, May 21 In the morning, we toured the farm of Amish family Monroe and Mary Hershberger, led by Kathy Kuderer of Down a Country Road. We had lunch at Organic Valley Corporate Headquarters in La Farge. Then, in the afternoon, we set out on an epic canoe trip down the Kickapoo River before returning to Madison.

To get a better idea of how the trip went, check out photos from the 2008 Place-Based Workshop.