Nelson Institute partnership with South Madison farmer featured in Wisconsin Public Television show

September 1, 2016

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Public Television have partnered for "Wisconsin's Homegrown Farmer," a program about the challenges facing a new generation of farmers that will begin airing Sept. 8.

The show features three Wisconsin farm families and their unique approaches to making modern farming a success. Working beside UW-Madison researchers, each family's passion and commitment shines through as they work to continue the legacy of family farming in Wisconsin.

Among those featured are Madison farmer Robert Pierce and Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies doctoral student Dadit Hidayat.

Pierce wants to provide fresh, safe, affordable food to his urban community at the South Madison Farmers' Market. He became an organic farmer and manages a neighborhood farmer's market to help him achieve that goal

But the needs of Pierce’s community go beyond access to good food. Through a partnership with the Nelson Institute, Pierce has created an urban agriculture-training program for ex-felons from his neighborhood. Helping to provide this career path for ex-felons benefits the entire community.

This collaboration with the Nelson Institute is part of a series of undergraduate environmental studies capstone courses launched in 2014 that is designed to improve food justice in Madison’s south neighborhoods. Students will continue the mission in three subsequent semesters of classes, funded by the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment and a Plan4Health grant.

Hidayat, who studies community-university partnerships and how best to translate academic knowledge to community action, says the perspective that community partners like Pierce can offer to students is invaluable. “Partnering with Robert allows us to connect more with reality,” he says.

"Wisconsin's Homegrown Farmer" can be seen at:

Käri Knutson and Melanie Ginsburg contributed to this story.