Welcome back!

Nearly a year has passed since our eloquent blogger, Mark Sieffert, and his gifted wife CeCe,  graduated and left Madison for further Adventures in Sustainability. We’ve missed their good works on behalf of the Driftless Region and our broader community, yet much has happened in the months following their departure.

We’ve made considerable progress on our work investigating transportation systems for regional and local food markets working with Alfonso Morales (Urban and Regional Planning).  Rosa Kozub took the lead on a first set of cases detailing some of the issues embedded in regional food transportation. Check out the report. David Nelson joined our staff and began where Rosa left off – investigating ways that farmers interested in regional markets could make use of transportation and logistics tools created for national scale distribution. We also started partnering with the Land Stewardship Project to help farmers determine their cost of transportation. David and I have since given numerous presentations on this topic to diverse audiences. We look forward to another year’s work on this project.

Brady Williams, with his faculty advisor Sam Dennis (Landscape Architecture)  joined us this year to work with hazelnut growers and informing the development of  a  processing industry for their product. As you may know, the Driftless is home to the most diverse pool of wild hazelnut genetics. It is also home to many farmers interested in agroforestry and dabbling in hazelnut production. Brady is currently developing case studies of other similar businesses to guide growers in starting this new industry off on solid footing.

Caitlin Henning, advised by Jane Collins (Community and Environmental Sociology),  joined our team in pursuit of artisan meat. She is organizing a meeting in the Driftless with farmers and processors to discuss issues of concern in raising, finishing, and processing. This summer she plans to spend time with farmers in Spain to learn about the Black Iberian pig and hazelnut finishing. She will then be making an interlocal connection between artisan producers in Spain and the Driftless.

The Driftless Food and Farming Project was featured in the Fall 2011 issue of Edible Madison, thanks to our friend, Jessica Luhning. Check it out.

We’ve made some great connections in Illinois, with the Driftless Area Initiative, and in Dubuque. We’ve added more than 100 people to our list of food system creators in the Region. I gave some variation of this presentation to a number of new audiences.

Plans for this summer include 4 workshops in the Region to develop the Driftless story, artisan meat opportunities, and transportation options.

Partner with us on your pet project. Invite us to participate at your up-coming events. Commit to creative, authentic innovation.

And tell us your stories. Let’s learn together.