Another response to WI Potato & Vegetable Growers Assoc. request for rescue funds for Farming for the Future center

To Dianne Somers, Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association

cc: (County Executive),,,,,,,,

Dear Ms. Somers,

I received your request, the second so far from WI Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, for SLFRF funding (federal relief funds) from Portage County, WI, for the new Farming For the Future Foundation.

Your letter opens with the question of whether young people know where their food comes from, and promises children and families will learn about how their food is grown through various workshops and hands-on exhibits. Because of this youth emphasis, I’m copying my response to various student groups at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. I urge you to incorporate these students into the educational staff of your new educational center.

Last night I attended a workshop organized by UWSP Office of Sustainability, with its director, Dave Barbier, and three student panelists presenting on various aspects of sustainability, and how the principles of sustainability are now being worked into the various course offerings and majors being taught in the various colleges at UWSP (Natural Resources, Letters and Sciences, Professional Studies etc.).

Among the 50 or so student participants I listened to at that forum, all had come away with new insights on the urgency of moving forward on sustainability in all aspects of life in this society.

The WI Potato and Vegetable Growers Association member businesses operate in the intersection of what Simon Michaux calls the “industrial ecosystem” (the global industrial economy) and what PNAS calls the “Earth System” (entangled natural ecosystems). What we can observe in Portage County/The Central Sands region is that the operations of industrial agriculture or what FFF calls “production agriculture” in several ways violate conditions of sustainability. Buildup of chemical nitrates in the groundwater, the loss of organic matter in the soils from excessive tillage (decarbonization), and of course the off-gassing of CO2 to the atmosphere from both the decarbonization and the constant combustion of the hydrocarbons petroleum and natural gas needed to operate industrial ag.

By incorporating student educators into your program you may awaken in younger students (K-12) an interest in the bigger questions beyond just “where does our food come from?” to questions like, “what will our future look like?”

In conclusion, this is just a suggestion to your organization, and you may have already given some thought into how you bring youths themselves into the teaching process. Below my name are the student groups and Sustainability Office addresses for you to reach out to. See the cc addresses at top

Bob Gifford
Portage County Board District 10 (Stevens Point wards, Town of Hull wards, Village of Park Ridge).
Student Orgs–
Students for Sustainability
350 Stevens Point–is the place to be for environmental and social justice education, climate change discussion, and other sustainability issues. We currently focus on UW System Fossil Fuel Divestment and #stopline3 campaigning.
American Water Resources Association
Society for Ecological Restoration UWSP
Soil and Water Conservation Society of America
Wisconsin’s Green Fire – UWSP Student Chapter
Women in Natural Resources