Advice from Matt Zoshke, an organizer of Wisconsin’s largest agricultural enterprise area (AEA): Be willing to work with the farmers in your area and understand their concerns. That and a lot of cooperative, creativity and hard work went into establishment of the Heart of America’s Dairyland AEA in Clark and Marathon counties. It also didn’t hurt that Zoshke, the Clark County conservationist, has a farm background and is well-known in the agriculture community.
“Leave a legacy, not a liability.” That’s the motto at Brooks Farms in Waupaca, the 2013 Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association’s Conservation Farmer of the Year. The fifth-generation farm family adheres to the motto daily, with an array of soil and water conservation practices, energy conservation, wildlife habitat enhancement and other sustainability efforts.
Jimmy Bramblett is Wisconsin’s new Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservationist. He replaces Patricia Leavenworth, who retired in 2012 this year after 18 years of service as state conservationist.
The Natural Heritage Land Trust has been on the cutting edge of farmland protection in Wisconsin for more than a decade. Executive Director Jim Welsh says the Madison-based land trust follows a simple formula: Partnering with local governments to accomplish mutual goals.
Many groups and individuals helped make Wisconsin’s new Working Lands Initiative a reality. Two Waupaca County Extension agents played crucial roles, both in their home county and in the state.
The Koepke family of rural Waukesha County has been a voice for farmland preservation for a long time. With Wisconsin’s still-new Working Lands Initiative in place, they’re finally seeing the fruits of their labors.