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  • Writer's pictureKriss Marion

And Now It's Spring! Join us for our "Digging into Soil" events across the state!

As of 4:24pm today, it's Spring in Wisconsin! Happy Vernal Equinox! Of course, the official start of the season may not mean the temperature is cooperating, it just means the sun shines directly on the celestial equator passing from south to north and the length of day and night are almost the same. In other words - we're on our way to the growing season.

We at WiWiC are ready with in-person events starting in just two weeks. We hope you'll join us somewhere soon. We are kicking off the 2023 event season with two Spring Conservation Gatherings the first week of April. The topic for both is “Digging into Soil.”

The first event will be in the Southeast region of the state on April 4, from 11:30am to 3:30pm, at the Urban Ecology Center – Menomonee Valley, 3700 W. Pierce Street, Milwaukee. All women farmers, landowners, gardeners and conservationists from the Walworth, Racine, Milwaukee, and surrounding counties are welcome to attend-- whatever their background, from beginners to experts. Registration is free, but necessary for the lunch order. Space is limited. RSVP by clicking the link below.

Rhiannon Holden, Resource Conservationist with NRCS in Milwaukee County

Rhiannon Holden, conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Kristin Loock, the Milwaukee County Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency, will discuss and demonstrate soil health practices appropriate for both farms and gardens, as well as programs available to help plan, fund, and implement those practices.

“Soil conservation is the cornerstone of food security,” says Holden. “You can’t implement something you don’t understand, so understanding soil health is imperative if we are going to improve fertility, infiltration, and general soil quality.”

The second event will be in the Southwest region of the state on April 7, from 1-4:30pm, at B & E’s Trees Forest Foraged Foods and Farm near Cashton, which produces Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup and Embark Good Energy pouches. Women farmers, landowners, gardeners and conservationists from the Vernon, Crawford, Grant and surrounding counties are encouraged to attend. Registration is FREE, but required because snacks are provides. RSVP by clicking the graphic below.

At this gathering participants will learn about soil from the way it feels and smells, and explore how management should account for texture. Attendees are encouraged to bring small trowel-sized samples of their own soil to analyze. This event will also include a Syrup Walk of the maple forest led by B & E’s Trees co-owner Bree Breckel, who is a Wisconsin Women in Conservation coach.

Other conservation experts who will be available at the event are Harriet Behar, of Sweet Springs Farm in Crawford County, who is also a WiWiC Conservation Coach, and Laura Bybee, who is with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Vernon County. They will lead a discussion of practices and resources that support long-term land health, including integrated agroforestry.

"The farm is on a fairly steep hillside. There's a 350-foot drop in elevation from the ridgetop sugar house to the valley floor. While this would be poor land for most farming, the steep hillside allows B&E's to use gravity to run the syrup from the tree taps directly downhill through a system of tubing,” explains Breckel.

WiWiC events follow a Learning Circle model, with ample time and a safe space for story sharing, networking and collaborative learning. These Spring gatherings will use both indoor and outside spaces, so participants should dress for the weather. Events are family-friendly and children are welcome. Some independent kids’ activities will be available.

Later in April, we're hosting our first-ever WiWiC Educators Conference! Join us for "Lighting the Fire with Women Landowners" on April 28. This non-traditional gathering will pull together educators, both men and women, from all over the state who are interested in getting conservation education and resources to women landowners, farmers, gardeners and urban growers. Registration is live now, and is just $25 until April 1.

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Sound like fun and educational events, but why are they all held during the week? Some of us work full-time and during the week just won't work for me.

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We have 40 events planned this year, and we'll schedule some on the weekends. Please check back!

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