News

The latest news on Grassland 2.0, grassland-based agriculture, and sustainable agricultural systems.

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Growing grassland agricluture: New project devoted to expanding opportunities to graze cattle

This story was written by Stacy Smart and was originally published on Dairy Star. It has been republished here.

For grass-based dairy farmer Scott Mericka, grazing is the ideal way to farm. Mericka keeps his 200 cows on pasture year-round, letting them graze 250 days a year starting mid- to late-April on a cereal rye cover crop until early or mid-December eating stockpiled pasture as well as oat, pea, forage, kale and swedes on his dairy near Dodgeville.

“Grazing is an enjoyable and profitable way of farming that rewards you with a high quality of life and less stress,” Mericka said. “If your goal is to have a business that is environmentally and economically sustainable, and you’d like to bring your kids into it someday, then grazing is the way to go.” Wanting to share what he has learned, Mericka joined Grassland 2.0, a new project seeking to foster the growth of grassland agriculture in the upper Midwest.

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Farmers, researchers form Grassland 2.0 to expand beneficial grassland agriculture

This article was written by Grassland 2.0 members Anne Nardi, Jacob Grace and Laura Paine. It was original published in the Organic Broadcaster and has been republished here.

What will it take to make a large-scale shift to perennial grazing systems in the Midwest? Grassland 2.0, a newly formed collaboration based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, aims to find out. The group is bringing together farmers, researchers, state and local agency staff, milk and meat processors, and citizen groups to seek transformative solutions to the social, economic, and environmental challenges facing Midwest food and farming systems. According to the team, the foundation of sustainable landscapes is grasslands. “We’re going to need farming practices that simultaneously produce healthy food, support thriving communities, and restore ecosystem processes. Grazed perennial grasslands do that,” said Randy Jackson, a UW-Madison researcher who leads the project.

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Grassland 2.0 team helped connect art, culture, and the land at the Farm/Art DTour

This past summer the Grassland 2.0 team collaborated with the Wormfarm Institute on their 8th Biennial Farm/Art DTour. The event is a self-guided tour of rural arts and culture through the scenic working farmland of Sauk County, Wisconsin. This year’s event featured a tour through southern Sauk County with trailheads in Plain and Sauk City and a stop at Troy Farm Madison.

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Grassland 2.0 podcast features the stories of graziers and grazing practitioners from across the state

We are excited to announce that Grassland 2.0 has a podcast; it’s called GrassCast! You can find it on Apple Podcasts, wherever you listen to podcasts, or at grasscast.buzzsprout.com.

The podcast features a series of narrative accounts from producers and other grazing practitioners based on interviews conducted by Grassland 2.0 graduate students. Each episode is 20 minutes long and focused on a different theme, including: the social dynamics of grazing, farm labor in grassland-based systems, and intergenerational transitions of long-held family land—just to name a few! Episodes will be released monthly and are currently focusing on grazing leaders from across Wisconsin.

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Farmers and researchers come together to form new group, Grassland 2.0, to grow grassland agriculture

Bert Paris loves farming. After nearly 30 years of operating his dairy farm near Belleville, Wisconsin, Bert is in the process of passing on his farm to his daughter, Meagan. She faces serious challenges: Wisconsin led the nation in farm bankruptcies last year, with an average of two dairy farms per day going out of business. And when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted agricultural supply chains this spring, some farmers were forced to dump their milk as waste.

Despite a growing crisis in the Wisconsin dairy industry and other hardships throughout Midwest farming communities, farmers are continuing to seek opportunities to continue their legacy on the land. Bert Paris is one of those farmers, and he sees that opportunity in managed grazing.

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A vision for agriculture

This story was written by Randy Jackson and was originally published by Aeon in March 2020 and has been republished here.

With each step, Zeke’s boot disappears from sight, swallowed by a lush canopy of grasses and clovers. He jabs his walking stick through the foliage to gauge its height. ‘’Bout ready for turn in,’ he thinks, taking a minute to soak up the scene – buzzing bees, chirping birds, a babbling brook full of trout. At the end of the valley, he sees his neighbour in chest-high waders flicking his fishing rod in a slow back-and-forth rhythm, and wonders how the new cattle-crossing is holding up in the creek.

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Agriculture can indeed fix our food system— if we reimagine it

This story was written by Grassland 2.0 members Randy Jackson, Michelle Miller, Pam Porter and Lindsey Day-Farnsworth and was originally published by the Washington Post in 2017 and has been republished here.

A recent article by Tamar Haspel argues that the local and organic food movement can’t fix our food system. If this movement were solely focused on “buy fresh, buy local” at farmers markets and upscale restaurants, we would agree. However, bigger changes are underway for sustainable agriculture. Farmers and others in the sustainable food movement pursue a broader vision of change in agriculture