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Soil Sisters: Building a Reciprocal Relationship with the Land

It’s so easy to love and appreciate rural Wisconsin life during these summer days, right? However, the love we hold for these moments is not enough. It is our love that beckons us to action, to become guardians of the beauty that surrounds us.


Monroe Times
By Heather Lynch, Green Haven Gardens (Brooklyn, WI)

I think August has to be my favorite month of the year. It unfolds like a love letter to our rural Wisconsin life, to the beautiful and vibrant natural world that we are so lucky to have all around us. July brought us some desperately needed rain, so crispy fields have now transformed into rolling green hills that stretch out in every direction, and animals are now able to graze contentedly in their lush pastures.

With each passing day, the land generously shares its treasures, a testament to the harmonious partnership between human hands and the fertile soil. Our local farms are bursting with vibrant harvests, evidence of the care of the farmers who nurture the land. In my own garden, I revel in the joy of cultivating our sustenance, watching as vibrant tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and piles of summer squash unfurl under my tending.

Amidst this abundance, the countryside and our own yards transform into a living kaleidoscope of colors and life. Flower gardens burst into bloom, their delicate petals an invitation to butterflies and bees. The air is alive with their gentle hum, a reminder of the vital role these pollinators play in the intricate web of nature.

In the midst of summer’s heat, a dip in a cold, clear stream or in the middle of a tranquil lake offers respite from the sun. For many of us, the waters become a sanctuary, a place of solace and rejuvenation. And as the heat breaks when the sun dips below the horizon, the sky transforms with vibrant colors. The chorus of cicadas and the twinkling light of fireflies create a symphony that serenades us into the cool nights.

It’s so easy to love and appreciate rural Wisconsin life during these summer days, right? However, the love we hold for these moments is not enough. It is our love that beckons us to action, to become guardians of the beauty that surrounds us. In the words of Robin Wall Kimmerer, “To love a place is not enough. We must find ways to heal it.” This wisdom resonates with me, a reminder that my love for this land must be translated into tangible efforts to ensure its well-being.

To this end, let’s embrace actionable steps that can empower us to become stewards of our cherished summers, the land we hold dear:

1. Embrace Sustainable Farming: Support regenerative farming practices that prioritize soil health and minimize environmental impact, ensuring a resilient future for our agricultural heritage.

2. Preserve Biodiversity: Create sanctuaries that invite diverse plant and animal species, fostering a thriving ecosystem that harmoniously coexists.

3. Mindful Water Usage: Employ water-efficient irrigation techniques and conscious water consumption, safeguarding the purity of our streams and lakes.

4. Native Landscaping: Cultivate native plant species that honor the land’s innate beauty while actively supporting local ecosystems.

5. Education and Community Engagement: Share knowledge and collaborate with fellow landowners, advocating for conservation efforts and inspiring a collective commitment to the land.

In the spirit of action and unity, I am delighted to extend an invitation to fellow women landowners to join me on my land for the “Southern Wisconsin Women in Conservation Regional Summit”on September 15th. Organized in partnership with Wisconsin Women in Conservation (WiWiC), Land and Water Conservation Department of Green County (GCLWCD) and Soil Sisters, this summit provides a platform to learn about effective conservation practices, to find resources that can help you, and to connect with other women who are passionate about this cause.

We want to help you embark on a journey of empowerment, to equip you with the tools and insights to become stewards of the land we hold dear. Come learn about opportunities to work with Tonya Gratz at GCLWCD to develop a WiWiC Conservation Plan for your land. I found the process so valuable. If you’re a woman in Green County Area interested in attending, please register here. Scholarships available.

While we revel in late summer in Wisconsin, let’s embrace the responsibility of safeguarding our treasured landscape. Together, we will ensure that the love we hold for our surroundings transcends admiration, and grows into a legacy of preservation and care. Let’s work together so we can secure a future where the beauty of August in rural Wisconsin continues to thrive for generations to come. — Heather Lynch is a garden educator, with a passion for local, seasonal food. She and her husband, Dylan, live in Brooklyn and have been working to grow their homestead. She is currently serving as a Stewardship Ambassador with the Women, Food & Agriculture Network/WFAN, a partnership project with Renewing the Countryside and Soil Sisters to empower other landowners to take conservation action and amplifying women landowners as powerful agents of change. Soil Sisters, a program of Renewing the Countryside, connects and champions women in the Green County area committed to sustainable and organic agriculture, land stewardship, local food, family farms and healthy and economically vibrant rural communities.

This Soil Sisters column originally ran in The Monroe Times on 8/16/23.


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