After completing a Conservation Land Plan through Wisconsin Women in Conservation with Tonya Gratz, a Soil Conservationist with Green County Land & Water Conservation Department, we feel confident that we can convert our land into a haven for all wildlife from the smallest microbe to the deer that occasionally pass through.
By Alicia Gasaway, Gasaway Gardens (Monticello, WI)
My family has been so thankful for the rain this weekend. It seems the only things that were thriving in our fields were lambsquarter and thistle. At least lambsquarter is tasty! Most people count it as a weed, but it is a quick-cooking green that only needs a little bit of salt to be delicious. Pinch the tender tips off of the young lambsquarter, give them a quick rinse in a bowl of cold water, drain, and cook down in a pot on the stove for 3-4 min. Add a pinch of salt and enjoy!
We count lambsquarter as a cover crop because we use it in the kitchen and our goats love it as well. We introduced buckwheat and amaranth this season and are trying to get our red and white clovers to spread. Having a variety of cover crops helps keep the soil moist during periods of drought. Other great things to do are introducing earth worms (great project for school age kids to take charge of), mulching around plants as much as possible, and adopting no-till methods.
After completing a Conservation Land Plan through Wisconsin Women in Conservation (WiWiC) with Tonya Gratz, a Soil Conservationist with Green County Land & Water Conservation Department, we feel confident that we can convert our land into a haven for all wildlife from the smallest microbe to the deer that occasionally pass through. The land walk took less than an hour for our 5 acres, and the plan she developed for us was extremely thorough. She laid out a project timeline that we discussed together with specific plants and methods for our particular areas of concern. She provided a list of native trees to our area to help us establish a wind break, and mentioned the Conservation Reserve Program. She took lots of pictures and provided feedback on all the things that she saw. It was a long document, but so useful for us and we refer back to it almost weekly.
We have created over 200sq ft of raised beds so far, and plan on another 300 sq ft this year or next. We have begun mulching and putting up bat houses and bird houses. We have started clearing invasive plants from our hill. There are several large projects ahead of us, but we are excited to see the health of our soil and land improve. We know many others who have had the opportunity to work with the Green County Land & Water Conservation Department as well. I highly recommend having a land walk done on your property. It is easy to arrange, requires little work of you, and will provide you with professional direction to create the healthy abundant land you long for.
On Sunday, July 16th, we will be hosting a Learning Circle through Women, Food and Agriculture Network on our property. In partnership with Soil Sisters, I will be giving a tour of our land and discussing the land plan and other conservation methods we have begun to incorporate. Community members will have an opportunity to ask questions and share their own stories as well. This will be followed up by a potluck and our regular Soil Sisters circle, which is always open to any interested women in the Green County area! We have seen a lot of new faces lately, and want to encourage more women to come out and join us even if you don’t know anyone yet. We have great food and fun people! The link to register for the event can be found here: www.soilsistershub.org.
I hope we begin to have regular intervals of rain this season, and I hope you all have success in implementing methods to protect and build soil health. We can all work together to keep Green County a beautiful place to live.
— Alicia Gasaway lives in Green County on a cute 5-acre hobby farm. She lives with her husband and two children, and a growing number of animal friends serves as a WFAN Stewardship Ambassador, sharing her conservation story.. The Gasaways practice rotational grazing, cultivate a newly started food forest, grow medicinal herbs and herbs for tea blends, and run a produce stand during certain months of the year. 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.