Section B: Real People, Real Farms: Case Studies
- Students will learn about examples of sustainable fruit and vegetable production both in-state and around the country and the world
- Students will be able to apply the concepts taught in the module to real situations
The best exposure to a sustainable farm or food processing operation is a visit. The next best thing is to invite a farmer to speak to your class in the school. To get suggestions of nearby sustainable enterprises to visit or speakers to invite, contact your local Extension agent or one of the sustainable agriculture organizations listed under Additional Resources.
Make sure your host or speaker knows in advance what aspects of the operation your class is interested in. You might want to discuss some possible activities that would be appropriate for your class to do.
Prepare your class for the visit by reviewing what you know about the enterprise and having them figure out what questions they want answered. The questions should address some aspect of sustainability, but they may range from questions about values and quality of life to technical questions about how crops are grown.
If you wish, you can assign the class the task of writing up a case study of the farm or enterprise based on the field trip. They can use the farm interview form as the basic template for the case study. They can also take pictures or videos, provided they get permission from the host.
If a field trip or guest presenter is not feasible, use one or more of the resources suggested below.
Brix Cider Farm near Barneveld, WI has made several on-site changes to production to mitigate the effects of climate change in years to come. Their social sustainability initiative of sourcing local benefits both them and the grower. They have added value to their economic model by having a restaurant along with making hard cider. Brix Cider Farm has also launched The Brix Project to dive into their farm-to-table model and showcase partners.
A supporting case study:
John and Nora Stauner run a cranberry farm, James Lake Farms, in Oneida County. As first-generation cranberry growers, the Stauner’s decided to go with an organic model for value-added product. The small-scale farm picks and processes cranberries in 24-48 hours during harvest. They’ve also worked with the NRCS (US Dept. of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service) to set up an environmentally-conscious irrigation system and do sustainable forestry on their surrounding land.
An urban agriculture initiative:
Victory Garden Initiative in Milwaukee is a grassroots urban farm focused on growing produce to connect the community and ensure environmentally and socially sustainable practices. Finding fresh, local produce can be a challenge in urban areas, affecting low income and minorities disproportionately. However, the urban farming sector in Milwaukee is becoming more popular over the last several years- remaking the city according to some. (Food Inequities, Urban Agriculture, and the Remaking of Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Linked below are 3 short videos about sustainable horticulture projects in Wisconsin.
- “The Rise of the Local Food System in Central Wisconsin” (26 minutes) covers a variety of local food systems paving the way to keep food local and decrease ecological impacts in a world of large, highly mechanized farm operations.
- “Healthy Grown Potatoes” (9 minutes) describes a project to market potatoes grown with Integrated Pest and Nutrient Management Practices. The goals and standards of Wisconsin Healthy Grown Potato Program can be watched here (3 minutes).
- “New Leaf Foods” (13 minutes) in Northeast Wisconsin takes a holistic approach to sustainable farming, including rotational grazing. Through it, a co-op that guarantees fair pricing and reduces competition between farmers was created.
Greenhorns is a resource and community for young farmers in the United States, with its headquarters located in Maine. They have publications like the New Farmers’ Almanac, a radio show, films, and their own curriculum.
Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association focuses on sustainable agricultural practices and traceability in Wisconsin commodities.
Wisconsin Vegetable Entomology is a good resource for IPM strategies, IPM resources and field trials, and general crop information.
SARE profiles sustainable farm operations from around the country, including a number of fruit and vegetable growers. In the html version you can search by commodity (e.g., vegetables, flowers, apples, grapes, herbs, etc.).
A different wave of sustainable agriculture has developed by leaps and bounds in the last decade in Wisconsin. Hydroponics (soilless systems) and aquaponics (hydroponic system that gets nutrients from fish waste) have become increasingly popular since large amounts of food can be created in relatively small areas. More information about each can be found on this Word Doc. Visit an aquaponics video series here.
Dan Cornelius of UW-Madison’s CIAS presented on Tribal Nations Food Sovereignty in Wisconsin. He discusses the history of Native American food production and the importance of seed-saving to preserve the history of communities.
Career Pathway content standards
|National Agricultural Education Standards
Performance Element or
(in this section)
|1. Explain how fruits and vegetables fit into Iowa and Wisconsin’s agriculture and their food systems.
|FPP.01 Examine components of the food industry and historical development of food products and processing.
FPP.01.01 Evaluate the significance and implications of changes and trends in the food products and processing industry.
|2. Describe how horticulture crops fit into the world food system and global economy.
|CS.02.02 Interact with others in a manner that respects the differences of a diverse and changing society.
FPP.03.01 Apply principles of science to food processing to provide a safe, wholesome and nutritious food supply.
CS.05.03 Research geographical data related to AFNR systems.
|3. Give examples of sustainable fruit and vegetable production both in-state and around the country and the world.
|PS.03.04 Apply principles and practices of sustainable agriculture to plant production.