Graziers Rick Adamski and Valerie Dantoin of Seymour received an Honorary Recognition award from the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences on October 27. Honorary Recognition, the highest honor bestowed by the College, recognizes people who have made outstanding contributions toward the development of agriculture, protection of natural resources, and improvement of rural living.
Rick and Valerie operate Full Circle Farm, a dairy farm in Seymour that has been in Rick”s family since his grandfather homesteaded it in 1898. But the farm is not an ancient relic; rather, it is a model of modernization and innovation.
When it comes to running the farm, Rick and Valerie’s backgrounds complement each other. Rick earned his bachelor’s in soil science and resource management from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Valerie earned a bachelor’s in microbiology and a master’s in agronomy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Together, they are tireless promoters of managed grazing.
In 1989, after earning a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, they hosted the first public demonstration of managed grazing in Wisconsin. This “sustainable agriculture demonstration program” allowed other dairy farmers to see how to implement a managed grazing system.
Rick and Valerie are both committed to education and outreach. From 2002 to 2004, Rick worked for the Glacierland Resource Conservation and Development Program, Inc. as a grazing assistant, consulting with farmers in 13 counties and the Oneida Nation. From 1996-2000, as a watershed education specialist with the Oneida Nation, Valerie introduced the tribe to managed grazing and organic farming, establishing a demonstration farm on the Tsyunhehkwa farm. Rick and Valerie have held annual pasture walks on their farm for nearly 20 years, hosting more than 1,000 farmers and ag educators. In 1998, Full Circle Farm was named the Shawano County Conservation Farm of the Year.
Rick and Valerie are also savvy marketers. They have identified new markets for grass-based, all-natural cheeses. In 2000, Valerie founded the Wisconsin Dairy Graziers’ Cooperative and now serves as managing director. The coop of four family dairy farms markets the Northern Meadows brand. In 2004, the Double Cranberry Cold Pack Cheese won first place at the World Cheese Championship Contest, beating out more than 1,300 entries.
Daniel Carter, manager of the Dairy Business Innovation Center in Madison, said, “I know of no other couple that has the passion, drive and success that Rick and Valerie have for Wisconsin sustainable agriculture. I especially applaud their success in grazing and their leadership in forming the Wisconsin Dairy Graziers’ Cooperative.”
Rick and Valerie continue to support UW-Madison by serving on committees and hosting student interns on their farm. From 1992-2000, Rick served on the Citizens Advisory Council for the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Since 1998, he has been a speaker for the CALS School for Beginning Dairy Farmers and the Farm and Industry Short Course. In addition, Rick and Valerie have provided financial data for farm profitability studies.
Rick and Valerie are active leaders in the community. For the past 15 years, Rick has served on the school board of the Pulaski Community School District, most recently as vice president and then president. Since 1996, Valerie has been a Smart Growth representative on the planning and zoning committee for the Township of Maple Grove. “We have long been inspired by their spirit of active citizenship in community and agricultural issues,” said Richard Cates and Margaret Krome, board members of DATCP.
Writer: Sarah Aldridge, CALS News Service