Reedsburg, Wis. June 3, 2020 — Wormfarm Institute, an arts organization in Sauk County committed to integrating culture and agriculture, is partnering with the Local Voices Network to host 60 digital community conversations about food, farming, and the land through November 2020. Hosted on Zoom by community volunteers, each conversation gathers 4-8 Wisconsinites to share their unique stories and listen to others. Participation is free and conversations last 90 minutes.
Farmers across Wisconsin face challenges that have only been amplified in recent weeks, yet consumers continue to depend on their efforts for nourishment and economic health. “The issues that affect farmers need to matter to all of us, because everybody eats,” says Donna Neuwirth, Wormfarm Executive Director. “Our collaboration with LVN seeks to bring rural and urban residents together to think more regionally about food security, land health, farm viability, and how to build thriving places to live.”
Colleen Butler, Head of Local Voices Network in Wisconsin, adds, “Two of our key values at the Local Voices Network are authentic voices and diverse perspectives. The partnership with Wormfarm welcomes underheard, rural voices from across the state. By sharing these stories, the project fosters conversation in communities that improves our understanding of one another.”
A dozen trained volunteers will facilitate conversations to amplify local voices, connect people across differences, and share the issues that matter most. Each conversation is recorded and uploaded to a custom platform where stories can be shared with local media, policy makers, and members of the public. Wormfarm Director of Programs Philip Matthews says, “It’s especially important this election year to foster civic dialogue that’s civil, and encourage people to share their experience.” Last fall, The Hill identified Sauk County as one of ten counties in the U.S. that will determine the outcome of the 2020 election. The Democratic National Convention is scheduled in Milwaukee from August 17 to 20.
Multiple food and farming conversations will occur each month leading up to the 2020 Farm/Art DTour (Sep 26–Oct 4), a free, self-guided drive through the working farmlands of Sauk County, punctuated by site-responsive artworks, local food markets, roadside poetry, and educational Field Notes. Conversation highlights will inspire artworks and other installations sited along the route, and the conversation script will continue to evolve.
The DTour is expected to attract 25,000 people from throughout the Midwest to come closer to what farmers do everyday. It is a recurring biennial, part of Fermentation Fest: A Live Culture Convergence hosted by Wormfarm. Because the DTour has social distancing built in (“DTourists” drive the route at their own pace), this outdoor fall event will take place with modifications.
Wisconsinites from rural and urban areas are invited to participate. To register for a conversation and learn more, visit lvn.org/wormfarm.