HEALTH, our 2020 collaboration with SSWIG (Sauk Soil & Water Improvement Group), has a new layer of pine and cedar from the Van Zelst Barrens awaiting snow. Thanks to the Baraboo Range Preservation Association for the greenery.
HEALTH was the last word on this year's Farm/Art DTour. Rightly so, as it's been on our minds all year: from the pandemic to the levers of democracy to the challenges farmers are facing. We're grateful this Farm Form can stick around a little longer to remind us that community, environmental, economic and human health are all interconnected. We hope it offers a little inspiration as we celebrate the new year.
The Van Zelst Barrens are at the southern reaches of the pine barrens habitat that extends throughout central Wisconsin. This is a unique habitat type in Sauk County, characterized by scattered jack pine trees, sandy soil and a diversity of groundlayer plants, lichens and insects. In the absence of natural disturbances, a thick layer of pine seedlings will grow and shade out herbaceous plants, resulting in the loss of rare species. For the past several decades, conservationists have been visiting the Barrens to study wild species and to clear dense areas of pines so that sunlight can reach the ground. Sustaining this natural community requires a dedication to land management, and awareness of the slow changes that occur as the surrounding pine forest encroaches. To create the winter version of HEALTH, we cut jack pine, white pine and red cedar trees and removed most of the branches from the Barrens. The branches we did leave are scattered on the ground and will decompose over the next few years, making way for grasses and herbaceous plants.
All year we've been grateful for our friends and neighbors: folks who pulled together to ensure the DTour would go on, welcoming thousands to Sauk County who boosted our local restaurants, farm stands & shops, supported artists when they needed it most, and were eager to learn from our farmers.
Just imagine what we could do together in 2021 if we kept up this tenacious momentum. We still have seeds to sow and projects to grow to focus on community health, wealth and joy along the rural-urban continuum. It’s never mattered more. Make a contribution today and support local agri/culture.