Gathering Ground blends agriculture and conservation on its 40 acre working and teaching farm on Wisconsin’s Washington Island. With a vision for thriving communities connected to the environment and their food through work and play, we focus on sustainable farming practices with our diverse fruit and nut orchards, vineyards, and grazing sheep. We promote biodiversity, offer community composting, and support local farms through our Farmers’ Market.
Gathering Ground offers an educational internship, Ground School, for young adults interested in agriculture, conservation, and environmentalism. We partner with our local K-12 district to educate kids about sustainability. We also offer workshops and events for all ages, including our annual Dinner in the Vineyard, a celebration of local food and drink among our vines. The Grounds are open for walking tours and picnics. Join us in Planting for the Future!
We envision thriving communities connected to the environment and their food through work and play.
We cultivate community and learning in partnership with the generous earth through agriculture.
Take a virtual trip to our Washington Island farm, and hear more from the founders about what motivates them to learn from its soil.
Watch this video overview of our property, featuring footage from our annual Dinner in the Vineyard fundraiser. Hear from Russell and Alessandra Rolffs about what inspired them to start the foundation, and what they envision for its future.
Video production by Dusan Harminc of Stumptown Media.
Support Our Work
Help us plant seeds of knowledge to grow a sustainable future
News From the Farm
We are grateful to everyone who made Dinner in the Vineyard a wonderful and successful event, including chefs and makers Island Orchard Cider, Ashley Hamilton, Terese Allen, Kyle Ransom of Island Edibles, Sara from Roots Inn and Kitchen, Jean True, Jeannie Kokes. TO...
This first appeared in the Washington Island Observer. This summer Gathering Ground hosted seven students for its summer internship program, Ground School. This program creates an environment for students to learn about the theory and practice of sustainable farming...
This article was first published in the Washington Island Observer. Story by Andrea McCabe, Ground School Student 2022 A glimmer of hope for the future of chestnut trees throughout the Midwest is growing on Washington Island. The first chestnut tree blossom at...
They say that the best time to plant a fruit tree is thirty years ago. Well, the second best time is now.
Plant a Chestnut
Help us plant chestnut trees!
Chestnuts are called the Bread Tree, as the nuts have a similar nutritional profile to grain. They can be eaten fresh or milled into a flour. They can produce 4,000 pounds per acre, and start producing in as little as 3 years.
Chestnuts are a sustainable food harvest because they produce every year without needing to be replanted, thereby reducing tillage, helping build soils, and locking carbon in the soil.
Your gift of $100 allows us to plant a seedling and care for it to maturity
Your gift of $200 allows us to plant a tree in your or a loved one’s name, memorialized with a plaque, and to care for it to maturity.
Build a Forest Path
With the help of Washington Island School students and their teachers, we are creating a path between the Island School campus and Gathering Ground. The path will not only provide a safe way for students to travel from the school to the Grounds, but it will be a classroom itself – for students and community members alike. The forest path will provide us with the opportunity to enjoy the forest habitat through the seasons, provide a place for phenology studies and forest education, benches for sketching and reflection, and so much more. We are excited for this opportunity to collaborate with our neighbors. Thank you for joining us!
Want to get involved in the creation of the path? Let us know.
Donations of $25 to $50 will help provide mulch for the pathway.
Donations of $100 to $500 will help us lay boardwalk to protect the delicate wetland areas of the forest.
Our Partners & Sponsors
We are so grateful for the support we receive from our partners and sponsors. Do you have a company or organization that’s dedicated to promoting and investing in sustainable agriculture? Contact us for more info.