This article was originally published in the Washington Island Observer
GatheringÂ Ground, a nonprofit dedicated to the education, celebration and practice of regenerative agriculture, is now in its second year on Washington Island. The season got off to a late start; with the April blizzard,Â GatheringGroundÂ had to postpone the Earth Day pruning and planting party until early May. Despite the delay, the 17 volunteers who joined the party were enthusiastic â€” including Jack, a twenty-year-old Sturgeon Bay resident who rode his bike up to join the party and learn more about grapes.
GatheringÂ GroundÂ is also being joined by other off-Island volunteer groups, including the Fruity Nutty Orchard Club from UW-Milwaukee, a UW-Madison PhD student in horticulture studying grapes, a UW research gardener, as well as 23 seventh graders from the Viroqua area, and our very own Island school students.
These students came all the way from Viroqua, Wisconsin, to lend a hand atÂ GatheringÂ Ground.
This year,Â GatheringÂ GroundÂ is also starting a six-week internship program. Interns are Lucy Teddy, a sophomore at UW-Milwaukee, studying environmental science and geography; and Nathan, a senior studying biology with a minor in sustainable management and entrepreneurship. The two interns will learn about and help work in the vineyard and also work on a collaborative research project in one ofÂ GatheringÂ Groundâ€™s areas of interest. They will present their projectsÂ at theÂ GatheringÂ Ground potluck and lecture on July 20 at 5:30 p.m.
This seasonÂ GatheringÂ GroundÂ is once again hostingÂ the farmers market forÂ Island growers, crafters,and makers, startingÂ Saturday, May 26, fromÂ 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. To increaseÂ accessibility and provide better parking for farmersÂ market attendees, theÂ market will be held onLake View instead of Airport.Â Look for the tents andÂ parking area west of AirportÂ Road on Lake View Road. So far, Island Edibles,Â Island Harvest, SweetÂ Mountain Farm and Hoot Blossom Farm have signed up as regular vendors. A few crafters will also be joining to sell jewelry and other handmade goods.
Early in the season, growers will have garden starters for sale, microgreens and honey.Â Gathering GroundÂ will have hand-woven wreaths made from the prunings from the vineyard. Later in the season, market tables will explode with color and variety!
Students helped prune the rows and rows of grapevines at theÂ Gathering GroundÂ vineyard. The vines are being pruned in a specific way that allows for more eco-friendly management.
GatheringÂ GroundÂ executive director Russell Rolffs helps K-2 students plant a new seedling.
PHOTO BY MARGARET FOSS