Who is Gathering Ground? (Island mailer)

Hello Neighbors! 

We are Gathering Ground – the nonprofit that now manages the former Lyons vineyard on Lake View and Airport. We want to say hello and let you know what we are up to. 

Gathering Ground is an educational nonprofit established in winter 2016 with a focus on celebrating sustainable agriculture. We draw on the Island’s rich agricultural history to use practices that benefit the land, water and whole community. We value community, partnerships with nature, and access to healthy food.

We work with the Island school to bring students hands-on, outdoor learning experiences. This year we hosted the first annual “Gathering Ground Day,” a day-long experiential learning opportunity. We planted blueberries with elementary students and grafted grapevines with high schoolers. In 2020, Hotel Washington will provide a lunch that includes greens from the school’s raised-bed gardens. 

With the Island school, Gathering Ground aspires to develop a school forest on our grounds with trails, connecting the two adjacent properties and a work-study programs that allows high school students to earn a wage while working in garden plots at Gathering Ground dedicated to growing produce for student lunches and the WI Food Pantry.

Gathering Ground works to provide educational events on gardening topics for the whole community. If you have a gardening topic you’d like more info on, email us and let us know. (hello@gatheringgroundwi.org

Since the inception of Gathering Ground, we have endeavored to diversify what can be grown sustainably at the site. An ongoing pursuit has been our community fruit and nut orchard. In 2020, we plan to extend our chestnut orchard along Lake View. Chestnut trees produce edible nuts that can be eaten raw or dried to make flour, and a mature orchard can produce 4,000 pounds per acre. If successful, the trees will feed generations of Islanders as they live for 300+ years. We are also planting butternuts, apples, pears, blueberries and lingonberries. When the trees begin to bear, we will observe which thrive here and then make those available to those interested in growing fruit in their own backyard. If we raise enough funds to purchase a tractor, we will start a community composting program in 2020 and incorporate a small flock of sheep to help maintain weeds in the understory of the vineyard and orchards. 

Ultimately our vision for Gathering Ground’s site is to be an edible botanical garden that invites the community to stroll, explore, and delight in the natural world. We desire to continue to provide more opportunities for students and adults to work, learn and play on the grounds. 

To contribute financially to Gathering Ground, please mail checks made out to Gathering Ground to 2162 Swenson Road or donate online.

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