End of Year Report 2017

Download the Report as PDF

Way to Grow! Your gift now will be matched! 

Dear friends,

A generous person in our community believes that the mission of Gathering Ground is worth investing in. For this reason, they have offered to match all donations that Gathering Ground receives between Giving Tuesday Nov 28, and Dec. 31, up to $15K. This means if you give a gift of $50 it will turn into $100! A gift of $100, will turn into $200. If you’ve been considering giving to Gathering Ground, now is the time to do it.

We believe that when people partner with the land, the whole community benefits. Therefore our mission is to educate youth and adults about how to partner with their environment through sustainable agriculture. Our educational programs will promote opportunities for economic development and will strengthen the health of our community.

A gift to Gathering Ground is a gift to support educational programs in sustainable agriculture, including the creation of a garden for use by the Island School students, teachers, & community members.

In 2018, we will also begin pioneering a low-impact vineyard management program for Northern Hybrid vineyards in the Midwest. With the help of experts from around the region, we believe our pilot program for sustainable grape management will prove to be a resource for grape growers across the midwest who wish to to grow grapes, but don’t want to use so many environmentally harmful fungicides and pesticides.

We are excited by what this end of the year giving will mean for Gathering Ground. If we receive $15,000 in gifts from individuals, and $15,000 from our matching donor, we will be able to jump start our programs in meaningful ways in the next year.

Thank you for your support for Gathering Ground. Please continue reading this report to learn about what we accomplished in 2017 and what 2018 has in store!

Russell Rolffs, Board President

With the funds we raise this year, we will work toward:

  • building a community garden for use by Island School students, teachers, and community members at Gathering Ground
  • starting a summer internship program for college students from around the region
  • beginning our low-impact vineyard management trial
  • starting a research-oriented orchard for Chinese chestnuts, a delicious grain-like, gluten-free tree-nut!
  • beginning groundwork for community orchard

How to Give:

1402 Mountain Road
Washington Island, WI 54246

Make checks out to Gathering Ground

Click here to check out our wishlist >>



Letters From the Board

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.
 – Aldo Leopold

From Margaret Foss:  Wisconsin’s own esteemed conservationist, Aldo Leopold, most succinctly states my feelings about Gathering Ground’s vision to “cultivate and inspire ecologically-minded agriculture and partnership with land and people.”  As one who is quickly joining the ranks of “older folks” on the island, and as a schoolteacher here nearing the end of my tenure, I feel a burgeoning sense of urgency to see our beautiful lands preserved, while at the same time exploring sustainable efforts to maintain and grow our economy for the benefit of coming generations.  It is thrilling to be a part of Gathering Ground’s founding and to foster the partnership between the island school and Gathering Ground.

From Laurel Hauser:  It’s been an honor to have been a part, even in a very humble way, of Gathering Ground’s first year and to watch it — like one watches a child — take its first steps, make its presence known, and, also like a child, be embraced by the community. Who would have guessed that an idea — to bring people and place and nourishing food together — would so quickly take root, elicit the gift of a home (a beautiful, abundant home), and a following.  CONTINUE READING>

From Alessandra Rolffs:  As Russell and I set up the tables for the potluck, we didn’t know who, if anyone, would show up. Our expectations were exceeded as 60 people arrived. The generous group brought and shared their gifts — food, music, tables, table clothes, bowls. In return for the generosity,  all were rewarded with a delicious meal, good conversation, amazing music, and a great deal of leftovers to enjoy the next day. CONTINUE READING>>

Our Financial Review & Outlook

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 9.31.43 AM.png
Our first year financials reflect an organization just getting on its feet. The vast majority of our expenses in 2017 were one-time, startup costs associated with establishment of Gathering Ground as a 501(c)3. This amount was $5,474, and was covered by an anonymous donation. The cost to produce the grapes ($732) was kept low due to the donation of people’s time and equipment. Our fixed annual costs included utilities ($367) and insurance ($778). Finally, $353 in consulting fees went to covering the travel expenses of organic fruit-growing expert Judy Reith, who donated her consultation.

With $13,273 of retained donations and earnings as of December 1, 2017, our financial outlook for 2018 is promising and will permit us to continue to work toward pioneering a path in Wisconsin for environmentally friendly vineyard management. We are also excited about the programs we can begin in 2018—from the community and school garden to the establishment of community fruit and nut orchards. With the matching donation of up $15,000 that is on offer through to the end of December, 2017, the possibilities for Gathering Ground are extremely exciting. 

Our focus is on community. Gathering Ground exists to bring people together around sustainable agriculture, to facilitate educational opportunities for youth and the community, and to work toward economic development in agriculture on Washington Island. Join us in our mission!

—Russell Rolffs, Board President



Download the Report as PDF