Happy Earth Day!
As growers, we know how important our role is in keeping our planet healthy. As Larry Alsum — one of our Healthy Grown sustainable growers — says, ““What we do as growers matters. I’m personally responsible for 1,200 acres of Wisconsin land and I take that very seriously. My farm isn’t simply a collection of parcels — it’s a small part of the global ecosystem. The choices I make as a grower aren’t limited to the invisible boundaries of my farm — they impact adjacent lands and the welfare of larger ecosystems.”
That’s why our Wisconsin growers became part of the Eco-Potato Partnership, established in 1996 between the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), the World Wildlife Fund and the University of Wisconsin. The Healthy Grown certification program has led to reduced use of crop inputs such as nutrients, pesticides and other additives and the adoption of biologically-based pest management systems that do not harm the environment. All Healthy Grown growers, packers and shippers are certified and
audited annually by Protected Harvest — an independent oversight organization that
ensures strict adherence to sustainable agriculture standards. The International
Crane Foundation and the Defenders of Wildlife are also part of the partnership.
Is it easy being a Healthy Grown grower? No, it’s not. But our growers count themselves lucky to be able to work one-on-one with some of the world’s leading researchers who work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Every season they try something new — better ways of outwitting potato beetles and aphids. Better ways of conserving water and restoring the native eco-systems that are part of their land.
“Have we found all the answers? No. We’re always trying new things — some of them fail. But some of them are successful. And we learn a lot,” states Andy Diercks, a Healthy Grown grower. “The biggest benefit that might come from these sustainable research projects on our farm,” he adds, “is a shift in conventional agriculture. The more we learn, the more we can share with other growers. It’s one step in making sustainable farming a viable option for more farmers.”