Vision Statement: Cultivate and inspire ecologically-minded agriculture and partnership with land and people.

Mission Statement: Gathering Ground educates youth and adults in sustainable agriculture and promotes economic development through agriculture, to strengthen the health of individuals, the Washington Island community, and the environment.

Why ‘Gathering Ground’?

We like to think of Gathering Ground as both a noun as a verb. Gathering Ground is a place — 35 beautiful acres comprised of vineyard, a school garden, woods, and a lot of potential. It is a place community members gather together. Work together. Celebrate together. Learn together.

We also think of Gathering Ground as a verb:

Working to gain momentum, build interest toward the common goal of making Washington Island a place where sustainable agriculture thrives.  We work to build excitement and financial development around sustainable farming.

And Gathering Ground also refers to the literal ground — to the building of healthy soils. We are working with tree roots, microbes, organic matter, water, and worms to gather together healthy soil to help grow good food.

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Our Blog: Gather Round

Gather Round is our blog dedicated to sharing news about Gathering Ground’s activities, promoting sustainable agriculture and growing community on Washington Island!

End-of-Year Report

We are excited to share our first Annual Report! You can read it as a slideshow or as a webpage. A Few Highlights: From Russell Rolffs, Board President: 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 … Continue reading End-of-Year Report

Partnership

“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 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 … Continue reading Partnership

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Get Involved

Donate.

Tax-deductible donations can be sent to Gathering Ground at:

1402 Mountain Road, Washington Island, WI 54246.

We appreciate your support. A generous community got Gathering Ground started and only with the help of generous people like you will we be able to fulfill our mission. Thank you!

Wish List.

Infrastructure

  • Solar panels, battery, generator
  • Posts and ropes for parking lot
  • Wood mulch  
  • Manure/compost
  • Old windmill with water tank

Vineyard tools

  • Clippers   Thank You, Jean Kokes! 

Community & School Garden

  • Cedar poles for fencing
  • Wire Fencing
  • Holes dug 
  • Soil
  • Garden tools
  • Garden shed
  • Raised beds
  • Brush hog service for meadow
  • Hoses

Staffing

  • Intern housing
  • Intern stipends
  • Executive Director’s salary

Orchard

  • Nursery stock
  • Orchard supplies (stakes, tree tubes)

Want to know more?

If you’d like to learn more about the vision or mission of Gathering Ground, give us a shout. We’d love to have coffee with you. Email us at hello @ gatheringgroundwi.org !

Volunteer.

Many hands make light work. The vineyard is calling all gardeners, pruners, outdoor lovers, birders, anyone who enjoys working outside to help tend the vineyard. You will learn how to take care of grapevines and see a lot of beauty and have a lot of fun while doing it.

Volunteer orientations: Next volunteer opportunity will be in April for pruning.

Sign up here for the Gathering Ground newsletter to stay in the know about volunteer opportunities.

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Who We Are

In November 2016, the Lyons Vineyard was donated to a new Island nonprofit by Tim and Julie Lyons. While the Lyons were searching for the right owner, five people connected with each other through their shared interest in Washington Island and sustainable living; from diverse backgrounds in education, entrepreneurship, and land stewardship, Sue Dompke, Margaret Foss, Laurel Hauser and Russell and Alessandra Rolffs began a conversation about agriculture and sustainability and now form the board of directors of Gathering Ground: Planting for the Future.

The Board

Sue Dompke, Treasurer of Gathering Ground, Owner of Sweet Mountain Farm

Margaret Foss, Educator at the Island School

Margaret was raised in the city of Chicago, attending both public and private school there, and enjoying many cultural and political opportunities while growing up.  Her main preoccupation at the time was ballet, and she spent many hours training at several studios. During her growing up years, Margaret was also very lucky to spend summers on the island, making friends, working in local establishments, and coming to love the land, water and local community. When she and her husband Kirby decided to marry in 1982, the island became her year-round home. Margaret then traded her toe shoes for dirt between her toes, when she discovered a passion for growing flowers.

In 1984, Margaret joined the teaching staff at the Washington Island School. She has taught in various capacities there ever since. She and her husband raised their daughter on the island, sending her first to the Washington Island Preschool, and then the Washington Island School. Nurturing children as they grow is Margaret’s greatest joy.

Margaret recently became a grandmother to little Clara Nikolai, the latest addition to her family tree. She anticipates retiring from teaching in the near future, in order to concentrate on her family. The creation of Gathering Grounds affords her a new opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for all of the island’s children in the form of education about sustainable practices. Margaret thinks of all this as the “cycle of life,” and is thrilled to be a part of an organization that hopes to help preserve the island for generations to come.

Laurel Hauser, Managing Editor of Washington Island Observer

Alessandra Rolffs, Secretary of Gathering Ground, Freelance Writer

Alessandra is a poet, PhD student at UWM, freelance writer, educator and farmer. She wears one hat, a sun hat, in all of these roles. She grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the midwest in 2008 to get her Master of Fine Arts from Indiana University. Since then, she’s progressively moved north: Chicago, Milwaukee, and now Washington Island.

Alessandra loves being outdoors, on the water, and working in the garden; she loves writing, teaching, and she loves things that overlap. She’s excited that so many of her loves come together at Gathering Ground. As secretary she not only takes notes at board meetings, but runs the Gathering Ground blog and helps develop educational programs.

Russell Rolffs, President of Gathering Ground, Owner of Hoot Blossom Farm

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Our Mission

Vision Statement: Cultivate and inspire ecologically-minded agriculture and partnership with land and people.

Mission Statement: Gathering Ground educates youth and adults in sustainable agriculture and promotes economic development through agriculture, to strengthen the health of individuals, the Washington Island community, and the environment.

Why ‘Gathering Ground’?

We like to think of Gathering Ground as both a noun as a verb. Gathering Ground is a place — 35 beautiful acres comprised of vineyard, a school garden, woods, and a lot of potential. It is a place community members gather together. Work together. Celebrate together. Learn together.

We also think of Gathering Ground as a verb:

Working to gain momentum, build interest toward the common goal of making Washington Island a place where sustainable agriculture thrives.  We work to build excitement and financial development around sustainable farming.

And Gathering Ground also refers to the literal ground — to the building of healthy soils. We are working with tree roots, microbes, organic matter, water, and worms to gather together healthy soil to help grow good food.