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, and strengthens 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.

Panel 1

Celebrate Earth Day in May Work Party

April 20-22 (2).png

Due to the 19″ snow that fell on the Island over the weekend of April 11-12, we are postponing the work day celebrations to May 4-6. Keep sending your warm thoughts to the Island!

Get geared up for spring with a work party at Gathering Ground! All gardeners, nature lovers, soil nerds, tree-huggers, students, teachers, book readers, gamers, oxygen-breathers, and spring lovers to join us for a weekend full of pruning grapevines and planting nut trees.  No experience necessary, but if you do have a favorite pair of work gloves, pruners, or shovel feel free to bring it along.

Parking – Please park off Lake View Road. Pull into the driveway and pull up under the oak trees. There will be signs directing you.

There will be a volunteer check-in station / snack and water table at the west end of the vineyard. Clippers and gloves will also be available for sharing at this table.

Tentative Schedule

Friday:  10 am Pruning Lesson with Russell. Grab a pair of clippers and meet Russell at the check-in station. Look for the signs!

2:00 pm  Pruning Lesson with Russell. Grab a pair of clippers and meet Russell at the check-in station. Look for the signs!

Saturday

10 am Pruning Lesson with Russell. Grab a pair of clippers and meet Russell at the check-in station. Look for the signs!

1-3 Wreath-making with the your grape vine prunings! From 1-3 the the wreath making table will be open. When you’ve harvested a good amount of vines, bring ’em over to the wreath-making station with Connie and Donna to let your creativity loose!

2:00 pm Pruning and Planting Lesson with Russell. Meet Russell at the check-in station. Look for the signs!

Sunday 

10 am Pruning Lesson with Russell. Grab a pair of clippers and meet Russell at the check-in station. Look for the signs!

1-3 Wreath-making with the your grape vine prunings! From 1-3 the the wreath making table will be open. When you’ve harvested a good amount of vines, bring ’em over to the wreath-making station with Connie and Donna to let your creativity loose!

2:00 pm Pruning and Planting Lesson with Russell. Meet Russell at the check-in station. Look for the signs!

 

 

 

Panel 2

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.

Panel 3

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

I graduated from Marquette University with an MBA and bring to Gathering Ground my 18 years’ experience as a corporate controller. I have worked in the electrical distribution and promotional marketing fields.  I currently own and run Sweet Mountain Farm on Washington Island. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself. Working continuously for other people for 30 years, I started my own business at age 51, to indulge my entrepreneurial instinct, my love of the outdoors, and my desire to make a difference. I own Sweet Mountain Farm, LLC, an apiary on Washington Island that breeds Russian honey bees and builds northern white cedar beehives. The niche micro-farm grows bee friendly plants, raises chickens, produces Made to be Clean natural soaps and deodorants, and taps sugar maple. The farms educational outreach includes hosting field trips, hands on field days, farm tours and presents to bee clubs across Wisconsin.

I am inspired by the commitment, enthusiasm, and strong work ethic at Gathering Ground. I am grateful working alongside farmers, to have the benefits of eating healthy food, and to surround myself with community members who want to insure the vineyard and its beautiful location is sustainable.

We all have, as a community, a role to play in creating a sustainable environment. Working with Gathering Ground reinforces my belief that a few committed individuals can make a difference in preserving our heritage as growers. It’s a passion to teach sustainability and hand down love and respect for the land. Gathering Ground facilitates community dialog, educates, equips, and values the next generation of growers and producers.

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, Hoot Blossom Farm

 

Panel 4

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, and strengthens 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.