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.

Panel 1

Harvest Days

St. Croix & La Crescent set to be harvested together

This last week of sunshine has helped ripen the grapes; both the red and white grape are currently at about 15-16 Brix level, which puts them on track to be harvested starting October 12.

Parallel 44 will be buying the grapes from Gathering Ground, which will help support Gathering Ground’s programming, including starting a school and community garden and orchard, and transitioning the vineyard into an organic management program.  

Harvest Schedule

Thursday, Oct 12:        1-5 pm
Friday, Oct 13:             9-12 and 1:30-5
Saturday, Oct 14:         9-12 and 1:30-5
Sunday, Oct 15:           9-12 and 1:30-5*
Monday, Oct 16:          9-12 and 1:30-5*

Please RSVP using this link or by replying to this email.

*These dates are tentative based on need.

What to bring:

Garden clippers, gloves, hat, snacks, water.
We will have some gloves and clippers to lend out as well.

Pick your own grapes:

Wine grapes are excellent fruit to make jams, jellies, or vinegar from. If you’d like to buy some for home use, bring a container to carry them home in. All varieties will be priced at $1.50 per pound.  What will you need to join in the fun?

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 5.06.16 PM

Panel 2

Washington Island Farmers’ Market

Gathering Ground is proud to host the new Washington Island Farmers’ Market.

You can find Island-grown fresh produce and flowers as well as Island-made goods and crafts at the Farmers’ Market.


Saturdays 8 am to Noon

Wednesdays 4 pm to 6 pm


Local growers and makers. If you are interested in participating and selling your local Island goods, contact

Hoot Blossom Farm

Island Edibles

Island Harvest

Sweet Mountain Farm 




At Gathering Ground, near the corner of Lake View and Airport Roads. Look for signs and tables!

Panel 3

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!

Where will grapes go? #Grapewatch2017

We’ve been waiting, measuring, hoping the grapes into a ripened state. And it’s worked. Both the red and white grapes have increased in Brix! So what’s next for our beloved grapes? We are going to be selling the grapes to the winery Parallel 44. They have just released a Washington Island Rose made from last […]

RSVP for Grape Harvest 2017!

Are you planning on joining us for Grape Harvest? Let us know. Use this link to RSVP. Harvest Schedule Thursday, Oct 12:        1-5 pm Friday, Oct 13:             9-12 and 1:30-5 Saturday, Oct 14:         9-12 and 1:30-5 Sunday, Oct 15:           9-12 […]

Panel 4

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