Minnesota FarmWise

by Peggy Knapp | Jul 13, 2011
| 16 Comments
Competition Winner

This entry has been selected as a winner in the
Challenge II: Ideas for Addressing Water Issues in Minnesota competition.

Summary:

The Minnesota FarmWise program is an innovative partnership between the Mississippi National River Recreation Area (MNRRA), a division of the National Park Service, and the Freshwater Society. This public/private partnership leverages the knowledge and experience of two well-established environmental organizations. At the same time, the Minnesota FarmWise program offers experienced and retired farmers an opportunity to bring a lifetime of experience to bear on an urgent environmental challenge. MNRRA has a corps of volunteers who can use their existing relationships to recruit friends and colleagues into the Minnesota FarmWise program. Both organizations bring a wealth of sound scientific knowledge to the program. Together, we can create a unique, creative inter-generational clean water campaign for the Mississippi River.

About You

Organization: The Freshwater Society Visit websitemore ↓↑ hide↑ hide

About You

First Name

Peggy

Last Name

Knapp

Country

United States, MN, Anoka County

City

Anoka

About Your Organization

Organization Name

The Freshwater Society

Organization Website

Your Idea

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Name your idea

Minnesota FarmWise

Describe how you would use $15,000 to help your community become aware of and address water issues in Minnesota.

The Minnesota FarmWise program brings together an under-used human resource (experienced and/or retired farmers) and one of Minnesota’s most important natural resources (the Mississippi River), to address the critical issue of water quality. Water issues in Minnesota are complex, and increasingly urgent. As farmers retire and pass their legacies on, they are looking for meaningful opportunities to give back to their communities. Harnessing elders’ willingness to serve, and a lifetime of experience and deep relationships within a community, the Minnesota FarmWise program partners will identify and recruit experienced and/or retired farmers who have successfully implemented conservation farming techniques. Through a series of collaborative workshops and other educational experiences, Minnesota FarmWise volunteers will develop skills and effective strategies to work with peers and colleagues. These Minnesota FarmWise volunteers will act as ambassadors to other farmers, creating a corps of volunteers to engage in dialogue with peers and colleagues about the challenges facing the Mississippi River and offer tangible ways for farmers and their communities to protect and restore Minnesota’s waters. The Minnesota FarmWise program will focus on working through existing community relationships to mentor, educate and lead other farmers to implement best practices that have been farmer-proven and farmer-approved.

How do you define your "community"?. How are water issues affecting your community?

The community served by this idea is defined both by geography and identity. Communities along the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers benefit as sediment in the rivers is reduced. The agricultural community is served by addressing a water quality problem that has emerged and escalated over the past decades. The Mississippi River was recently evaluated for sediment pollution, and the supporting report, The South Metro Mississippi River TMDL, predicts that the upper third of Lake Pepin will soon fill in with sediment, becoming a shallow swamp within the next 100 years. The report is complex, controversial, difficult to understand and challenging to pinpoint effective actions. That kind of information leaves people feeling alienated and overwhelmed. The Minnesota FarmWise program would give a corps of dedicated volunteers the information and skills they need to translate information such as this dense report and other resources into information communities can use to make positive changes that protect the river.

Innovation

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Describe how your idea is creative.

The Minnesota FarmWise program is an innovative partnership between the Mississippi National River Recreation Area (MNRRA), a division of the National Park Service, and the Freshwater Society. This public/private partnership leverages the knowledge and experience of two well-established environmental organizations. At the same time, the Minnesota FarmWise program offers experienced and retired farmers an opportunity to bring a lifetime of experience to bear on an urgent environmental challenge. MNRRA has a corps of volunteers who can use their existing relationships to recruit friends and colleagues into the Minnesota FarmWise program. Both organizations bring a wealth of sound scientific knowledge to the program. Together, we can create a unique, creative inter-generational clean water campaign for the Mississippi River.

Impact

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Describe how how you expect your idea to make a difference in your community.

The report issued on the health of the river is a legal mandate to address the sources of pollution and sediment choking Lake Pepin. Residents in every town along the Mississippi and the Minnesota Rivers will need to play a part in restoring and protecting these important waterways. Minnesota FarmWise volunteers will communicate the challenges to a variety of audiences, and facilitate and support programs and actions that positively affect the rivers. There are many programs offered through watershed districts, watershed management organizations, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, but many residents don’t know how to get involved, and are unsure of the costs and consequences- of implementing these programs. Minnesota FarmWise volunteers will serve as ambassadors to raise the profile of water issues on the Mississippi River, and get the balls rolling to recruit and enroll residents in existing efforts. A study of farmers in Pennsylvania (Bruening, Radhakrislma & Rollins, 1992) indicates that farmers prefer to get information about environmental issues through on-farm consultations, demonstrations and tours, “suggesting that farmers believe what they see (p. 35).” The Minnesota FarmWise program is built on that farmer-to-farmer model.

Sustainability and Growth

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Describe how your idea will "stick" in your community and how you think it could be repeated in other communities.

The Minnesota FarmWise program is built on a stable partnership between two leading organizations in the environmental field. The impending or recent retirement of farmers offers an ongoing source of committed, knowledgeable volunteers. The program offers other agencies and organizations a model for harnessing the knowledge and experience of retirees, strengthening community relationships, reaching across generations, and working together on solutions to critical natural resource issues.
Based on the Environmental Volunteerism and Civic Engagement program (EVCE), a groundbreaking program of the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA), the Minnesota FarmWise program will adapt existing, rigorous evaluation measures to measure the impact of the program on elders in the community and actions taken to protect the river. The information gained through the Minnesota FarmWise program will support future statewide efforts to help the agricultural community address the threat of non-point source pollution.

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pois sullivan said: The minnesota farmwide program has been a wonderful effort by the people National Park service. the logic behind setting up the same was ... about this Competition Entry. - 479 days ago read more >
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Ed Davis said: I am not sure the pressures of the global food production system can be under-estimated. A good example is the fate of the luddites in ... about this Competition Entry. - 1209 days ago read more >
Janna Caywood said: You know, you make a good point. It is not out of the realm of possibility that a program like this could evolve and expand to include ... about this Competition Entry. - 1209 days ago read more >
Janna Caywood said: I totally respect the comments made by Ed Davis and agree with his point that our global market economy and consumer purchasing ... about this Competition Entry. - 1209 days ago read more >
Ed Davis said: However, farmers are no different than any other specialized group. For example, parents are less likely to accept parental advice from ... about this Competition Entry. - 1209 days ago read more >
Ed Davis said: Given the land is a farmer's primary asset, one would wonder why they would act in ways to injury their land such as planting to the ... about this Competition Entry. - 1209 days ago read more >