Connecting people to people and people to nature: Is Yahara Pride Farms a model for socially and ecologically sustainable agriculture?

Objective: to improve water quality while balancing farm profitability in a rural area in Wisconsin

Yahara Pride Farms is a coalition of farmers, business people, environmentalists, technical experts and government employees that aims to decrease nonpoint pollution in the Yahara watershed, Madison Wisconsin. YPF engages farmers directly in changes in farm management practices to decrease nonpoint pollution.

YPF is addressing a major environmental problem in innovative ways. The approach is adaptive co-management that involves large-scale experiments and assessments with the potential to change practices depending on the outcome of experiments. YPF is experimenting with manure digestors, cover crops, deep injection of manure into croplands, and other new and innovative nutrient management practices. The programs include monitoring to evaluate the effects of the practices. Local businesses offer incentives to farms that are certified by YPF.

Any solutions that emerge are potentially transferable to other regions. The social network, leadership and business model seem flexible and resilient.