Potential Markets for the Prairie's Edge Sustainable Woods Cooperative
Wayne Wangsness of Decorah, IA and Prairie’s Edge Sustainable Woods Cooperative (PESWC) received a 2001 SARE grant to help improve the status of woodlands in northeast Iowa. The PESWC was formed by a small group of forest landowners from four counties in Iowa, who were interested in creating a sustainable forestry cooperative. “Our mission is to maximize the long-term aesthetic, ecological and economic benefits from our woodlands by encouraging environmentally responsible forestry practices, and by cooperatively adding value to our forest products,” stated Wangsness.
The goals for the 2001 SARE project were to support the cooperative in determining information regarding the two different marketing strategies and help at creating a more viable market. The project was also intended to be used as an educational outreach and assist in the administrative tasks of the cooperative.
They began the process by selecting the Community Forestry Resource Center as their contractor, who helped them generate a full marketing and business plan. With the help of the CFRC they performed a feasibility and marketing study where the gathered information, concerning the strengths and weaknesses of each alternative marketing strategy. They also received contributions from several members of the Board of Directors, Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ District Foresters and the Resource Conservation and Development for Northeast Iowa. Grant funds were also used to hire a part-time coordinator to execute the actions produced in the business plan.
As of November 2003 Prairie’s Edge Sustainable Woods Cooperative had 79 members representing approximately 9,800 acres, which makes it one of the largest sustainable forestry co-ops in the upper Midwest. The outreach from this project has seen considerable growth; as they now produce a brochure that is distributed throughout several areas in Northeast Iowa and a newsletter called The Edge which is printed quarterly.
For more information concerning Prairie’s Edge, contact Kevin Sand at (563) 382-2754 or email@example.com