Strengthening Black farming and food businesses in Dane County

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $16,069.00
Projected End Date: 02/15/2026
Grant Recipient: Madtown Food Services, LLC
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Donale Richards
Madtown Food Services, LLC


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal summary:

There are not enough examples in Dane County for Black farmers
and value-added producers to collaborate on local supply chains &
market opportunities. While reading books or taking classes can
help with acquiring new ways of thinking, they don’t always
transfer knowledge or offer meaning-making moments while
operating a business. Instead, in-person engagements tend to be
preferred, especially in the Black community. People want to work
with people, but often, time is limited, the distance is too far,
or people are simply not connected to the right people. This is
the case for three entrepreneurs who have complimentary
experiences as business owners, but limited experiences working
together on a project.

This project seeks to address common problem experienced by 3

  1. How do our food and farming businesses work together to be
    financially stable?
  2. How do we educate the Black community in Dane County about
    local food supply chains?
  3. How do we train up more Black farmers and value-added
    producers to support the local food supply chain?

Project objectives from proposal:


This project focuses on training and networking with a small
group of a farmers and value-added producers in Dane County. The
trainer (Robert Pierce) has allocated up to 2 acres of land and
limited access to equipment + vehicles for the trainees (Donale
Richards and Alex Booker) to manage for their business interests.
While the trainer and trainees will see each other frequently,
this project will support several training sessions dedicated on
small-scale production systems. The topics are focused on animal
& crop planning, structural design & build, operating and
maintaining farm vehicles, and post-harvest handling &

What isn't covered by the training sessions will be covered by
the partner visits. Yowela Farms, Artemis Provisions and Cheese,
TradeRoots, Beulah Family Farms, M&J Jamaican Kitch'n, The
Smiling Coast Cuisine are just a few names of partners that have
worked with the collaborators in the past. Partners have been
selected to conduct site visits, discuss bottlenecks in their
supply chain and what steps are needed to be taken in order to
work together for business-to-business opportunities. Partners
with livestock will be able to show rotational grazing systems
and partners in food processing will be able to show food safety

In addition, Robert manages 30+ acres of land for sustainable
vegetable and grain production, large-scale composting system
which supports products available at the South Madison Farmers
Market and contracts with local retail stores. While this grant
does not directly support those aspects at NFS, trainees will be
exposed to Robert's network and have opportunities to engage in
the day-to-day operations to further understand the expenses &
revenue of his operation as well as the sustainable agricultural
practices (composting, crop biodiversity, pest and disease
management without chemical applications) 

Materials and supplies that are still needed will be recycled
materials from the partner network, out-of-pocket or covered by
future USDA grant or cost-share programs (BFRDP, UAIP, EQIP,
etc.) to support the collaboration. Lastly, the trainees will
collect online materials/resources from USDA service centers,, FarmAnswers and the SARE Project Database.



  1. Host 16 hands-on training sessions and partner visits that
    focus on sustainable chicken and vegetable production systems
  2. Host 2 workshops at the annual Black Urban Growers Conference
    to share updates on project & resources collected
  3. Host 2 on-farm demonstrations for the public to learn about
    the project's production system + supply chain
  4. Curated compilation of resources to be shared on the Calabash
    Collective's online learning platform (a national network of
    Black/Brown farmers, growers, food producers and consultants)
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.