Agricultural Transformations in the Red Cedar Learning Hub

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2023: $47,733.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Grant Recipient: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Dr. John Strauser
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Information Products

Red Cedar White Paper (Article/Newsletter/Blog)


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, networking, participatory research, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, cooperatives, land access, new enterprise development
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration, habitat enhancement, riverbank protection, soil stabilization
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, community planning, food hubs, local and regional food systems, social networks, values-based supply chains

    Proposal abstract:

    Monoculture row crops have been associated with reduced biodiversity, diminished water quality, and declining soil health. Increasing the amount of agricultural land in well-managed grasslands is likely the best way to have profitable farming operations, provide a wide array of ecosystem services, and produce a meaningful amount of meat and dairy. In Wisconsin’s Red Cedar River watershed, farmers want to increase the number of acres dedicated to well-managed perennial grasslands to protect water and soil health.

    Implementing transformative agricultural landscape change is complex and requires collaborative efforts that reach beyond the boundaries of any particular farm. To attain shared water quality and soil health goals, community members have expressed a desire to develop the Red Cedar Learning Hub. The learning hub concept builds on Grassland 2.0; a USDA SAS-CAP funded project. Learning hubs create a platform for place-based dialogue that is appreciative of a diverse set of perspectives. By bringing expert and experiential knowledge together, learning hubs offer a way to develop a well thought out land-use strategy. With a desire for converting farming practices, the Red Cedar Learning Hub is focused on working together to inform how a transition to sustainable agriculture should be implemented.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Hold ten community meetings centered on creating a collective dialogue to identify a way to transform agricultural practices.
    • Hold four on-farm field days on innovative sustainability practices.
    • Identify ways that researchers, extension agents, agricultural companies, farmers, and communities can work together to improve water quality, soil health, and the profitability of agriculture through the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.
    • Provide farmers with technical support and economic analyses so that they can make well-informed management decisions.
    • Strengthen local supply chains with a pilot project that connects producers of grass-fed beef with lake management organizations through relational organizing and educational opportunities.
    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.