Winchester Academy’s first program of the 2011 winter-spring series will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31, at the Waupaca Area Public Library.
Doors will be open at 6 p.m. with coffee and cookies served until the program begins. Programs are free and open to the public, and the site is handicapped-accessible.
Speakers Michael and Debra Hansen will present a program about their Good Earth Farms near Milladore. They call their talk “Farming as if Everything Matters,” and will share the inside story of life on their organic farm where they raise grass-fed Belted Galloway cattle and certified organic pasture-raised turkeys, chickens and pork.
Their 80-acre farm, named “Gifts From the Good Earth,” was purchased in 1995. It had been farmed for over 100 years, the land was nearly exhausted, the trees gone, the buildings neglected, and the cows were wandering in and polluting a half-mile of waterway.
Within three years they had achieved certification and have maintained it to this day. They believe strongly in the benefits of organic production and holistic farming methods, planting native prairie grasses, using a rotational grazing system, improving biodiversity, planting trees, restoring wetland areas and wildlife habitat, minimizing soil disturbance, and using no man-made chemicals and fertilizers.
They have teamed up with a consortium of Amish farm neighbors who are also certified organic and who share their commitment to animal welfare and sustainable farming practices.
Michael Hansen is from the north woods of Wisconsin. He has a bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and did graduate work in rural and regional land use planning at Western Illinois University. He worked as a community planner for five years before becoming a full-time farmer. He has been a participant and a speaker for the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference since 1993, and is doing research work with the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at UW-Madison. He also served on Gov. Jim Doyle’s Organic Task Force.
Deborah Hansen has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from UW-Eau Claire and is a Certified Public Accountant. She is currently director of sponsored programs at the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation. She also worked with the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at UW-Madison, collecting data on the cost and time efficiencies of pasture-raised poultry to help develop budgets for other farmers interested in this type of work.
Raised on a Midwest farm, she is responsible for managing the finances and livestock records of their operation and assisting in daily farm operation when needed.
The second Winchester Academy program of the season will be on Monday, Feb. 7, with Robert Benada, retired NASA physicist. His program is titled “Going to Mars: What to Pack and What You’ll Find There.” Photos from orbiting satellites and a surface rover will help prepare the audience for an imaginary trip.