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Groundswell is now the proud owner of a brand-new tractor and mower, and we couldn’t have done it without you!  We are happy to support a local business with this purchase too. Each year we plant more and more acres of prairie at Westport Prairie. Having a tractor is going to make land management so much easier.  This New Holland Workmaster 50 will be put to good use for many years to come.  It will primarily be used to perform maintenance mowing in our newly planted prairies.  Each new prairie should be mowed two to three times per year for the first couple of years to eliminate weeds and allow sunlight to reach the tiny prairie seedlings.  The tractor will also be used to mow the various trails at Westport Prairie.  We’re so excited to get outside and put it to good use for wildlife habitat! 

Tractor Naming Contest Details

Groundswell needs help naming the tractor! The tractor naming contest will include three rounds.

Round 1 – Open Name Suggestions
Send your name suggestions to us in the form below.
Round 1 will be open until Tuesday, August 29th.

Round 2 – Staff Top Five Choices
Groundswell staff will choose our top five favorite names from your suggestions.
Round 2 will be conducted by staff from Wednesday, August 30th to Friday, September 1st.

Round 3 – Final Voting by You
Vote on your favorite name from the staff’s top five choices, and the final name will be decided by voters!
Round 3 will be open from Saturday, September 2nd to Wednesday, September 6th.

And the winning name is…


A special thank you to these supporters for making the purchase of a tractor and mower possible! 

In the next 15 years, farmland in the United States will face major transitions and challenges. The average farmer is over 57 years old, and many farmers do not have heirs who want to take over their farms. Approximately 90% of farmland is owned by non-farming owners, and the cost of farmland continues to rise. On top of that, the most productive farmland is often the most attractive to developers.

To facilitate and address these challenges, Groundswell is creating a pipeline to farmland ownership for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color farmers and land seekers using the Buy, Protect, Sell (BPS) model. Read the successful BPS story by American Farmland Trust and Renewing the Countryside.

If you’re a farmland owner or know a farmland owner, you can help leave a legacy. To read more about farmland transition options, click here.

The Linden Cohousing Farmers Market will be back for a fourth year of bringing fresh, locally grown food to the eastside of Madison. When you shop at the Linden Cohousing Farmers Market, you are directly supporting farmers and entrepreneurs of color in our community.

The market will be held at 2082 Winnebago Street, every Thursday 3:00 – 6:00 pm, starting on May 25, 2023 and ending on September 28, 2023.

Thank you to our market sponsor TASC!

As 2022 comes to a close, we’re reflecting on another year of connecting people to nature. This year, we had the pleasure of connecting people to nature through the written word.

We collaborated with two local poets as part of the Writing the Land project to honor local land through poetry. They wrote poems inspired by two of the special places we protect – Westport Prairie and Patrick Marsh.

Poet Lisa Marie Brimmer wrote poems inspired by Westport Prairie.

Angie Trudell Vasquez, City of Madison Poet Laureate, wrote poems inspired by Patrick Marsh.

Read the poems by clicking the links above. And check out the videos below of Lisa Marie and Angie reading their poems.

Through the Writing the Land project, Lisa Marie and Angie emphasized the importance of individual connection to land and place. We hope these poems inspire you to visit these special places and think about their protection in a new way.

A huge thank you to Lisa Marie and Angie for sharing their time, talent, and commitment to conservation with us. They’ve both been a pleasure to work with and we’re honored to have them bring a fresh perspective to our protected lands.

If you have any questions, comments, or reactions to this project, please feel free to reach out to Liz at

Hiking at Patrick Marsh just got more accessible (and less muddy) thanks to local Boy Scout Nick Parks! Nick, of Boy Scout Troop 47, recently extended a boardwalk by ~35 feet for his Eagle Scout Project. The boardwalk covers a muddy section of trail near the south entrance of Patrick Marsh. Thanks to the hard work of Nick and a crew of volunteers, visitors will have an easier time traversing this section of path.

Check out more photos from the boardwalk build here.

Thank you to Groundswell supporters Ann and Ron Semmann and Rex Owens (who gave in memory of his late wife Lynette Owens) for funding this project.

Learn more about how this project happened in this video from Sun Prairie News.

The Linden Cohousing Farmers Market is back and better than ever! The market opens today, May 26, and will run through September 22, 2022. It will be open every Thursday from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Linden Cohousing parking lot (located at 2082 Winnebago Street).

This year the market is expanding to include more producers of color and a food cart!

The farmers market was created to be inclusive and accessible to small farm businesses that were facing barriers. As we coordinate with new small producers operating out of the FEED Kitchen, customers will see different vendors throughout the season selling items like fresh egg rolls and homemade salsa.

Thank you to our sponsor TASC for supporting the market again this year!

This spring, enjoy better access to Westport Prairie! This year, Groundswell put in a new parking area, created better signage, added two new mowed trails, and will remove the locked gate at the driveway entrance. We also hired Operation Fresh Start to renovate the inside of the tobacco barn. Now one section of the barn will host events and the other side will store crucial land restoration equipment. You’ll also find a new sign at the entrance which identifies Westport Prairie.

This work was made possible thanks to Karl Gutknecht and Susan Hunt, James E. Dutton Foundation, and Oberweiler Foundation.

Join us to celebrate better access on Friday, May 20, 2022. Click here for more details and to sign up.

To read more stories from our Spring 2022 Newsletter, click here.

We’re excited to share the news that Groundswell Conservancy secured funding from Madison Community Foundation to help diversify the conservation field. The Conservation Academy (originally called the Conservation Graduate Crew) helps outdoors-minded young adults learn crucial job skills to help them pursue careers in the conservation field. This program was jointly developed by Groundswell Conservancy and Operation Fresh Start (OFS). It’s modeled after the successful OFS program that prepares young adults for careers in construction.

The $45,000 grant from the Madison Community Foundation will cover the cost of professional certifications for crew members over the next three years. This includes training in chainsaw safety, pesticide application, prescribed fire, and emergency response protocols.

Tom Linfield, Vice President of Community Impact at Madison Community Foundation (MCF), says the effort will broaden the field of conservation to include traditionally underrepresented groups. “MCF is proud to support this important work to reduce barriers that young people and people of color face in getting jobs as land managers and ecological technicians,” he says. MCF recently featured this new program in their spring newsletter.

Kaden Fischer of Madison is a Conservation Academy participant who is eyeing a career as a park ranger. “It’s a chance to work hard outside and make money at the same time,” says Fischer, 19. “Just getting this much exercise is awesome.”

Cory Rich, Operation Fresh Start Conservation and Construction Manager, says partners like Groundswell are excited to work with OFS since 80 percent of program participants are people of color and 73 percent are from low-income backgrounds.

“These crews are bringing some badly needed diversity to the conservation field,” he says. But it’s no picnic. Shifts are long, with crew members putting in 10-hour days, four days a week and then getting 3-day weekends. Timeliness and enthusiasm for the job are demanded.

“We make sure they know if you want to make this a career, it’s going to involve a lot of hard work,” says Caroline Zimmerman, conservation crew supervisor for OFS.

The first Conservation Academy Crew began work this past fall in partnership with the Wisconsin DNR, City of Madison Engineering, Dane County Parks, UW Arboretum, the Nature Conservancy, and Groundswell Conservancy to complete important conservation projects at local parks, trails and natural areas.

Groundswell is thrilled to be part of the Writing the Land project in 2022. Writing the Land is a collaborative project between local land trusts and artists to help raise awareness for the preservation of land, ecosystems, and biodiversity. We’re excited to introduce you to the two talented poets we’re partnering with.

Meet Lisa Marie Brimmer. They are a poet, essayist, theatre artist, and our new partner at Westport Prairie. Having grown up in southern Wisconsin, Lisa Marie feels a special connection to the land here. They will write poems inspired by the rich natural history and diverse wildlife of Westport Prairie.

Angie Trudell Vasquez is a poet, writer, performer, and activist. She is also the current City of Madison Poet Laureate. In this role, she writes poems, teaches workshops, gives talks, and helps cultivate young poets. As Groundswell’s Writing the Land partner, Angie will write poems inspired by Patrick Marsh and its native prairie, oak savanna, and wetland habitats.

We are honored to work with both of these talented writers and can’t wait to share their poems with you, our Groundswell supporters, later this year!


This past Thursday we teamed up with over 300 Patrick Marsh Middle School students, teachers, and volunteers to plant 25 acres of prairie at Patrick Marsh. This prairie overlooks Patrick Marsh and will offer new and beautiful views. So many hands were involved with the planting. It truly could not have been done without all of the generous support from our partners.

The prairie seed used in the planting was collected locally within Dane County and donated to us by Ron Endres. From collecting the seed and processing it, to weighing, bagging, labeling, and distributing the seed, this alone was an incredible task. We cannot thank Ron enough for the seed donation used in this planting and we know we’re not the only ones.

The prairie seed getting ready to be mixed for the planting.

Once we had the seed, we needed to figure out how to plant it! With the help of around 300 Patrick Marsh Middle School students and their teachers, along with dozens of our trusty volunteers, we were able to get the job done. Thanks to all of the students who lent hundreds of helping hands and smiling faces!

A special thanks goes out to Vincent Brandl, teacher extraordinaire at Patrick Marsh Middle School, who was instrumental in this planting. This project would have been impossible without his expertise and student wrangling skills.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this prairie planting happen! Photo credit: Roberta Herschleb