I don’t say that lightly. Green is all the rage. Businesses are green (or they are not), travel is green (or it’s not), schools, people, intentions, habits, on and on….But Green County is literally really bright green.
I drove from Madison to Monroe yesterday afternoon to attend the second in a series of community picnics on the lawn of the Monroe Art Center. The series is called “Stirring the Pot,” and was funded in part with a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council. It was a gorgeous summer evening, and the drive there was delightful. Cara Carper, a Green County Extension Agent, told me on the phone before hand to turn right at the cheese factory onto County Road N. There were more cheese factories than I could count. Green County could also rightly be called Cheese County.
Families were gathered on blankets enjoying dinner in the glow of sunshine. I settled in to watch a guest chef from Blackhawk Tech’s culinary program demonstrate how to make a balsamic reduction sauce, which she suggested could be drizzled over whatever is in season at your local farmers market. A couple tables were piled high with fresh produce and the farmers were there to tell you about. I brought home some blue potatoes and the season’s early broccoli.
The gathering drew together an inspiring, and inspired, community that is growing more organized in its regional efforts to promote better nutrition in school lunchrooms, fight Wisconsin’s obesity problem, and break up the rural food deserts by connecting farmers with consumers. I was happy to meet Representative Brett Davis, who was also there to show his support and give his own cooking demo.
The event’s organizers hope to get people thinking more about the food they eat and to make more “sustainable” choices. Sustainable, at this point, being sort of another word for green. Which is what I was thinking about as I drove home. The sun was just on the horizon and as I headed north, back into Dane County, the fields were a fire of green. It was breathtaking.
I pulled over at the crest of one hill to marvel. A farm dog ran toward my car as I stepped out to take a picture. “He’s friendly,” the dog’s owner assured me from a distance. “It’s just so pretty, I couldn’t help myself,” I explained as I lifted my camera to capture the moment.
The farmer nodded and smiled.
By Jessica Becker
Director of Public Programs
Wisconsin Humanities Council