It’s the count down to the Nov. 8th elections - not a pretty sight. Vicious attacks, not only on the positions and policies of one’s opponent, but on his or her core values and moral character as well. The more extreme the allocations become the more deeply the candidates’ supporters dig in reinforcing opinions they’ve already held about both their champion and the nefarious enemy. It seems we’re all willing to bend our principles somewhat to rationalize the shortcomings of those we favor. It made me wonder if there are any common, fundamental principles we folks of Southwest Wisconsin embrace – ones we’re not willing to bend.
Recently, I briefly escaped the din of campaign noise, and in the quiet one such common principle became clear. The opportunity came during a visit to an oasis of core values right here in Iowa County.
Andy and Caitlyn Hatch of Uplands Cheese offered a small group of us a delightful tour of their operation. Their award-winning, internationally recognized cheese is the physical embodiment of core values carefully nurtured. These values stem from a reverential care for the land itself. Rotationally grazed, chemical free, diverse with grasses, legumes and wildflowers, their carefully nurtured pasturelands are the foundation of a chain of production including raw milk, fresh curds, green cheese and in time an aged product noted for its excellence. A simple, yet profound progression that respectfully works in harmony with nature’s rhythms.
While on the tour I had the additional good fortune to strike up a conversation with Gary Zimmer, one of the founders of Midwestern BioAg. It’s not too surprising that he would be visiting folks like the Hatches. Three decades ago Gary developed an agricultural approach know as “biological farming.” Like the operation at Uplands Cheese this method begins with the soil. Balancing chemistry, biology and soil structure with the rhythms of the land creates rich earth brimming with life and improves both crop yields and food quality.
Here in this profoundly beautiful corner of Wisconsin regardless of political persuasion we folks of the driftless area do indeed share core values. They include a respect for the very earth we stand on, the soil that provides us sustenance. It’s our joy and our responsibility to nurture it as it has nurtured us. After all, where else are we to go? We’re here forever… Earthbound.