Scott Bargender has been working with trees for 30 years. Scott owns and operates Living in Harmony Art Studio where he builds custom made rustic log furniture and art from the natural world. Scott grew up in central Wisconsin on a dairy farm.
Dan Bartmann has lived off the grid since he was a child and now runs otherpower.com from a small wind-powered workshop in Northern Colorado. Otherpower.com has built over 100 wind turbines and helped countless people build their own. Dan teaches small wind courses with the MREA and is co-author of the book Homebrew Wind Power.
Terry Beck is a retired English teacher and homesteader of 35 years who has carved over 200 spoons in the last two years while walking his dog near his home in Avalanche, Wisconsin. Tom Wheeler carves spoons when he isn’t making wooden chairs and turning wooden bowls or farming. A knowledgeable and experienced woodsman, Tom lives near Liberty Pole, Wisconsin.
Michael Beckel has been an organic farm owner since 1974. He has been wild harvesting elderberries for 20 years and grown cultivated elderberries for the last 7 years. He became serious about growing elderberries commercially when he read about their ant viral properties 15 years ago. He currently has a fifth of an acre in full production and another acre that will be producing this summer. He was fortunate to attend the First International Symposium on Elderberries in 2012 where medical researchers from 20 countries explained their findings. He is excited about growing elderberries and wants to share.
Bjorn Bergman is an avid cyclist and gardener. Throughout the past 6 years Bjorn has worked with and encouraged local food systems on CSA farms, through the Farm-to-School program, or the Viroqua Food Co-op. His favorite foods to grow are dry beans and greens. His latest focus is on growing dry beans so that he can save seed and reproduce a true seed for the next year. At the kitchen table he is happiest when faced with a huge salad.
Larisa Walk and Bob Dahse are the co-authors of “Feeding Ourselves– The Four-Season Pantry from Plant to Plate.” As children of Great Depression era parents, they both became vegetarians and whole foodies in the 1970’s, inspired by reading about the good life of Helen and Scott Nearing. Their energy consciousness led them to an “off-grid” life, which they have spent over three decades mastering and refining. They currently live in a PV powered, passive solar, strawbale home in Winona County, MN. You can see the destination of their homesteading journey on their website, GeoPathfinder.com.
Shelly Brenneman is a member of the Driftless Folk School Board and works as the Executive Director for the Valley Stewardship Network and as an instructor at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. She grew up in Iowa and was fortunate to have avid conservationist grandparents who brought her on many wilderness trips, including annual treks to the Driftless Shelly has worked in conservation education programs in Iowa, Wisconsin, Alaska, Colorado and Costa Rica. Her work focuses on how good stewardship can support the ecological health of the land and water while producing healthy food for communities.
Meredith Bridges is a fiber artist who works with natural materials and traditional production techniques. Her work is rooted in craft traditions with emphasis placed on intricate handwork. Since studying Art Education at the University of Georgia, Meredith has worked at a number of craft based organizations including: Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, John C. Campbell Folk School, Yestermorrow Design/Build School and Tillers International. Her current focus is designing leather goods for her travel line, Nomad Travel Gear. Born and raised in Atlanta, Meredith now resides in Charleston, SC.
Martha Buche’s head, heart and hands are always active. She dabbles in drawing, knitting, wild foods, toy making, basketry, jewelry, dyeing, calligraphy, needle felting, rug hooking, herbal remedies, sculpture, woodworking, embossed copper foil, photography, native crafts, printmaking, hammered copper, gardening, copper bells and chimes, painting, sewing, dancing, candle making, teaching and writing poetry. She is the Parent-Child Teacher at Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School and also teaches and volunteers at Youth Initiative High School. Her immediate and extended family think she is a little crazy sometimes, but they tolerate it all because she gives good presents and it is never boring! She is of Potawatomi Heritage-The Keepers of the Fire- which is quite appropriate for the copper bowl course she will be teaching.
Linda Conroy is an herbalist, cheese maker and whole food aficionado and community organizer. She dedicates her life to connecting with the natural world. After apprenticing on several goat and herbal farms, Linda continues to make food and medicine from scratch in her own kitchen. Among the many things she makes is cheese. She has been doing so for close to 20 years and enjoys sharing this and many other lost arts. Linda has a certificate in permaculture design, a degree in social work, has studied with Isla Burgess of the International College of Herbal Medicine, and has completed residential herbal apprenticeships with Susun Weed at the Wise Woman Center as well as at Ravencroft Gardens. She is the founder of Moonwise Herbs, the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference and Wild Eats: A Movement to Promote Whole, Local and Wild Foods in Community. Linda is a vibrant woman who continually seeks to deepen her connection to the natural world! www.moonwiseherbs.com.
Kathleen Crittenden is a retired professor of sociology, a research designer and data analyst still involved in AIDS prevention programs in Malawi and Chile. She and her husband Kelvin Rodolfo operate Pheasant Walk Permaculture in Viroqua township, in which they have embarked on a quest for sustainability, a process that involves all aspects of family and community life.
Andrew Gorrill is an educator who has taught overseas, at an environmental education center, and in classrooms since 1996. Currently he is at home teaching and learning with his two children. In 2004, he and his wife designed and helped to build their house home on 50 acres where he spends his time working their small homestead, gardening, cooking, cutting firewood, building, woodworking, and caring for animals.
Jacob Hundt grew up on a Driftless Region dairy farm near Coon Valley. He was one of the founding students of the Youth Initiative High School in Viroqua, where he currently teaches humanities, sciences, and more. He attended Deep Springs College in California, where he worked as a cowboy before receiving a BA in History from the American University in Bulgaria and an MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago. He is a founding member of the Driftless Folk School and currently President of the board of trustees.
Rikardo Jahnke has been orcharding since 1996, and grafting longer than that. He has been selling apples, cider, jams and other value added products at Viroqua Farmer’s Market since 2000. He gets great joy from satisfied customers who are “fruit explorers”. He grows 53 varieties of apples. Rikardo lives in Crawford County, WI.
Naakala Jean Gradé a storyteller, youngest of 10, grew up enjoying her mom’s butter, bread and homemade soap supplemented with their acre garden and foraging in Kettle Moraine. Dr Gradé worked as a large animal veterinarian in central Wisconsin for 5 yrs before shifting to NE Uganda where she lived 15yrs until June 2013, with a season in Belgium to attain her Ethnobotany PhD based on her community development work with veterinary healers in several pastoralist tribes. She recently hung her shingle as the Driftless Vet, an on-farm veterinarian for livestock and working animals with an Amish, organic and homesteaders focus.
Dan Johnson is the owner of Midwest Earth Builders (MEB) and is a founding member of Driftless Homewrights. He is a residential building contractor providing new home and remodeling services with a focus towards energy efficiency. In 2008 Midwest Earth Builder’s masonry brick was recognized as one of the top ten sustainable building products by Sustainable Industries Magazine. Dan has also consulted and worked on some of Iowa and Wisconsin’s most innovative green buildings. He lives on a small farm in northern Crawford county where he raises a few steers, grows raspberries, restores prairie and fixes old farm buildings. www.midwestearthbuilders.com
Maureen Karlstad never tires of making pottery on the wheel. And she never gets tired of all of the aspects of the work—from the wedging of the clay to the throwing on the wheel to the trimming and the loading of the kiln and glazing and firing. At times she can get very frustrated—when pots crack, when glazes run, when kilns don’t fire correctly—but that is frustration in the moment and not frustration with the process. The process is a part of her life, a part of her being and something that makes her feel truly alive.
Debra Ketchum-Jircik has been hand papermaking for over 20 years, working with the medium in a variety of ways and have been fortunate to study with generous teachers . She enjoys sharing art through teaching and organizing/working on collaborative community art projects and environmental installations. Her current creative practice reflects her interest in minimizing her environmental impact. Her most recent creative forays have been into natural dyeing and growing her own dye plants including Japanese Indigo and eco-printing as they relate to her handmade paper. She is the in-house papermaker and co-director of the Mill Paper and Book Arts, a new Wisconsin organization dedicated to educating about hand papermaking, fine printmaking and book arts. Her Circle of Life Studio is in Eagle River Wisconsin.
Amy Klusmeier is a lifelong fisher and is relatively new to fly fishing. Currently the Vice President of the Southern Wisconsin chapter of Trout Unlimited (SWTU), she coordinates educational programming for the chapter, has served as a River Buddy (guide) at the SWTU Women’s Fly Fishing Clinics, taught beginner fly tying lessons, and removed piles of invasive plants from stream banks during SWTU workdays. A self proclaimed “citizen scientist,” Amy has a passion for phenology and stream ecology and is a volunteer stream monitor for the Valley Stewardship Network.
Charlie Koenen has been beekeeping for 12 years in urban, suburban, and rural settings. He invented beepods-a vented top bar hive and manufactures them. He teaches folks how to keep bees in a gentler safer manner that is easier on the bees and easier for you.
Heidi Krattiger is a constant gardener, forager, cook, and baker. She takes great pride in eating food found in the local region and preserving as much as possible for the winter. Over the past 7 years Heidi has worked, volunteered, or worker-shared at various farms around the state and in Canada. Her favorite crops to grow are garlic and greens.
Jess Kreuger’s experience comes together from a variety of disciplines. Jess has worked on and off as a doula & midwive’s assistant since 2002. She is a mother, activist, herbalist and zine writer. She loves to make nourishing food, share meals, garden, and offer her skills in humble service. Jess lives in Viroqua with her two sons.
Kerry Lambertson lives in northern Minnesota and builds boats, furniture, and houses out of native woods. He is passionate about wilderness travel, sustainable lifeways, and creative problem-solving through handcraft. Kerry believes that creating with our hands the items we use on a day-to-day basis deepens and enriches our experience of living, and connects us to our environment in joyful and meaningful ways.
Ed Lemar is an award-winning singer/songwriter, playwright, multi-instrumentalist, wedding officiant, story teller, & festival organizer based in the Driftless area of Southwest Wisconsin. He has been touring for over 10 years with a plethora of creative projects. He often incorporates puppetry, light shows, dance, and performance art in many of his shows. Ed just released his 11th recording in 2012. His music will Ed-lighten you.
Tom Lukens serves as the Board Chair for the Valley Stewardship Network. He fell in love with this area in the early 70’s and in 2003 was fortunate to find a property here with 90 acres and a mile of the West Fork running through it. As a semi-retired horticulture professional, he now lives in a “green home” built by fine local craftsmen and is grateful to practice stewardship on the incredibly biodiverse property that he and his partner call Nature Nooks Retreat. He has planted several acres of prairie, many wildlife friendly trees and shrubs and a few hundred organic fruit and nut trees. He cooperatively created some of the state’s first non-game riparian habitat for turtles and snakes, as well as trout, and will soon include more for amphibians and birds. Tom’s dream for Nature Nooks is to serve as a prototype environmental classroom for all ages, educating and inspiring more efforts to preserve and protect the unique Kickapoo Valley as well as other such natural treasures.
Waleed Mahmoud had a passion for cooking since helping his grandmother cook Arabic food at a very young age. Since graduating from culinary school he has cooked under Chef Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant & Chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry to learn French cooking technique. Upon returning to the area he has put an emphasis on working with local food and cooking international food using French techniques, even opening a street food truck focusing on world street food.
Jon Passi is an educator and advocate for alternative energy and sustainable technologies, with over 30 years construction experience who moved to the Viroqua in 2006 in order to build an alternative energy, well-insulated, off-grid home, utilizing photovoltaics and batteries for power, an efficient woodstove and passive solar for hear, solar for water and radiant floor heat, and a windmill to pump water. Now that the house is done, he cuts, hauls, and burns wood, designs PV systems and installs solar panels, writes poems, plays music, and tries to live light on the land.
Laura Poe was originally from Kansas City, Missouri. She studied at the University of Missouri with a degree in nutritional science and dietetics, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Laura has a varied background, including clinical dietetics, eating disorders, community nutrition, WIC, food service, and supplements/herbal medicines. She now has her own nutritional consulting business, teaches classes ,and makes herbal medicines. She has a passion for traditional foods and vibrant living. Laura loves to ferment foods, practice yoga, be outside and read about food and nutrition!
Roy Rakobitsch grew up on an organic farm, has lived off grid for 14 years and has been involved with wind energy and solar electric (PV) design for the last 22 years. He holds two NABCEP certifications, PV installer, and Small Wind installer level 3. In addition to working for international turbine manufactures, Roy has contracted with many other installers around North America through his company Windsine (est. 2007) which has allowed him to work on hundreds of sites annually all over North America – having tons of fun, developing solutions, and making wind energy work reliably. Roy and his wife currently live in rural Viola on an off-grid homestead that is powered by the wind and sun.
Cindy Ramseyer currently lives in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin, working with landowners to provide land management recommendations, and conduct native plant inventories and forest health surveys. Prior to moving to Wisconsin, Cindy worked in the Great Plains and Lower Midwest providing invasive species and botanical surveys for different state and federal agencies. In 2013, the handbook, “Reading the Driftless Landscape”, was published to provide landowners a sense of the various historic and environmental issues that influence the landscape today.
Michelle Rasmussen has been blessed to live her passion of training horses and people since 2004 when she began studying and using Parelli Natural Horsemanship. As a mother of four young children at the time, her goal was to teach the children to be safe, confident and understand how horses think. Her goals have expanded to teaching others who want to learn to be natural with their animals. She has trained many horses and has five of four different breeds of her own. Each horse teaches her daily the importance of growing as a natural horseman while having fun and using her God-given gifts to inspire, encourage and help her students and horses. Her husband of 31 years, Brian, is supportive and appreciative of her business and the horses. www.morningstarstables.com
Ellen Reyher and Ira Slater are both passionate about creating with clay and inspiring others to do the same. They continue to study and explore the endless possibilities that this medium offers! They teach together at the Ark in Viroqua and elsewhere. They create their art at the Otter Creek Art Retreat Studio/Gallery in La Farge Wisconsin and in the Florida Keys during the winter.
Marcelle Richards is a shamanic practitioner and writer in Madison, WI. Her love affair with the power of words is rooted in their power to inspire change and healing. She graduated in 2008 with a B.S. in Zoology from UW Madison, and has been an apprentice under shamanic healer and mediator Myron Eshowsky since April 2013. A former freelancer for local publications such as Isthmus and Our Lives Magazine, her energy is now devoted to the creation of sacred stories. Marcelle’s interests include cultivating inspirited creative community and rekindling relationships with Mother Earth and nature, the great healer.
Lowell Rheinheimer After struggling through the difficult months-long process of learning how to prune from professional orchardists in my 20s and then spending several years doing production pruning, he eventually moved on to providing custom pruning for people with old apple trees. Over the years he has pruned (rescued, in some cases) thousands of apple trees and have a strong grasp of the concepts and practices involved. He loves bringing life back to these old trees and love sharing the art of pruning with their owners.
Kelvin Rodolfo, Professor Emeritus of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois-Chicago, where he taught since 1966. Retired to Viroqua in 2007, where he is actively involved in protecting its environment, and where he and his wife Kathy Crittenden are permaculture farmers.
Liz Rog is a community songleader in the worldwide Ubuntu tradition: ‘I am because we are.’ A local leader in grassroots education, activism, and community building, Liz is currently working through the Community Rights movement to prevent frac sand mining in the region. Above all, Liz is passionate about helping us remember together that singing is our original universal language, our collective birthright, and for that we need many more songleaders in many more towns. She and her family run Fern Hollow Cabin outside of Decorah.
Dennis Rooney and his wife started dairy farming in 1966. They started managed rotational grazing in 1999, rotating bred heifers on approximately 63 acres of valley pasture with a creek running through the center. In April 2009, he began working for Southwest Badger RC&D as a Grazing Specialist/Crawford County Grazing Initiative Coordinator, helping land owners with EQIP cost-sharing projects, figuring stocking rates, fencing, watering, and seeding needs and writing grazing plans. He now also works as a grazing specialist for the Valley Stewardship Network, Kickapoo Grazing Initiative and the Southwest Wisconsin Grassland and Stream Conservation Area. Myles Saigh is the owner of Green Building Milwaukee since 2002. Myles is a professional natural building carpenter/woodworker. He built the first 3 story straw bale home in Milwaukee. Myles, has worked extensively, with clay, cob, straw, timber and also conventional materials. Myles managed the Lama Foundation Building Internship program for two years and loves to explore and share his knowledge of natural building.
Robert Schulz and his family are homesteading in rural Hillsboro, WI. Features of their ‘New Traditions Homestead’ include natural building, alternative energy and water systems, organic market produce and gardening, draft horse power, and a working blacksmith shop. Robert has been blacksmithing for over 17 years doing custom commissions, and has been teaching for 13 years. He is a co-founder of the Driftless Folk School, hosts interns, and holds many workshops annually, intent on sharing skills and life experiences with others.
Meghan Smith’s love of wool and sheep stems from her mother’s days as a shepherd in rural Idaho. She enjoys weaving, sewing, crochet, and embroidery, and has been experimenting with wet felting for two years. Her most recent experiments include nuno felting and resist felting to create hats and even a full-length woolen coat. She currently lives in Bloomington, Indiana where she studies traditional handmade textiles from Central Asia and the Middle East in Indiana University’s Folklore Studies program.
Mark Telshaw is a third generation woodworker/cabinet maker with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Studio Arts form the University of Minnesota. With 30 years plus of working in roles from builder, designer and project manager in the area of custom projects. These projects are in the fields of residential, commercial and theater.
Tom Thrall is the former state wildlife biologist for the USDA Natural Resources Service. His primary work was promoting fish and wildlife habitat on private lands. He currently does natural resources conservation consulting work. Tom is a dedicated fly fisher who has many years of fly fishing experience. He is a certified DNR fly fishing instructor and has experience teaching stream ecology, fly tying, and fly fishing. He is an active member of the Southern Wisconsin Trout Unlimited Chapter. His favorite places to fish are the Wisconsin Driftless Area and the mountains of Colorado. He currently resides in Madison.
Nick Tomkins is the founder and principle of NS Stoneworks, a Madison, WI based design/build firm specializing in custom stone construction. Versed in both private and civic design installation, NS Stoneworks has been recognized for their ability to work with extremely large pieces of stone to create complex forms. Tomkins’ work blurs the line between art and architecture with creative, site specific work. Most recently he and his team built the Centennial Arch in Milwaukee’s Riverside Park. He is currently working on an eight piece sculptural series within the same park. The sculpture series will be comprised of geologically unique cairns representing the significant time periods in Wisconsin’s geological history.He is co-chair of the Stone Foundation.
Jared Torkelson is fascinated with human powered tools and doing things by hand, whether that be sewing, leather working, woodworking, cooking, or cycling. He was an intern with the Folk School during the summer of 2013 and moved back to the area with his wife shortly thereafter. Jared has been sewing by hand for most of his adult life and continues to patch his clothes long after most people would have retired them. When he isn’t doing any of the above, he enjoys walking long slacklines.
Nicholas WazeeGale has been a lifelong student of nature observation, Earth-sufficient lifeways, and traditional craft. Through a rural upbringing, travels in South and North America, and a year’s time immersed in learning primitive skills and lifeway in Northern Wisconsin he has developed a philosophy of life lived in reflection of the local ecosystem and supported primarily by it’s resources and gifts. Sharing this philosophy with the community through workshops in wilderness and traditional skills and awarenesses has become a focus for him. He conducts programs at the KVR and the Folk School and feels these classes provide a vehicle to move people toward a closer relationship with the Earth.
Ann Wegner LeFort, for the last 15 years has contributed to the region’s ever-expanding appetite for local food and sustainable agriculture via working in restaurants, volunteering on CSA farms, leading reskilling workshops through Transition Milwaukee, and teaching food preservation and cooking classes for more than a decade. She is a co-founder of Slow Food WISE. She currently owns The Mindful Palate: School of Thought and Taste through which she continues to educate, empower city-dwellers to produce and preserve food, and encourage people to do so with great consideration for mind and body and the health of our families, land, and communities. She’s an ambitious backyard gardener and aspiring “urban homesteader” and enjoys digging around in her garden, writing, crafting, and camping. She has found that a lifestyle that deeply involves food naturally involves culture, art, and love.
Dodie Whitaker is a multifaceted singer, actress and vocal coach who loves to sing and create a diversity of musical styles with others. Before relocating to Viroqua in 2009, she spent fifteen years performing in the Chicago area, teaching and leading vocal workshops and master classes. She is a proud member of the Ridgetones, has performed frequent roles with the Underground Players and Viroqua Women’s Theater, and has recently added Community Song Leader to her unique list of artistic endeavors. She currently maintains a private voice studio in her home, and is excited to return as an instructor with DFS.
Jim Young has been teaching Raja Yoga and meditation for over forty years. Jim hold a Masters in Comparative Psychology and Eastern Studies from the University of Scranton. He has conducted seminars in wellness, stress management, and the Yoga Sutras of Paranjali. In addition he has designed personal retreat experiences and taught families how to prepare healthy meals. He is a student of the various medical traditions including homeopathy and Ayruvedic. His vocation was as a Director of Human Resources in a variety of organizations.
Scoggin Zimmerman for the past twelve years has been dedicated to the preservation and passing on of hand crafts and primitive skills, including: European willow basketry, blacksmithing, harvest and preparation of wild foods, rope making, friction fire, and buck-skinning.