What We Do

Driftless Folk School is a regional center for the  preservation, promotion  and training of  traditional crafts, the art of homesteading, natural building, energy self-sufficiency, sustainable farming, animal husbandry, and wilderness skills.  Crafting connections~Creating Community

Our Mission

The Driftless Folk School is a community of lifelong learners cultivating personal and cultural resilience through hands-on educational experiences.

Linking the wisdom of the past with aspirations for the future.

We strive to accomplish our mission by offering experiences in agriculture, natural history, arts and crafts, and traditions of rural Wisconsin and other cultures. This includes offering:

  • Practical guidance for farmsteading practices and land stewardship
  • Family activities, children’s workshops
  • Traditional and contemporary skills and craft that are passed on through inter-generational teaching
  • A non-competitive and supportive learning environment

_SAM9492The Heart of a Folk School

As the sun fills the hills and valleys, the first of a handful of strangers comes to the door. One after the other, people fill the room, greeting each other with exchanges of names and the towns they’re from. Eager to gain a new skill or hone a familiar one, students from all corners of Wisconsin and the Midwest circle around the materials and tools, talking until the instructor opens the class with “Welcome.“

This scene could describe almost any class at Driftless Folk School. What follows is a wide array of different scenarios, from a class on beekeeping or cheese making to classes on blacksmithing, wild edibles,

carpentry skills or weaving. Other than their beginning, something they have in common is that people get to know one another throughout the class, sharing tools, techniques, stories and then food as they sit down to share a meal. The line between instructor and student fades and a small community is made through working together.

When N.F.S. Grundtvig created the idea of a folk school in the mid 1800s, his belief was that they should be non competitive. He thought students and instructors should learn from one another, and one should not hold more importance than the other. This, on a broad scale, is a familiar story. As humans, how we learned for so much of our shared history has been from one another. We’ve learned from our neighbors and relatives, from people in our community. For so long we have learned from each other how to make tools, build homes, secure and preserve food, read the sky, what plant is good medicine, and how to make and mend the very clothes we wear. Folk schools help re-establish this connection to how we learn and to our rich human past.

Making connections is what I believe is a folk school’s greatest strength. A folk school not only connects us to our past but it also helps us to connect to the materials we use and therefore to our environment, to our food, our shelter, and our own survival. In the process we establish or strengthen connections to one another, and to our own potential. This is why I think it is so gratifying to complete a folk school class. It seems so familiar. It makes us feel human. And in the fast-paced world we live in where disconnections are common, to feel human and connected to our environment, our selves and one another – is welcome.

– Mark Sandberg