4th Annual Barn Dance, featuring Growing Power’s Will Allen, supports CALS program for beginning farmers

Tickets are now available to an old-fashioned barn dance celebrating Wisconsin farms, locally-sourced food and our rural communities, Saturday, September 22, 2012 at the historic Saxon Homestead Farm in Cleveland near the shore of Lake Michigan in Manitowoc County. The fourth-annual event will run from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Klessig-Heimerl families’ 150-year-old, fully restored barn.

Event organizers will offer a fresh feature this year with Will Allen, founder and CEO Milwaukee’s Growing Power, at a Chautauqua gathering in the main tent at 5:30. This former professional basketball player and longtime farmer is well recognized as a major transformer of agriculture and food policy. Allen received the MacArthur ‘Genius Award’ in 2008. He joined the First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010 with her launch of the White House’s “Let’s Move” campaign to address issues impacting America’s youth and the increasing risk of obesity. Most recently, in 2012 he received the NCAA Theodore Roosevelt Award, the highest the National Collegiate Athletic Association can bestow on a former collegiate athlete.

Using methods developed over his lifetime, Allen trains community members to become community farmers.

Liz Klessig said her family is hosting this event for the fourth year in a row to bring Wisconsinites together to talk about and celebrate Wisconsin’s agricultural traditions and rural communities, adding “I’m so excited to hear about Will Allen’s journey and what he’s learned along the way about the power of growing our own food in urban settings. Once again we’ll offer locally sourced food and beverages, and live music, in a festive atmosphere in our barn.”

“We’re very pleased to see Wisconsin moving forward to preserve agricultural lands,” she added. “The Working Lands Program establishes a new program to provide up to 50% of the cost of purchasing agricultural conservation easements, including transaction costs. Through the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) program, the state will provide funding to cooperating local governments or non-profit organizations to purchase easements from willing landowners. Land with an agricultural conservation easement cannot be developed for any purpose that would prevent its use for agriculture.”

“Wisconsin is a great place to live because the prowess of its agricultural industry creates a beautiful setting of safe, vibrant, rural communities that we want to preserve,” Klessig explained. “We need events like this to build effective partnerships and come together to celebrate our successes.”

Anyone with an interest in rural communities is welcome. Tickets are $85 for couples, $50 per person and $20 for students, and are tax-deductible donations that benefit the three organizations sponsoring the celebration. The farm is located at 15621 South Union Road, Cleveland, Wis.