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Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal Archive

Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by
Crystal Siemers-Peterman

2811 Agriculture Dr. PO Box 8911
Madison WI 53708-8911
Phone (608) 224-5115

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Powerful and Versatile
Sep. 30, 2016

During my media interviews I try to bring along visuals that correlate to my topic. Since this month focused on soybeans, I had a diverse selection of goodies to showcase.

For food, soynuts and edamame were the first on my list. Both of these snacks are packed with protein and low in saturated fat. The difference between the two foods is that edamame are harvested earlier than soynuts, so they stay green in color and have a bean like shape. Other snack options made with soy are graham crackers, hummus and chips.

For household items, I brought along soy candles and soy wax melts. Paint and crayons would have been other options for products made with soybeans. The beans can also be used to make newspaper ink and biodiesel fuel.

From food to household goods, many things we use every day involve soy.

Food for America
Sep. 29, 2016

On Tuesday, I was surrounded by 600 4th grade students at Spring Grove Dairy in Brodhead. They were on a field trip to a local farm to learn about the different aspects of Wisconsin agriculture.

Each station they visited touched on a different topic Ė from dairy goats to hogs, they learned how diverse the agriculture industry is here in the state. When they visited my station, the students were able to learn about the role of pollinators in agriculture.

To teach them about this topic, the class became a hive. Every students became a worker bee and I served as their queen, while the teacher was the drone. One by one, the drone released the workers to buzz around a nearby field and collect pollen/nectar from Wisconsin grown crops.

Many students could be heard buzzing around and they were surprised to learn how many different foods we grow that rely on bees for pollination. As the kids learn Tuesday, from pumpkins to cherries, bees play an important role in Wisconsin agriculture.

The Bean of Many Trades
Sep. 24, 2016

By now, you have probably caught on that soybeans are quite powerful for both our farmerís fields and our bodies. But did you know that these small beans have made quite an impact on Wisconsinís agricultural industry and across the globe?

They may in fact, have more of an impact abroad since two out of every three rows of Wisconsin soybeans are exported across the globe. The main export market is China, which is where the plant originated from. Back in 1765, Benjamin Franklin was the first to bring soybeans to the United States. He imported them from China and the beans have grown into a crop raised in many of the 50 states.

Currently, soybeans represent Wisconsinís 4th largest agricultural commodity, with a value of $795 million. Although we may be exporting a majority of our beans, the effect of the beans can still be felt across the state. Soybeans are used in all aspects of the food chain from soybean meal for livestock to tofu for humans.

Tour de Brown County
Sep. 23, 2016

Trout Springs, Duck Creek and Mona Rose were the three wineries I toured today in Brown County.

These tours comprised my monthly event with Brown County leading up to the 70th Alice in Dairyland finals. Wisconsin is home to over 100 different wineries, each unique with their own special blends and ambiance.

We started our tour at Trout Springs. It was Brown Countyís first winery and they grow 12-15 different types of grapes in their vineyards. Just by looking at the vines, it was clear harvest was just around the corner because the vines were full of plump, purple grapes. Wine makers track sugar levels, acidity and taste to make sure they harvest the grapes at the right time for the highest quality wines.

The second winery we toured was Duck Creek. This newer winery opened in 2013. Jim, the owner, started off brewing beer nearly 20 years ago and slowly made his transition into making wine. He also grows some of his own grapes. The vines grown throughout the state are a special cold-weather variety that allows them to endure Wisconsin winters.

Finally, we finished our tour at Mona Rose winery. This winery has more of an urban setting and produces 15,000 bottles of wine each year. They also have a special cold room which helps them produce high quality white wines.

While the tour was a great taste of Wisconsin wineries, there are many more to explore. To find a winery in your area, visit the Wisconsin Winery Association website.

Good for Us, Good for Soil
Sep. 19, 2016

Soybeans can help us build strong muscles, but did you know they can also build strong soil for our farmers?

As part of the legume family, soybeans can support a special type of good bacteria called Bradyrhizobium. The bacteria itself lives in nodules located on the soybean root. These small white nodules can easily be seen with the naked eye (photo below). Bradyrhizobium is known for its ability to take unusable nitrogen located in the soil and change it into a form of nitrogen that the soybean plant can use. This process is known as nitrogen fixation and is a big benefit of growing soybeans.

Often, the bacteria produces more fixed-nitrogen than the plant can use, so the excess gets deposited back into the soil. This means a soybean field often has more usable nitrogen in it after harvest than when the beans were first planted. These incredible beans help farmers keep their fieldís soil nutrients in balance and farmers will use the crop in crop-rotation with corn or hay.

Alsum Potatoes
Sep. 16, 2016

A little rain cannot keep Wisconsin farmers out of the field today. This morning I was watching the potato harvest at Alsum farms in Arena, Wisconsin.

Alsum produce started in 1973 in Friesland as a potato repackaging facility. Over the years, the business steadily grew and by 1992 the family was growing 750 acres. Currently Larry Alsum grows potatoes on over 2,000 acres mainly in southern Wisconsin. They mainly grow russets, reds and goldens, but also have other types of specialty potatoes.

Surprisingly, Wisconsin actually ranks 3rd in the nation for potato production. This may be due to our stateís sandy soil which is great for potato plants. Last year alone Wisconsin produced 2.7 billion pounds of potatoes. These potatoes are either processed at our stateís canning factories or packaged as fresh potatoes all year long.

To learn more about Wisconsinís potato industry visit Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association website.

Green and Gold
Sep. 15, 2016

Part of doing a media campaign includes traveling many miles between television and radio stations.

As I have been cruising through the Wisconsin country side trying to make my next appointment on time, I have noticed a change occurring in our soybean fields. They are turning from green to gold and I do not think it has to do with the Packers being back in season.

Soybeans naturally dry out at the end of their life-cycle and turn that golden color we are all familiar with. This drying action allows the plant to drop its leaves, which in turn lets air flow between the crop rows. The movement of air past the bean pods dries out the beans making them ready for harvest. Typically, Wisconsin soybeans are harvested between the last two weeks of September and first two weeks of October.

Pretty soon, I will be driving by combines harvesting our stateís soybean crop. Let us hope we break last yearís record harvest of 1.79 million bushels.

From the Farm to Zoo
Sep. 11, 2016

Did you know you can find farm animals both on the farm and in a zoo?

For some, seeing farm animals at the zoo is their only exposure to agriculture in Wisconsin.

This morning I visited the Milwaukee County Zoo for the Family Farm Weekend. It was great getting to walk around the farm exhibit and chat with families about the importance of agriculture. From the clothes we eat, to the food we wear, all of us are impacted by Wisconsin agriculture every day, even those in the heart of a city.

The agricultural commodity that is involved in many aspects of our food chain is a soybean. Soybeans are a powerful source of protein used in both animal and human diets. One serving of this incredible crop can offer 7-15 grams of protein. That means both farm animals and we can eat it as a protein source.

So whether you are watching farm animals at the zoo, or enjoying edamame, remember that agriculture connects us all.

Farm to City
Sep. 09, 2016

My afternoon was full of energy and excitement for agriculture at the Chippewa Falls Farm-City school day.

All day, I had the pleasure of greeting 250 2nd and 4th grade students to Alfalawn Farms in Menomonie. This 2,000 cow dairy farm is the 2016 host for this tri-county annual event. During Farm-City Day, a dairy farm opens its doors to the public for a day and offers educational tours for schools. This event is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect people to their roots in agriculture and showcase the backbone of Wisconsinís $88.3 billion agriculture industry.

After I taught the kids about the diverse foods we find on Wisconsin farms, I was escorted by Dave, the owner, around his operation for a quick tour. The farm recently expanded its facilities from around 500 to 2,000 cows. This expansion included a new heifer facility, state of the art cross-ventilation free-stall barn and a 60 slot rotary parlor. I was in awe of the new technology they were incorporating to improve both heard health and cow/calf comfort.

One highlight was seeing the robotic calf feeders use Radio-frequency ID tags to keep track of milk replacer intake by each growing calf. Milk replacer is the equivalent of baby formula for cows. It provides the nutrients the calves need to grow while being cost effective for farmers. Keeping track of the calves daily intake allows the farmer to ensure each calf is receiving the appropriate amount of nutrients.

Good Bye Summer, Hello Fall!
Sep. 04, 2016

What do you think of when I say Sheboygan?
Perhaps brats and hard rolls come to your mind Ė I think of family and tradition.

My mother grew up in Sheboygan and today I was able to return to her old stomping ground by attending the Sheboygan County Fair.
While there I worked at the Dairy education center and spoke with fair goers about Wisconsinís $43.4 billion industry. With the help of Addie the cow, I explained the economic contribution each cow makes to our state and how they also provide us with 7 delicious gallons of milk a day. I was also able to attend their Holstein Futurity show and watch some wonderful bovine genetics parade around the show ring.

Of course, my trip to Sheboygan would not be complete without a famous Wisconsin brat for lunch.

Meat packaging here in the state is a huge agricultural industry that contributes many jobs to cities like Sheboygan. While some big known plants are located in that county, small local meat packaging companies can be found in almost every county in Wisconsin. These plants produce brats, sausage and beef sticks that are both delicious and locally sourced; which means buying these local meat products supports our farmers, communities and economies.

Whether you made it to a county fair, or are trying to fit in your last summer cook-out this weekend, be sure to support our farmers and buy local meat products.

A Tiara and Broach Fit for Wisconsin Agriculture
Sep. 02, 2016

Each time I go to an event, I wear the tiara or the brooch provided by the Midwest Jewelers Association. While it is an honor to wear both, they are meant to be more than a piece of jewelry.

The current Alice in Dairyland tiara is one of a kind. In the 69 years that the program has been around, only two tiaras have been lost or stolen. Each time it was lost, the tiara was redesigned. The current tiara has a gold frame, adorned with diamonds and gems. The center gem is an amethyst, and the two side gems are citrines; both of which are native to Wisconsin. I absolutely love the tiara is a talking point for Wisconsin agriculture.

Sometimes, however, the tiara is not appropriate for an event Iím going to. In those instances I have a wonderful brooch that also contains an amethyst and citrines. It mirrors the shape of the tiara and has a Wisconsin banner underneath. This brooch was conceptualized after previous Alice in Dairylandís observed certain audiences did not take them as seriously when they wore the tiara. To prevent this, the brooch was created for Alice to determine what audiences she should wear it for.

The history of the Alice in Dairyland tiara and brooch are a wonderful part of the Alice tradition. They help me share the unique aspects of Wisconsin agriculture every day.

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Contact the Alice In Dairyland Program at:
2811 Agriculture Dr. PO Box 8911
Madison WI 53708-8911
Phone (608) 224-5115

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