Barn Dance

An ENORMOUS Thank You to all of our sponsors:


Barn Dance

Saturday, SEPTEMBER 16, 2017

4:30-10:30 p.m.

Saxon Homestead Farm, Cleveland, WI


Keynote Speaker:

Jim VandenBrook is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association whose mission is to protect, conserve, and enhance Wisconsin’s Natural Resources by representing County Land Conservation Committees and Departments.  After receiving a BS degree in Soil Science from UW-Madison he worked as a County Conservationist in Vernon and Trempealeau Counties in the mid 80’s. Then 26 years with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection on Soil and Water Conservation programming, groundwater research and protection related to pesticide and nutrient management programming. He was a member of the Wisconsin Land Information Board, and served on the Dane County Regional Planning Commission. Jim hopes to complete his 34th American Birkebeiner ski race (again) in February.

The Food, Land & Water Project invites Wisconsin stakeholders of all kinds to come together to have a conversation about Wisconsin’s food, land, and water resources and the human demands that affect them.  This is a chance to look beyond the present moment, see the big picture, and think about our shared resources in a more systematic and collaborative way.  Workgroups are now developing draft recommendations related to: surface water qualitygroundwater qualitygroundwater quantity, and the future of Wisconsin working lands. You are invited to attend the Food, Land and Water Conference on October 16, 17, 2017 at the Osthoff Conference Center where you can be part of the conversation that helps Wisconsin take the next steps to a better, more sustainable future.


Nourish is a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Sheboygan, Wisconsin led by Executive Director, Heather Cleveland, and a Board of Directors. Our staff of program coordinator, urban farm manager, education coordinator, and administrative assistant help us deliver good-food programs to the community.

Since its inception in 2009, Nourish has supported and promoted local farmers by connecting kids and families in-need to the local food they produce. We believe that supporting local farmers also supports the local economy. Food less traveled reduces our reliance on fossil fuels and emissions while allowing the produce to be picked closer to ripeness. Produce harvested near ripeness also features the best nutrient content. Nourish partners with farms that encourage sustainable farming practices.

History of the Barn Dance:

Partnering for Progress is a collaboration of Gathering Waters (GW), Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership (LNRP), Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers (WSBDF), and the Saxon Homestead. We began working together in 2009 to enhance our respective missions toward the shared goal of keeping life thriving in Wisconsin’s rural communities.

Beginning in 2009, we held an old-fashioned barn dance on a historic, working dairy farm to celebrate Wisconsin’s farmers, working lands, and rural heritage. Collectively, we recognize the need to conserve the state’s natural resources for everyone’s benefit. We built partnerships and raised vital funds to support our work to improve rural life. And we had fun!

The enthusiasm from the inaugural event was so invigorating we decided to make this an annual celebration and build on the synergy to promote the importance of Wisconsin’s working lands and rural communities. We hope to expand the event statewide in future years.

Our Host:  Saxon Homestead

Saxon Homestead Farm is a family partnership owned and operated by fifth-generation family members Robert Klessig and Kathleen Block-Klessig, Karl and Liz Klessig, their families, and their enthusiastic employees. Check out the stories behind the barn and the family history here.

Partners:  GW, LNRP, and WSBDF are the beneficiaries of the event proceeds. Each organization has been chosen as a member of the partnership for the unique role they play in pursuit of the partnership’s mission:

The Mission of Partnering for Progress (PFP) is to work collaboratively to conserve farmland and natural resources, support beginning and continuing farmers, and sustain vibrant, rural communities to improve rural life in Wisconsin.

Gathering Waters brings a statewide distinction to the partnership and represents Wisconsin’s 50+ land trusts – key partners in the effort to protect Wisconsin’s farmland. GW’s mission is to help communities, land trusts, and landowners protect the places that make Wisconsin special; and was a key partner in the effort to get the Working Lands Initiative passed into law.  Check out their website!

Barn Dance

Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership is the leading, local advocate on the waters of northeast Wisconsin and brings the value of strong relationships with local farmers, businesses, and community leaders to the partnership. LNRP builds partnerships, provides funding, promotes a forum for discussion and supports activities advocating a balance between land use and natural resource management, conservation and protection.

UW-Wisconsin Madison

Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers – a program of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and Farm and Industry Short Course – also brings a statewide perspective to the partnership, as well as a connection to the University and the next generation of Wisconsin farmers. The WSBDF emphasizes business planning and pasture-based farm management, demonstrating how pasture-based farming is the lowest-capital approach to farming and how the pasture-based system protects soil, water and wildlife resources.  Learn more about the school!


Barn Dance