Read stories from local farmers and landowners who have successfully partnered with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to receive assistance in putting conservation to work on their land.
In 2017, Matt Wilson purchased a piece of land in Neenah, Wisconsin. The property had been mostly vacant aside from compacted row crops, so Matt reached out to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for advice on how to improve the soil and land for conservation use before starting on his grand plans to build a house, a barn and a garden on his newly-purchased acreage.
Matt’s military veteran status and being a beginning farmer made him eligible for priority funding. After planting his initial garden plot, Matt reached out to NRCS and applied for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to fund the building of a high tunnel to extend his growing season. His next goal was to improve wildlife habitat by implementing Tree and Shrub Planting and Wetland Restoration with Critical Area Seeding, also through EQIP funding. In the summer of 2022, Matt hosted a Field Day to share what he has learned about pest control, amendments and preparing for winter in the high tunnels. Merrie Schamberger, NRCS District Conservationist in Oshkosh, said, “Matt is so generous of his time. He has offered guidance to several gardeners who are considering high tunnels. It was a bonus to have him host a field day. People asked lots of questions and there was good dialog.” Matt said “NRCS helped with how to improve land that was used and abused by the prior operator. We started with cover crops and now have a pasture mix.”
Now that the high tunnel project is complete and proving successful, Matt is considering getting some farm animals once his pasture is fully revived. He plans to reach out to NRCS for assistance with how to best continue with proper conservation practices while supporting this next venture.