(press release)

To strengthen its sustainability work with members, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative is helping The Nature Conservancy hire an agroecologist with expertise in agronomy, nutrient management, and conservation planning.

The addition of Paige Frautschy as agriculture strategy manager at the Conservancy will expand Edge’s services to farmers participating in projects as part of the Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance (DSSA). Frautschy will help the Conservancy advance its work with farmers to improve soil health and protect water quality in Wisconsin’s lakes and streams.

In 2016, The Nature Conservancy and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative together with 12 other partners developed the DSSA with farmers and processors as the cornerstone. The goal is to document improvement throughout the entire dairy supply chain to tell a powerful, data-driven story to the dairy-consuming public.

The Conservancy and Edge are jointly funding Frautschy’s position in the Conservancy’s Wisconsin chapter.

“Since launching the DSSA together two years ago, Edge has developed a great relationship with The Nature Conservancy,” said Tim Trotter, executive director of Edge. “Working together to leverage strengths and reduce duplication is something the dairy and environmental communities should do more of. We are proud of this partnership.”

Frautschy comes to Edge with experience in cover crops, soil and water resource management, sustainable food systems and engaging farmers on conservation issues. Click here for a video introduction from Frautschy.

For the past year, she has been in an agriculture fellowship with the Conservancy helping farmers incorporate more conservation practices into their farming systems.

“Our mission at The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. I firmly believe we cannot do this without engaging farmers and those closest to the land,” Frautschy said. “I am excited to be partnering with a dairy organization that is vested in solving complex environmental issues through creative partnerships.”

Frautschy grew up in eastern Iowa and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a master’s degree in agroecology. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa where she majored in biology and minored in ethics. She resides in Fitchburg, Wis., with her husband, Lexy, and is involved on her in-laws’ farm where they raise dairy steers and cash grain crops.

Partnering with The Nature Conservancy to help fund this position is one of several steps Edge is taking to increase the cooperative’s bandwidth in high-impact areas for farmers. Having someone on the Edge team with direct expertise in nutrient management planning and conservation project design will help ensure that the DSSA remains focused on science-based outcomes and data interpretation to guide continuous improvement.

“We are happy to have Paige on board to expand our work with farmers, the Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative and others in the dairy community to strengthen on-farm conservation practices that help improve soil health and protect water quality in our lakes and rivers,” said Steve Richter, The Nature Conservancy conservation director in Wisconsin.