Supporters of Wisconsin agriculture have created a traveling gallery show titled, ‘a life. from dirt.’ which opens Friday, July 10, 2020 at the Rountree Gallery at 120 W. Main St. in Platteville.

The show is open every Thursday and Friday from 4-8 p.m. and every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Sept. 2, 2020.

A ‘calf whisperer and a garlic farmer,’ who witnessed the optimistic resilience of Wisconsin farmers, suggested that Rountree Gallery view Sun Prairie resident Pete Curran’s stories on his Facebook page: When I listened to a farmer.

“In the early part of 2020, we saw Curran’s stories of the people who chose a career in Wisconsin agriculture,” said Bill Mitchell, president of the community, non-profit gallery.

“During a challenging time in agriculture, impacted by the trade war,” Mitchell added, “we wanted the community to see who the men and women – and families are who were struggling.”

Mitchell said the exhibit celebrates the resilience of farmers, even with some impediments.

“Then COVID-19 affected the country and disrupted our food supply chain. Drastic changes in buying behavior resulted in most people finding empty store shelves,” Mitchell said. “Yet, farmers were still working every day, where production of our food supply remained consistent.”

“The gallery approached me in March to see if I was interested in presenting my photos and stories to create a show for the summertime,” Curran said. Although Curran has spent only three years in agriculture, he’s been very successful creating connections with the Wisconsin Ag community through his photos and stories. These collaborative efforts produced the first-ever Ag Career Day at the Jefferson County Wisconsin Farmer Technology Days in 2019.

Curran suggested to the Rountree Gallery the concept of a Traveling Show to loan out to organizations throughout the state. This local salute to proud farm families entitled, ‘a life. from dirt.’ became a collaborative call-to-action to ‘celebrateWORK.’

The show consists of 10 personal stories of ag families from around the state, united into one by a ‘floor story’ around the perimeter of the gallery.

“Visitors of the show will see a pictoral message and a physical Wisconsin Ag Career Resource Guide, that can be shared with young students as a celebration of the resilient history of Wisconsin agriculture and a rewarding career possibility,” said Curran.

The Traveling Show is sponsored by the Mid-West Farm Report with Pam Jahnke, along with other local and state sponsors including, Vale Foundation, Edward Jones Agent, Bob Hundhausen, the Iowa/Grant Farmers Union, Inspiring Community, Wisconsin Farm Technology Days 2021 and host family business, Silver Spring Foods. In-kind sponsors include Morrissey Printing and the Driftless Market.

The Platteville Farmers Market is featured in one of the 10 stories, to highlight the need for local food access, especially when national distribution channels are disrupted. Jenna Phillips is the manager of the Saturday farmers market and is featured in the show as a ‘Homesteader’ whose life became connected to the Platteville Farmers Market.

To learn more about the show at the Rountree Gallery, visit RountreeGallery.org or MidwestFarmReport.com, where a gallery trailer shows a sampling of the stories. Each site has a link to a downloadable PDF of the Career Resource Guide and a request form for hosting “a life. from dirt.” the Rountree Gallery Traveling Show.

--Staff report

Load comments