EDEN, Wis. – Wayne Hass of Eden has three loves in his life – his family including his wife, Kathy Haas, producing healthy vegetables while finding ways to make them available in his area – and wildlife, wildlife, wildlife.

Wayne Haas is an example that a producer doesn’t need to own a large plot of land to make a positive impact. He owns 3 acres of tillable land where he grows popcorn and peas. He incorporates hay in his rotation to reduce erosion.

Haas began working in 2012 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“I made the decision to grow vegetables so that I could sell them at farmers markets and also become a member of a community-supported agriculture,” he said. “I was having a tough time with the varying Wisconsin spring and fall weather, which was really cutting into my growing season. Luckily I found out about the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and qualified for assistance to build a seasonal high tunnel.”

The tunnel has allowed him to grow produce about eight to nine months out of the year. After the positive experience building the tunnel, he contacted Cory Drummond, the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s district conservationist in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He gave him a tour of his 12-acre woodlands, which the Milwaukee River runs through.

“I love my woods and wildlife land; the land is something I enjoy with my family,” Haas said. “To watch nature and the animals that inhabit that land with my children and my grandchildren brings me joy. There are tons of oaks and pines as well as prairie grasses on my wildlife land. One thing we also have a lot of is buckthorn, which is so invasive.”

Drummond said Haas’ non-industrial private forest land had great wildlife value, meaning the land would be perfect for the Conservation Stewardship Program. Haas agreed and enrolled in the program. He now manages the buckthorn with biological measures – goats.

“I began the (Conservation Stewardship Program) program in 2015,” he said. “The first year that I did biological suppression of buckthorn I rented two goats. I was amazed at how much buckthorn they were able to graze. Every year since I’ve increased the amount of head I use.

“Now I actually own six goats in addition to renting six. Those 12 goats have really helped me make gains on reducing buckthorn without the need of applying chemicals. I’m not certified-organic but I don’t use chemicals on my cropland or forest land, especially with the land being located right along the river.”

Haas is also working with Mahala’s Hope, a transitional- recovery residence imparting coping and life skills for people to return to their communities to live independently. Clients are able to participate and help him with organic gardening. They learn skills about gardening and healthy eating. They work with him throughout the season to plant, maintain and harvest produce along with other tasks he needs.

There is one more year left on the Conservation Stewardship Program contract; Haas says he would definitely use the program again if given the opportunity. He’s working with Drummond to develop a seeding plan for wildlife-pollinator habitat.

“Whether you’re a 1,000-acre farm or a 20-acre farm, we all leave a footprint,” Drummond said. “Wayne is definitely doing his part to conserve and protect the resources on his farm.”

Visit www.nrcs.usda.gov for more information.

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Tivoli Gough is a Wisconsin public-affairs specialist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.