Potatoes are big business in Wisconsin, but they can carry a hefty environmental price tag due to chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Enter the Healthy Grown Potato Program. This unusual partnership among UW-Madison, the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers’ Association, and the World Wildlife Fund integrates conservation and agriculture to produce a potato that is both ecologically and economically sustainable. Drawing heavily on UW research, the program uses rigorous, science-based standards to guide pest management, chemical use, and land restoration.
The goal, says UW coordinator Deana Knuteson, is to improve the health and sustainability of fresh-market potatoes, the people who produce and eat them, and the land where they are grown. The spuds, which are marked with a Healthy Grown Potato eco-label, are a natural fit in today’s green-conscious marketplace. “With sustainability at the forefront, this program has put Wisconsin ahead of the trend,” she says.
Published in the Summer 2010 issue