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MFAI still growing at 30

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Dennis Hines | April 1, 2014

EAST TROY -- The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute is all about growing -- both plants and knowledge.

This year the nonprofit agricultural institute celebrates its 30th anniversary of research and education in sustainable agriculture.

“We're excited about the 30th anniversary,” said Barbara Lucksinger, MFAI director of development. “We've had a lot of community support.”

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The institute hosts educational programs, garden tours and workshops each year.

“Basically, we're here for the farming community and for the local agricultural community,” Lucksinger said. “We raise a lot of vegetables, and a lot of our produce is sold in grocery stores, It's organic.

She continued, “We have workshops throughout the year. We serve about 300 people a year with our workshops. We have various activities going on this (30th) year. We're involved with the farmers markets in East Troy. We have customer appreciation nights in August.”

MFAI features about 11 acres of fruit trees, 3.5 acres of vegetable gardens, a greenhouse and expanding acreage for research that compares conventional, organic and biodynamic agricultural production.

An additional 40 acres will be used for research starting this year.

“The research we're doing shows the value of cover crops to farmers,” Lucksinger said. “(Cover crops are) more sustainable. They preserve water. They reduce pests. They save farmers time by using less pesticides. They help add nutrients to the soil.

“Right now, we're in our third year of studying cover crops. That could be a significant change on how large agricultural systems operate.”

Spring planting already has started in the greenhouse at MFAI.

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