Gratitude for the Life of Alison Wiediger
If you are part of the organic agriculture community in Kentucky, you probably knew Alison Wiediger of Au Naturel Farm in Smith's Grove, and recognize the impact of her leadership in sustainable year-round food production. Even if you have not heard her name before, you may be a beneficiary of Alison's work and teaching. She and her husband Paul Wiediger pioneered the use of unheated hoop houses (also called high tunnels) to extend Kentucky's growing season. They grew greens in winter and invented ways to market them directly to customers in their region. They experimented with new crops like baby ginger. They took the early risks, solved first-timer problems, and shared what they knew by writing, hosting field trips on their farm, speaking and teaching workshops.
Their habits of learning and sharing fit particularly well within the peer learning framework of Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (Southern SAWG). Alison's teacher bio for courses she presented at the 2013 Southern SAWG conference describes how quickly she moved from learning to teaching organic practices. In a beautiful guest essay for Savoring Kentucky, Alison attributed her cooking skills, including artisanal bread from grains she milled herself, to her grandmother.
Savoring Kentucky joins the many who mourn Alison's premature death last week, following years of struggle with Parkinson's disease. We appreciated and learned from Southern SAWG's tribute to her, and you may, too.
Paul Wiediger and Southern SAWG have established a scholarship fund to expand opportunities for interested people to learn sustainable production practices and join a committed community of growers. We are grateful for the life of Alison Wiediger, which will continue to inspire and educate people interested in the arduous, joyous work of sustainable agriculture.