Fields of Sinsinawa Continues Growth: Farmer-Led Learning Center Makes Strides

by Sister Shiela Fitzgerald, OP

Fields of Sinsinawa now has its own logo! You may notice some similarities to the one we adopted as a Dominican Congregation. Just give it a little turn and you will see the green pastures, the brown Earth, and the blue running water that make up the land community at Sinsinawa. Each one of these is an essential component to the work now underway on our beautiful land at Sinsinawa Mound. All the love and care that makes this a beautiful whole is represented by that supportive hand holding it all together . . . your hand, the hand of our wonderful farmers at Sinsinawa, the hand of all who are caretakers of precious soil, water, and growing things. Notice the wheat . . . the nourishment that comes when all these things work together. It is the soil giving life . . . the Bread of Life if you will. Fields of Sinsinawa is celebrating Eucharist!

This logo also speaks of the strong partnership that is giving birth to this amazing organization. This land which is so precious to us and has given us our name now becomes the name chosen to carry the legacy of our mission into the future—Fields of Sinsinawa: A Farmer-Led Learning Center. Education will continue to be the hallmark of mission from the Mound outward!

Much activity is already underway. Fields are planted in the well-tended soil with an eye to sharing techniques and new learnings as the year progresses. Contented cows are now moving across the landscape in well-designed smaller paddocks for grazing. This practice is often referred to as rotational or adaptive grazing. These are dairy heifers who are pregnant with the next generation! They seem very happy with the new arrangement.

We are fortunate to have tenants who have been with us for many years. New around Sinsinawa is Rick Bieber, a member of the Fields of Sinsinawa Land Committee. We call him the “soil advisor.” He brings significant knowledge and understanding of how soil functions and how to let the soil speak for itself.

In addition, Rick and members of the land committee have been testing soil and water and observing all varieties of growing things to establish some benchmarks for comparison as various practices are introduced. What we know so far is that we have been blessed by the Runde and Leibfried families who have tended this precious soil for many years. Their organic practices have kept much of the water flowing through our land free of harmful nitrates as it continues its way downstream and on to the Mississippi River.

Fields of Sinsinawa plans to connect with partners beyond the Mound and even beyond the tristate area this summer. Ecdysis, known as the 1,000 Farms initiative, will make Sinsinawa a hub this August as it surveys and assesses regenerative practices on numerous farms in the area. This data will spotlight the impact of regenerative farming.

Fields of Sinsinawa has made gigantic strides in just one year. Finding the funding sources is the challenge ahead. May it be successful. We Sinsinawa Dominicans are proud to partner with this endeavor.