ABOUT PINE VALLEY FARM
Pine Valley Farm is a collective made up of eighteen members (individuals and their families) who share ownership of over a thousand acres in western Wisconsin. The unique property is situated among a rich array of woods, wetlands, streams, lakes, fields, and prairies.
Members share a common set of values and guiding principles outlined in the following mission statement:
Pine Valley Farm is a community of people who appreciate and share an interest in the natural world. The community owns in common a large property that has high value for quiet recreational activities—including hiking, fishing, and hunting; for learning about nature; and for the solitude and reflection afforded by the natural environment. PVF is a dynamic landscape that has changed a great deal since its founding—from what was once grazing land to woodland rich with popple and pine—and inevitably will change again. The community seeks to manage the land to preserve its value—recreational, educational, reflective, and economic; to maximize the health of the natural habitat, especially with regard to declining species; and to create a place that will be both a repository of memory and a hope for the future.
One of the benefits, and pleasures, of belonging to to Pine Valley Farm is that you become part of a rich history that dates back to the mid-1920s. Much of what we know about this history comes from accounts written by two of the original members/family members: Vern Soash and Andrew Fuller.
The original owners were a group of fly fishing enthusiasts from the Twin Cities who stumbled upon the beautiful woodland in western Wisconsin laced by streams and the Clam River. They camped and fished on the property for several years. In 1929, fifteen of them pooled their resources (this being just after the great stock market crash when money and credit were scarce) and formed the Minnesota-Wisconsin Holding Company. The group included a Minnesota Attorney General, the mayor of St. Paul, a judge, doctor, several attorneys, and bankers. They soon purchased the 240-acre property, which at the time included a small working farm operated by the Albees, a couple who stayed on to become the first caretakers.
Each member owns his/her home and shares ownership of the larger property. This collective ownership gives members the opportunity to experience the benefits of living within a large, one-of-a-kind landscape. Members share a common set of values and guiding principles outlined in the Mission Statement and the Rules and Bylaws adapted and updated based on ongoing concerns expressed by members.
As part of their shared ownership and maintenance of the property, each member pays annual dues of about $4,000. Dues are established annually by the Pine Valley Farm board. Dues cover the property taxes for the larger property and the multiple costs of managing the property, including housing and salary of an on-site caretaker, whose responsibilities include mowing and plowing roads and common areas, regularly checking member homes, maintaining PVF equipment, and serving as a general handyman.
Members participate in two annual meetings—in January and July—elect Board Members, vote on changes to Rules and Bylaws, and volunteer for Board Committees. They also participate in special projects taken on by Board committees and the general upkeep of the property.
CONSERVATION PRINCIPLES AND STRATEGIES
Over time, the membership has developed a set of principles to manage and improve the natural resources and habitat of Pine Valley Farm. These principles have the following goals:
- Protect, preserve, and increase the species identified by the State of Wisconsin as threatened.
- Increase biodiversity by promoting a variety of habitat types.
- Eliminate select non-native and native invasive species.
- Utilize best scientific practices and experts.
Based on these principles, the membership has worked with carefully selected forestry experts and members of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to develop a Managed Forest Law Plan, whose goal is to improve wildlife habitat and forest health, and a Deer Management Plan, aimed at helping members manage game species on the property and identify and manage rare and endangered species. The DNR sees this relationship as valuable to its own statewide mission to manage Wisconsin forest and habitat. In addition, PVF participates in a Landowner Conservation Report Program offered by the Wisconsin DNR, which gives the members regular reports on the status of their natural resources and their habitat management.
¹While the property is no longer a working farm, the name Pine Valley Farm still remains on all of the member documents.