The Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance, with the cooperation of the Badger landowners and in partnership with the Badger History Group, has undertaken an inventory of the historic “heritage” apple trees still found on the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant. Many of the trees pre-date World War II. Even though the farm buildings, schools, and churches were all removed by the Army in 1942, surprisingly, many of the farmstead apple trees survived! The Alliance’s “Badger Apple Corps” project, coordinated by Curt Meine, Mike Mossman, Alison Duff and dedicated volunteers, has already documented and mapped some 150+ trees at Badger, across all four landowner properties–Ho-Chunk Nation, DNR, Dairy Forage Research Center, and the Bluffview Sanitary District.
As a component of the Apple Corps project, and to align with the Alliance’s 20-year anniversary, we contracted a talented videographer–Anders Gurda–to produce a short video about the Badger Apples. We are pleased to report that the video has been completed, thanks to a generous grant from Wisconsin Natural Food Associates, Inc., a statewide non-profit group that focuses on organic and sustainable agriculture.
As the video shows, the Alliance-led apple conservation project at Badger includes on-site inventory and monitoring, management of extant trees, grafting many of the old (and often fading) trees, development of a grafted tree nursery (in collaboration with the Dairy Forage Research Center), and eventually establishing a “memorial apple orchard” to honor the farm families that sacrificed their Sauk Prairie farms at the outset of WWII. The DNR’s Final Master Plan for the Sauk Prairie State Recreation Area includes mention of the heritage Badger apples, and we are hopeful that the future orchard will be located on public land, where all can enjoy and appreciate the trees and the colorful history they represent.