From Milwaukee Renaissance

Earthrenaissance: AgroecologyEcoTourismBadgeProgram

Digitally Enhanced Agroecology Eco Tourism Badge Program

Jesse Blom just shared vision of linking city farm experiments in lots, homes, schools, and more, into a group eco tourism, hostel, and air bnb experiments.

I’d like to weave that into badge and culture wagon initiatives.

Anyone up for on line brainstorming around this concept? Then meet at Riverwest and Bay View Alterra every month or quarter.


Sandy Syburg


As you know I also operate a school bus company. For some time I have wanted to convert an older bus into a rolling classroom, mobile farmers market, culture wagon concept. Used by organizations at local events, VGI garden installs, schools etc. It could certainly have enough seats remaining that touring urban farms and possibly even collecting bountiful produce and used as a redistribution vehicle to take the produce to areas of the city in need.

All in the concept stage right now but if anyone had design, implementation or use ideas would be interested.

Micah Leinbach

Given the number of e-mails here I’ll be brief, but had to follow up on Sandy’s thoughts. I run a small outdoor adventure program for youth and adults in northern Michigan ( I run it out of a really small corner of a building, and some paper napkin math helped me form a vision of using a bus to do the same (I think the bus would actually have more space). With the right purchases, you could start a mobile outdoor program in-a-bus. In theory, you could cover the ongoing costs of the program with the revenue from outdoor programs themselves. It increases access to the wilderness (transportation being a major issue), helps you work with groups very easily by taking them all at once, etc… I’ve crunched some (money) numbers as well, and it looks feasible.

It would require some similar creative design to what you’re suggesting, Sandy, but could definitely be done. Such a bus could readily serve a few hundred participants a year. So if anyone has the relevant experiences to provide some advice or thoughts on this, I’d love to know more (having never converted or owned a bus - though I feel pretty good about the outdoor program deal). Feel free to be in touch with me if you have relevant wisdom! I’m pretty seriously considering pursuing this in the next 5 years or so.

Be well,


p.s. if anyone is working with or knows youth interested in getting outside this summer, our program still has openings - have them get in touch! We offer discount group rates for groups as well, offering wilderness education, leadership programs, etc.

Wally Graeber

To start a mobile model like Fresh Moves in Chicago had a good run until their foundation board closed the doors 6 months ago. Those 3 buses are sitting idle and waiting for opporunity says their past CEO, Julian Champion. Why not redistribute to Madison, MKE, and Chicago.

I am happy to host similar Alterra meetings monthly at Alterra here in Madison on the Capitol Square since I am in planning for a city qide coffee composting program.

Anyone in the central part of the state to meet and share knowledge with my UW-Madison network?

Dave Boucher

I can understand the discussion around busses and they opportunity they produce for certain instances however as a potential space-based urban eco-tourism site, busses appear to me as an unnecessary infrastructure unless you are intending to create whistle-stop tours of multiple sites over an afternoon.

We have hosted community service-based bike tours in our home and we are well served by public transit. Our bakery is well attended by customers from across SE WI and frequent visitors who “google” soup or bakeries. My experiences with bus tours are mixed; at times feeling like zoo animals not allowed to mingle with the bus riders, particularly when there are tight site-to-site schedules. I would be less inclined to be involved in such a situation since the time and effort tends not to build significant relationships.

Our desire would be to be part of a structure/program integrating service and celebration in such a way that it produces experiences, new relationships and greater understanding between cultures (much the way the goals of the Culture Stand project revolve around the intersection of ag, food culture and art). I would love to discuss what that would look like but this is not the space.

Typically I cant make daytime meetings at other coffee houses since we are busy running our own but I am happy to host mid-afternoon meetings at Amaranth Bakery.

Emmanuel Pratt

Godsil and Sandy…. This is great stuff!!!

On a related noted, Jesse Blom and I are concurrently guiding two design-build projects for ‘Roadside Culture Stands’ in collaboration with the Worm Farm Institute (

One stand has been underway in Milwaukee in collaboration across SWF/ MSOE/UWM/ via ReciproCITY for a while.. another is just beginning here in Chicago to be anchored at 9601 S Cottage Grove Ave as a collabo across the SWF/ Chicago State University Aquaponics teams, an architecture studio at Illinois Institute of Technology, and a team of Veterans from the Veterans Resource offices (who partner with the SWF and CSU Aquaponics teams).

Needless to say, this bus project falls directly in line … but one step up from our current projects.

With respect to Fresh Moves, the context surrounding their closing is far, far more complicated than has been reported and offers many lessons in economics and socio-economic analysis which we should all discuss at length over time

Sandy, if I recall correctly from when you did the bus tours for FarmAID years back, your buses are biodiesel right? And this would be primarily just a teaching model?

If so, I’m very interested in learning more about what economic model you are exploring.

Another model we should watch and analyze has been the Truck Farmer (… I just met with them not too long ago.

All very interesting stuff as we transition to the collaboration economy

NJ Unaka

Hello gentle people,

If there is to be an educational component, I’m curious if a bus can transport a large aquaponics tank, built out of the 1000 liter tanks. Then, perhaps it could be transported to coherent schools, community centers, etc…

To make it interesting (for me), there would have to be material related to energy, water and waste as well - of course, with diagrams of system flows. So, why not vermiculture as well and if it runs on diesel, a way to illustrate that process as well.

We at ReThink Factory are running some experiments this spring and summer which may lend themselves to these sorts of demonstrations as well - keeping our fingers crossed. More later….


World Water Center Urban Ecology Bus?

Dear All,

Milwaukee’s World Water Center will surely bring our state and region as much renown and resources as our urban agriculture pathfinders. Many of its partners have programs that would very nicely compliment the proposed content of agroecology eco tourism, culture wagon, and now some kind of Urban Ecology Bus program.

Any reason to not invite some of their ecopreneurs to this conversation?

Shajan John already is a central “partner” at the World Water Center.

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Page last modified on January 18, 2014, at 08:50 AM