Driftless Curiosity is located at 15270 Haucke Ln, Viola, Wisconsin. This is a 200 acre ridgetop property currently owned by Rufus Haucke and Joy Miller who also operate Keewaydin Farms, an organic vegetable business on the land, certified organic since 2004. The breakdown of the land is as follows: 40 acres wooded, 60 acres pasture, 90 acres tillable, and 10 acres of homesteaded area. Available learning space includes: hiking trails, forest, maple syrup operation, fields, gardens, greenhouses, barn, shop, picnic area, pond, and pottery studio.
This land was part of the Ho Chunk territory whose traditional lands covered parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois. We seek to understand and respectfully recognize the violent history and injustice toward indigenous people which drastically changed life on the land and brought rise to our current system. We further recognize the role of privilege in our status as landowners and strive to use our privilege to work toward land justice and cultural healing. We aim to hold safe space here for people of all backgrounds to connect to the land.
Rufus’s parents, Richard and Mary Haucke were back-to-landers who purchased the property in 1976 and ran a dairy operation of registered holsteins for 20 years. Although they were not certified organic, they held strong beliefs about proper animal husbandry and their role as stewards of the land. Changes to farm policy, particularly the elimination of milk parity in 1983, made their livelihood financially impossible. Like many Wisconsin farmers, they were forced to sell their herd, take off farm jobs, and scramble for creative ways to make the farm payment. We include this history to reflect on how farm policy shapes land use and often land ownership. Rufus was able to purchase the farm in 2009 and transitioned the operation to organic vegetable production. This is the only way he ever wanted to farm, in alignment with his environmental values.
Rufus and Joy strive to be responsible stewards of the land and build ecological resilience into the property through regenerative practices, biodiversity, forest management, prairie restoration, investments in permaculture, and continued education on best practices. Their hope is to work with Mother Nature to provide a balance of wildlife habitat, food production, and recreational space.