(The following is derived from a brochure and other information about this group:)
In the fall of 1976, 40 or so women from Madison and Milwaukee began meeting with the idea of buying land collectively for use by 'womyn and children'. At the first official meeting they went around a circle and shared fantasies about womyn's land. This meeting led to the eventual purchase of a piece of land of about 80 acres, 2 hours north of Madison, called DOE farm (DOE standing for Daughters Of the Earth).
The farm was purchased for $37,500, including house and barn- $15,000 as down payment and a 20 year mortgage. The mortgage and the continuing cost of maintaining the farm was to be paid by a collective living on the land, as well as additional donations.
As stated in the 1978 brochure of the group:
"The purpose of the co-op is to hold land for future generations, to conserve and maintain her organic resources, and to guard against her exploitation and depletion. We are working to provide space for the development of alternative skills and survival methods to those groups who have not had the opportunity to develop them, especially womyn and children. We are committed to providing both living and retreat space.
"The co-op is a vehicle through which we as womyn can share our skills, knowledge and resources with each other. it is a way to encourage and support us to free ourselves from a traditionally oppressive system and help bring about the rebirth of womyn's culture."
The Wisconsin Womyn's Land Co-op's members seemed to primarily identify by gender (as female-born women, seeking to underscore the difference of gender identity), but it's also clear that most of the members were lesbian, so sexual orientation clearly was important to them, as well. While a feminist womyn's organization, with some straight or bisexual women in the early days, in fact membership has always been and remains predominately lesbian.
The Co-op appears to have had as many as 200 members over time. Information in January 2011 is that the group still exists on the land, although the group is smaller:
Although much less active than in the past, as of January 2011 Wisconsin Womyn's Land Cooperative (WWLC) still exists with a group of 5 womyn looking after the land, Daughters Of the Earth (DOE).The land (80 acres) is located at the end of a long driveway. It is surrounded by bluffs, woods, and ravines; affording those on her lots of privacy to be themselves. Clothing is optional. Animals, trees, and other plants are plentiful, as much of the land is kept in her natural state. Jo and Kathie live on the land as caretakers. They live in the farmhouse, and reserve the area around it as their living space. Another area of the land is set up as a simple campground. A few other womyn donate some financial and informational support. Womyn and girls of all politics, sexualities, lifestyles, and spiritualities are welcome here, and are invited to come and enjoy the freedom of womyn only space. Womyn wishing more in depth, long term involvement are invited to join the co-op and help preserve this space for future generations of womyn and girls. Jo and Kathie can be contacted at: email@example.com. When emailing please put DOE on your subject line.
The University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee Archives has much more documentation on this group available for research.
Credits: 2011 Update courtesy Jo and Kathie
Historical information courtesy of Michael Doylen
and the UWM Archives.
Last updated: February-2011.