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Erika M. Jensen

October 4, 1967 May 17, 2020
Erika M. Jensen
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Obituary for Erika M. Jensen

Erika M Jensen, age 52, embarked upon her spiritual journey Sunday, May 17th at 10:20 am in Fond du Lac, WI. Born October 4th, 1967 in Boston, MA to Margaret E. (Hapke) and Ken O. Jensen. Brother Christopher joined her adventure 5 years later. Never one to demure from a challenge, Erika graduated from Charlottesville High School and attended Bates College where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature. From there she journeyed to the Midwest where she spent many summers with the Jensen and Hapke families, times which would become inspiration for her skilled storytelling. She initially settled in the Twin Cities where she worked in the nonprofit sector and soon found herself interning on Forty Acres and Ewe CSA before founding her own CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) near Prairie Farm, WI. Organic gardening at the community level became her second passion along with writing. Erika’s attention to the plants and self-taught knowledge of sustainable agriculture, nature and the environment quickly established her as an adept organic farmer and horticulturalist.

Finding a partnership and love, Erika struck out to join Joel Goodlaxson on his family’s organic Hickory Ridge Farm near Oak Center, WI and established Plowshare Community Farm providing seasonal vegetables for 70 families. She was also a wholesale supplier of organic cut flowers to the Madison organics market with whom she had a strong connection. Erika blessed the Goodlaxson family with her vegetables, flowers, home grown dinners, and scrumptious baking. Family wished there were occasions more often to enjoy all she contributed, including her kindness and humor. Together Joel and Erika created Peter A. Goodlaxson, who became the light of her life. Erika balanced motherhood and farming, often with Peter by her side. Erika loved being a mom.

Connections in the community were important to Erika. She became the Prairiefest Director and volunteer organizer for Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum. Many fond summer memories in the community were a result of her skills as an organizer: face painting; kite flying; flower hat making; perennial prairie plant sales; environmental education. Her passion for literature led her to be an extensive patron at the Fond du Lac Public Library and to work at the library in Waupun. She led many educational sessions on gardening and organics for those institutions, the Beaver Dam Public Library, and others. If you mentioned a book, she likely had read it and could give good recommendations on the next book to explore. Her connections in Fond du Lac also led her to the Open Circle Unitarian Universalists of Fond du Lac Friends Fellowship where she replenished her spirit and was a cherished and active member.

Throughout her journey Erika was a writer, storyteller, poet and journaler. She spent extensive time researching, testing out theories and then writing about her experiences in the gardening, farming and natural world. Her creativity never ceased to amaze. Her own artistic photography often accompanied her published works. She created over a 100 articles as a free-lance writer for home gardening and organic and sustainable trade publications such as Organic Gardening, Wisconsin Gardening, Countryside, Wisconsin Trails, Growing for Market, the Organic Broadcaster, Herb Quarterly and ghost-wrote a book for the Rodale Institute, “Organic No-Till Farming”.

Besides writing, she loved reading to Peter; it was a special time for them to be together. She imparted her love for nature of the world to her community and most importantly to her son by practicing experiential learning through camping (a favorite of Peter’s), hiking, museums, games, puzzles and traveling to see family - instilling her love of family, reading, observing and writing. Most recently she joined him remotely to support virtual learning via the Fond du Lac STEM Academy.

Her father, Ken O. Jensen, will greet her spirit as she leaves behind on earth her mother, Margaret E. Jensen and stepfather, John Pfaltz of Charlottesville, VA, brother and sister-in-law Christopher and Kellie (Kute) Jensen of Napa, CA, beloved son, Peter Goodlaxson, and his father, Joel Goodlaxson, along with Jensen family members in the Oconomowoc, WI area, Pfaltz Family members from the Charlottesville, VA area and Goodlaxson family members from the Waupun, Beaver Dam, Menomonee, Twin Cities, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas and Germany areas to carry on her stories, awareness of the natural world and devotion to the earth on which we live.

Her earthly journey may have been too short but her impact on the humans and earth that she touched will be long lasting.

Memorials received will be donated to the Horicon Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center.

A Celebration of Life is tentatively planned for October 4th, 2020, COVID permitting. Confirmed plans will be posted 3 weeks prior

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Celebration of Life will be held at a later date

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