We did it! Finally! Since last summer, my dad has been working with our local agriculture conservation agency to apply for some local and national grants through the National Resources Conservation Service to help us to improve how we graze, how we protect our streams, and how we reduce water pollution through farming practices. In the past few weeks, we have begun finalizing contracts and are looking forward to some major changes in the next year to two years. Here is what we are doing:
- Because we believe in protecting the environment and specifically reducing loss of topsoil and preventing runoff, we are planting riparian buffers which will protect the two streams that run through our property. Riparian buffers are areas of land that are set aside from farming, filled with vegetation and trees, which help to create a natural sponge that filters out animal waste and prevents runoff through established root systems. They are a fantastic practice for farmers AND they create natural habitats for some of our beautiful birds and other stream species. By planting trees around streams, you decrease the water temperature of the stream, allowing fish and other water creatures to flourish. At Willow Run Farm, we will be planting 50 foot buffers to help our local stream stay healthy.
- We will also be increasing the land we currently have in pasture (15 acres) to a total of 44 acres. This also helps to preserve topsoil and enrich the earth in a way that constant tillage through crop farming will not.
In the process of putting together our contract, NRCS has helped us to establish good management practices for dealing with manure and other environmental factors which will help us to keep our farm sustainable and environmentally friendly. So in the next few months, we will be putting up fencing, laying down water lines, planting pasture, and reworking our cattle crossing at the creek to put this plan into practice. I am excited to help. To be able to do what we can to make our world a little healthier for everyone.
In the picture below (definitely not to scale):
Current Pasture: Green
New Pasture: Purple