Healthy people and ecosystems can only function with a farming system that respects the amazing complexity of life beneath our feet. Modern agriculture erodes soil biology with toxic chemicals and excess tillage. Instead of providing nutrient-dense food, this contaminated soil slowly stacks toxicity in the human body and destroys the earth’s ecological sponge. So by stewarding the land, we mean rebuilding the life in the soil. At the same time, we seek to connect people with the pleasure and responsibility of seeing exactly how their food is raised and is healing the land. We love sharing the inextricable connections between land and people.
So what do animals have to do with building soil? Nature’s historical tools have been herbivores (such as cattle) and perennial grasses. We are essentially grass farmers. Perennial grass, when properly managed with cattle, uses carbon from the atmosphere to feed soil biology. The cattle, moved every day, keep the grass in a vegetative, solar-capturing state. Using solar power, the grass gathers carbon from the atmosphere, and through an extensive root system that is allowed to decay and regrow, feeds the soil life and builds organic matter. Organic matter is the earth’s sponge that not only determines food quality but also affects climate.
Nearly 70% of grain produced in the U.S. is for animal feed. If enough farms adopted management intensive grassland farming, the U.S. could radically reclaim carbon emissions. All of the news that criminalizes the environmental impact of cattle are based on continuous grazing (where the grass isn’t managed for recovery and energy) and the feeding of grain.
Animals should not simply provide food, as in factory confinement systems. Animals serve vital roles in an ecosystem and should be respected in these roles. Everything we do on our farm serves a distinct and yet interconnected purpose. The cattle and sheep are our primary means of managing grassland, sequestering carbon, and building soil. Following behind the cattle and sheep, the chickens are our primary means of pest control. The pigs utilize the land not suitable for the other grazing animals and beneficially renovate these areas with their snouts. These are the roles that these animals are designed to serve in nature.