Author: Peter Wheeler

01 Apr 2022

Smoke on the Horizon

Smoke on the Horizon

Not Always a Sign of Trouble

Greenacres, The Village of Indian Hill and Madeira & Indian Hill Joint Fire District recently teamed up to do a series of controlled burns around the Village in an effort to promote new growth, reduce invasive plants and clear old plant debris. The locations selected for these burns were Grand Valley Preserve, Radio Range Park and a green area near the intersection of Shawnee Run Road and State Route 126. All three locations had been planted with native grasses or wildflowers, but the establishment rate had not been successful.

Village officials had noticed less and less species diversity over the last few years and were looking for a solution when they reached out to Greenacres for assistance. After reviewing the data, the Greenacres team prescribed a series of controlled burns. They felt this was the most natural approach and helped avoid the use of powerful herbicides or heavy tilling.

“The Village was thrilled to learn that the Greenacres Team was certified in controlled burns and interested in partnering with the Village to improve the native grasses and wildflowers. The Village is fortunate to have the Greenacres Foundation located within our community and the partnership that has been created to improve the natural environment.”  said.

-Jon West, Village of Indian Hill Assistant City Manager

“These native plant communities evolved in the presence of natural fires” says Daniel Wilds, Greenacres Interim General Manager of Greenacres Michaela Farm. “By utilizing burns, we can help manage land in a way that promotes growth and maintains a rich balance of native species. Not only do we remove dead material, creating space and light for new growth, we’re also building natural fertilizer by breaking down biomass so that it can be reabsorbed into the soil. It’s a very powerful management practice for farmers and land managers and can benefit an entire ecosystem when implemented properly. We can greatly improve soil health, plant and animal communities, and even weather patterns.” continued Wilds.

“By utilizing burns, we can help manage land in a way that promotes growth and maintains a rich balance of native species.

-Daniel Wilds, Interim General Manager of Greenacres Michaela Farm

After carefully planning the procedure and waiting for the necessary weather conditions, Wilds, who has a national certification to conduct these type of burns, and other members of Greenacres, put the plan into motion under the careful supervision of the firefighters from the Madeira & Indian Hill Joint Fire District. Three separate burns were conducted over the course of three days.

“The controlled burns were carefully planned, coordinated with the right personnel and executed without incident. This was a new experience for our personnel and we enjoyed working with our partners from Greenacres.

-Chief Stephen Oughterson, Madeira & Indian Hill Joint Fire District

All three burns went according to plan and Greenacres and the Village will be monitoring the sites over the coming years to gauge their effectiveness on the intended outcome. The hope is this old school method finds new life as organizations look for alternatives to the harsher land management practices employed in years past.

21 Mar 2022

Greenacres & Ukraine: Finding Friendship in Farming

Greenacres & Ukraine: Finding Friendship in Farming

As the tragic events unfold across Ukraine, Cincinnatians have been reminded of the special relationship and stories Cincinnati’s local organizations have with the people of Ukraine. One lesser known story is how a local non-profit’s education programs played a role in helping Ukraine develop into a world leader in agriculture.

In the early 2000’s, the United States State Department brought Ukrainian farmers to the US on a multi-state tour to learn about various agricultural practices around the country. The State Department approached Greenacres Foundation, a Cincinnati based non-profit and working farm, about hosting the Ukrainian visitors so they could learn about generative agricultural practices.

Ukrainian farmers in the Greenacres pasture working with a translator.

“The Nipperts instilled into our core values that we are to be good-neighbors and show grace, so naturally we were delighted with the opportunity to host these farmers who were just starting to understand what real freedom meant to their future.” said Carter Randolph, President of Greenacres Foundation. “We showed them how we farm, the equipment we use, and how they could take our practices back with them. At the end of the visit, we enjoyed a traditional Ukrainian meal and exchanged cultural drink traditions. Frozen vodka was used for toasts and Budweiser™ beer was served as an American beer experience. It was during these toasts we learned about their struggles under the USSR and their hope for a prosperous future. They knew some of this would be achieved through farming and they were very impressed by the practices used at Greenacres. Even though they visited much larger operations around the country, the industrialized nature of those farms were not a good fit for them. Not only do they rely on large, expensive, equipment which put them out of reach of the average farmer, but Greenacres’ willingness to put the quality of the land and soil first spoke volumes to farmers from a country known for their extremely fertile soil. A friendship was made and a language barrier broken because of our mutual love of farming. “Greenacres will stand with Ukraine” continued Randolph.

Ukrainian visitors pointing out their home towns on a map.

“We showed them how we farm, the equipment we use, and how they could take our practices back with them. At the end of the visit, we enjoyed a traditional Ukrainian meal and exchanged cultural drink traditions.

-Carter Randolph, Greenacres President

The trip to Greenacres made quite an impression on the visitors and in -following years the State Department reached out about hosting more Ukrainian visitors who specifically asked to stop at Greenacres as they had heard about how wonderful it was from their friends.

To honor the memory of these visits and the people who love our city and our way of life, The Louis and Louise Nippert Charitable Foundation (L&L Nippert Charitable Foundation) has made a grant of $250,000 to Mathew 25: Ministries to aid in the Ukraine humanitarian effort. The L&L Nippert Charitable Foundation is a grant making foundation and part of the trio of Nippert legacy foundations that include Greenacres Foundation and Louise Dieterle Nippert Musical Arts Fund.

Members of Greenacres and visiting Ukrainian farmers share a shot of Ukrainian vodka while exchanging drink traditions.

“We are so very appreciative of the incredibly generous support provided by the L&L Nippert Charitable Foundation for our Ukraine Relief work. Matthew 25: Ministries is shipping relief supplies to people in Ukraine and those who have fled to the surrounding countries.

-Tim Mettey, CEO Matthew 25: Ministries

“We are so very appreciative of the incredibly generous support provided by the L&L Nippert Charitable Foundation for our Ukraine Relief work. Matthew 25: Ministries is shipping relief supplies to people in Ukraine and those who have fled to the surrounding countries. The support will help provide desperately-needed aid to people affected by this crisis, helping to care for them and provide the assurance that they are not forgotten. Thank you for so generously supporting our work during this time of such urgent need. We will be helping in the affected region for a long time to come, and your partnership will help make continued relief efforts possible.”  Said Tim Mettey, CEO Matthew 25: Ministries

The farmers at Greenacres will be planting sunflowers around their properties to show support for Ukraine and visitors to the Greenacres Farm Store will have the opportunity to round up transactions as a way to donate to these humanitarian causes

ABOUT GREENACRES FOUNDATION: Greenacres Foundation was founded in 1988 and was Louis and Louise Nippert’s gift to the community. Combining their love of the land and farming with their appreciation of Cincinnati’s classical arts, Greenacres provides educational programming to over 30,000 local students annually while preserving and generatively farming over 1,200 acres in the Greater Cincinnati area. For more information please contact Greenacres at (513) 891-4227 or mail@green-acres.org.

ABOUT MATTHEW 25: MINISTRIES: Matthew 25: Ministries rescues and reuses over 15,000,000 pounds of products each year and redistributes them to the poorest of the poor and disaster victims. Each year, Matthew 25: Ministries impacts the lives of more than 20,000,000 individuals throughout the United States and around the world.  Matthew 25 is ranked on Forbes’ 2021 list of the Largest U.S. Charities. Matthew 25 is also highly ranked among more than 3,700 four-star charities on Charity Navigator. Matthew 25: Ministries is accredited by the Better Business Bureau through the “Wise Giving Alliance Standards.” For more information, or to schedule an interview, contact Michelle Jones mjones@m25m.org at Matthew 25: Ministries (513) 793-6256, or visit www.m25m.org.

07 Dec 2021

$19 Million Research Project Seeks to Understand How Management Impacts Soil Health, Farmer Well-Being

$19 Million Research Project Seeks to Understand How Management Impacts Soil Health, Farmer Well-Being

For original article, click here

MYRTLE BEACH, SC – An international coalition announced a $19 million research project aimed at understanding how a farmer or rancher’s grazing management decisions impact soil health on pasture and rangeland (commonly called grazing lands) and – in turn – how soil health can positively impact a producer’s land and well-being.

Entitled Metrics, Management, and Monitoring: An Investigation of Pasture and Rangeland Soil Health and its Drivers, the project was announced today at the National Grazing Lands Coalition triennial meeting. The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research awarded Noble Research Institute a $9.5 million grant to lead this critical research that is improving soil health on grazing lands. Noble Research Institute is providing $7.5 million to this project with additional financial contributions by Greenacres Foundation, The Jones Family Foundation and ButcherBox.

Pasture and rangeland soils contain about 20 percent of the world’s soil organic carbon stock but have largely deteriorated in many regions due to poor management, fragmentation or conversion to cropland. As soil health decreases, the land loses its viability to grow healthy plants, maintain flood- and drought-resilience or filter water.

For decades, farmers and ranchers who have implemented soil health principles have improved the overall health of their land and have experienced more profitable operations, however, these observations have – to this point – been largely anecdotal. This research is quantifying these observations and examining how management decisions on grazing lands are connected to the overall health of the ecosystem, including the social and economic well-being of the farmer, rancher and land manager.

“Enhancing soil resilience and productivity necessitates a major investment in research that provides farmers and ranchers with the best tools and information to make informed decisions benefitting their operations, said FFAR Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “FFAR is proud to fund this audacious research that supports thriving farms and ranches while improving overall environmental health for the betterment of society.”

The project brings together researchers from 11 nonprofit organizations, for-profit businesses, private research institutes and public universities in the United States and the United Kingdom. Led by Noble Research Institute, Michigan State University, Colorado State University and the University of Wyoming, collaborators include Oregon State University, National Grazing Lands Coalition, USDA-ARS (Maryland, Colorado and Wyoming), Savory Institute, Snaplands LLC,  The Nature Conservancy and  the UK’s Quanterra Systems.

The project will provide farmers and ranchers tools that simply and accurately measure outcomes of soil health in grazing land environments to guide management decisions and quantify the impact of intentional management. Measuring soil health requires techniques that are often site-specific and costly for ranchers.

“Our focus is to develop strategies to increase the value of measurement, reduce the labor and cost of measurement, and increase our understanding of soil health beyond a single site to the ranch as a whole,” said Rhines president and CEO of Noble Research Institute. “This information – in conjunction with working directly with land managers – will help us better understand the drivers that inform producers to adopt and implement soil health-focused management practices.

The study is unique in that it will focus on the soil health of grazing lands. Most soil health initiatives explore cropland, failing to address the hundreds of millions of acres of degrading pasture and rangeland. These acres are best suited for livestock production and are incapable of sustained production of crops for human food.

Pasture and rangelands are among the largest ecosystems on the planet, covering 70 percent of the world agricultural area. There are 655 million acres of pasture and rangeland in the United States. This is 41 percent of the land usage in the continental United States, making it the single largest use of land in the nation – more than row crops, cities and timberlands.

“Improving the ecological management of these hundreds of millions of acres, farmers and ranchers can be catalysts for sequestering carbon, better managing fresh water, reducing typical greenhouse gas emissions and building soil health, which all benefit society at large,” said Dr. Jason Rowntree, professor of Sustainable Agriculture at Michigan State University and project co-lead. “In addition, applying these core agricultural principles also helps producers be more sustainable and profitable, ensuring they can leave a legacy of healthy land and brighter futures for their children. It’s a win-win.”

The project is exploring why some producers adopt soil health building principles, such as adaptive grazing management, while others do not. It is also examining social and economic sustainability (commonly called producer well-being), which have rarely been studied in agriculture, or in particular, livestock agriculture. Anecdotally, producers report that their profitability and/or quality of life improve when they adaptively manage their assets, including the soil, plants and grazing animals, according to Rowntree.

MEDIA INQUIRIES:

Colleen Klemczewski
Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research
Phone: 574.386.0658
Email: cklemczewski@foundationfar.org

Adam Calaway
Noble Research Institute
Phone: 580-224-6209
Email: jacalaway@noble.org

14 Oct 2021

Diversity and Phytonutrients

Diversity and Phytonutrients

A recent study published in Frontiers of Sustainable Food Systems adds credence to the value of diversity. The study compared meat and milk from livestock that had grazed pastures with a diversity of plants species (grasses, forbs, and legumes) to meat and milk from livestock that had grazed pastures with limited to no diversity of plants (i.e. a monoculture). What the study found was that products coming from livestock that graze diverse pastures are often higher in health-promoting phytonutrients such as terpenoids, phenols, carotenoids, and a variety of antioxidants – when compared to those coming off of monoculture pastures. Products from animals fed grain contain a reduced amount of these compounds or are absent from them entirely. The study also iterated that several phytochemicals found in grass-fed meat and milk are often found in quantities comparable to those found in plant foods and are known to have anti inflammatory, cardio-protective and anti-carcinogenic effects.

The way food is produced, and how those practices impact ecology, environment, and the health of consumers is of importance. This is something that we focus a lot of attention on at Greenacres, including funding and performing research to help us better understand these connections. Diversity is one of the attributes we study as a key indicator of the health of our pastures and woodlands. Based on the findings of this recent study, diversity has a large role in the nutritional quality of our products as well.