Category: Featured

02 Sep 2021

Raising Turkeys at Greenacres

Raising Turkeys at Greenacres

Commercially produced turkeys are usually raised in huge indoor warehouses, a completely different life than turkeys raised at Greenacres. From August to November, our livestock crew cares for hundreds of turkeys that arrive as day-old poults. They spend their first few weeks in a brooder, a heated housing unit, until they’re old enough to regulate their own body temperature and live outside.

Turkeys Belong Outside

After 4-5 weeks, the young turkeys are big enough to move outdoors, but still too small to leave unprotected. They spend the next 3 weeks on pasture while housed in our poultry tractors, protected from predators while being moved to fresh grass daily. Their nitrogen- rich manure is a key component in building our soil fertility.

Once they are large enough to no longer be attractive to a hawk or owl, they are released from the tractors to large fenced paddocks where they are frequently rotated through the pasture. We keep our bulls nearby to discourage coyotes. Turkeys instinctively roost up off the ground to protect themselves from predators, so we provide roosting houses that were custom designed by our livestock manager and fabricated by our estate crew.

A Healthy Lifestyle

What do our turkeys eat? Birds are omnivores, needing a variety of plant and animal foods to stay healthy. In addition to the insects, grasses, clover, etc. they forage, we also provide a locally produced, non-GMO turkey feed. This well-rounded diet, in addition to all the exercise they get from roaming the pasture, results in a much more delicious turkey.

All livestock handling and housing arrangements on our farm meet or exceed Certified Humane guidelines. Our turkeys are carefully loaded into our trailer the Monday before Thanksgiving and driven by our staff to our poultry butcher; a small, family owned, USDA inspected facility only 80 miles from our farm. Here they are humanely processed and packaged for your Thanksgiving dinner.

The Greenacres Difference

So what’s the difference? Why go through all this trouble to raise our turkeys? Because all these choices make a difference. Our efforts result in healthier birds who live happier lives, healthier conditions for our staff, healthier soils, and a healthier, more delicious turkey to grace your holiday table. A note about feathers… The turkey you typically buy at the grocery store has been bred to have white feathers, a genetic trait selected so feathers aren’t as visible, at the expense of overall turkey health and flavor. Our turkeys have bronze feathers, which may occasionally be visible on the turkey you bring home – simply remove before cooking.

14 Jul 2021

Greenacres Acquires Michaela Farm in Oldenburg

Greenacres Acquires Michaela Farm in Oldenburg

Greenacres has officially acquired Michaela Farm from the Sisters of St. Francis of Oldenburg. Conversations and visits between the Sisters and Greenacres began in 2019 and it quickly became apparent that the missions of both parties were very much aligned, eventually leading to formal contract negotiations beginning in 2020 and the closing being finalized this past week.

“We’re excited for what’s next,” says Carter Randolph, Greenacres president. “When working on a project with so much history in the community you want to make sure things are done the right way. For us, that meant taking our time working with the Sisters, learning the values of the organization, and the things that make it so special. As we work to incorporate our mission in Oldenburg, we want to make sure that we preserve those ideals too.” says Randolph.

Now that the sale is official, Greenacres will begin the process of evaluating the property and what it will need in order to begin field trips for local school children potentially as early as spring of 2022. This means looking at things like improved school bus access and accessible trails for all visiting children. Currently, Greenacres serves about 30,000 students in Cincinnati and hopes this acquisition will help expand their ability to educate surrounding communities.

In addition to the education enhancements, Greenacres will maintain the traditions of the farm using generative practices to produce healthy, sustainable products to offer in the Farm Store. “Knowing that the farm will continue to thrive with an agriculture system that we believe in is everything we could have asked for,” says Daniel Wilds, Greenacres Michaela Farm Manager. “We hope our customers stick with us through the transition, as we will still have the products they have come to love and we are thrilled to be able to expand those offerings in coming years,” says Wilds.

Being good neighbors is a key component of the Greenacres mission, so community engagement will also be a top priority. As part of this process, Greenacres will continue to work with the Sisters of St. Francis to learn about the relationships that built Oldenburg and Batesville. “We feel blessed to pass on these sacred acres to a non-profit organization that will honor our farm’s 167-year history and enhances our vision and hopes for its use. The influence of Michaela Farm will expand as its treasures will be shared by a growing number of people, both students and adults, who visit there.” says Sister Delouise Menges, OSF.

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.

The Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana are the modern legacies of the 800-year-old Franciscan traditions. They are part of a worldwide community of over one million vowed and secular Franciscan men and women who live and pray with us and around us. In 1851, they began an educational endeavor—the foundational seed of the Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception, and later Marian College—as a way to fulfill the mission and requirement to provide education to the community.

For more information please send inquiries to: mail@green-acres.org.

06 May 2021

Spring 2021 Update

Spring 2021 Update

Pastures Reborn

Spring at Greenacres is an exciting time. Not only are we welcoming new animals to the farm, but our pastures are being “reborn” as well. Grasses that have sat dormant through the cold of winter have started to green up and burst forth with new and vigorous growth. How this early growth is managed will set the stage for the rest of the growing season. It might seem counter-intuitive as it appears the grass is just being established, but the key to maintaining healthy nutritious stands of forage is to move the herds quickly over the land allowing them to take the “first bite”.  “Because grass has a single purpose, which is to reproduce, when it reaches maturity it will start to lose nutritional value and begin to die back.  Moving quickly and keeping animals in a tight group, every square foot of pasture is impacted, while maximizing the nutritional quality for our animals.” says Jonathan Gabis, Manager of Livestock Operations. Hooves help return decaying material back to the earth where it can be utilized by insects and soil microbes while grazing encourages regrowth, root development, and lengthens time in a vegetative state, allowing the grasses to capture as much solar energy as possible leading to improved soil and animal health. 

Greenhouse Expansion

The Greenhouse is “growing” a new wing. We expect this expansion to be completed this summer.  The extra capacity will allow us to increase vegetable production, provide additional space for research projects, and allow more visiting schools the opportunity to experience how a commercial greenhouse works.

Equipped with top-of-the-line grow lights, cooling equipment, and high ceilings, this new addition should be able to handle any of the weather challenges that Cincinnati offers. “Fresh, local, organically grown, soil based tomatoes ALL season long is an exciting prospect, and one that we hope to be able to bring to our customers in 2021”, says Ian Zeglin, Manager of Garden Operations.  We look forward to this project being finished and online soon.           

State-of-the-Art Composting

Two years ago our Compost Manager, Nate Bundy, began to explore ways Greenacres could be more self-sufficient with our onsite garden needs, while reducing the amount of waste we produce. His research led him to a compost system developed by Green Mountain Technologies, which can process up to 1000 tons of waste products a year. Not only does this technology speed up the time in which great compost can be made because of its ability to maintain temperatures around 145° F, it also allows materials like meat and dairy products to be used as compost material which are typically hard to break down. This high heat system has another benefit in that it will destroy any weed seeds and plant pathogens that might be present. 

After years of planning and research,  Nate’s vision became a reality earlier this year as our first batch of compost was processed in our new Green Mountain facility. “This system provides us an amazing educational asset that will hopefully inspire students to learn more about how their food is grown and what happens to waste when they toss it in the trash” says Bundy. His projects the system will divert more than 2500lbs of employee food waste from local landfills in the first year alone. This number will increase as children return for field trips and we have a full season of events and weddings. This is a great step towards our commitment towards making sure we live up to the “Green” in Greenacres.      

This system provides us an amazing educational asset that will hopefully inspire students to learn more about how their food is grown and what happens to waste when they toss it in the trash”

-Nate Bundy, Greenhouse Coordinator and Compost Manager

A Year of New Education Support

Last spring, as COVID-19 began to impact education systems everywhere, including Greenacres, we quickly realized that we would need to shift our talents to meet this challenge. With the busloads of students visiting Greenacres on pause, we started to translate our lesson concepts into scripts for video production and exploring other ways we could continue to educate.

A year later we are proud to look back on all that we have accomplished in this time frame. We have created and shared over 50 unique resource videos for school teachers whose classes missed their annual Greenacres experience. Each was scripted, filmed and edited by the Greenacres Education Team in a timeless fashion for future use as a field trip preview or to “revisit” an experience back in the classroom. New “Ask an Educator” Q&A sessions followed, to further support video content, as curious students asked questions and interacted with educators, virtually. We were even able to offer an in-person education series we called Greenacres Children’s Discovery Days. We were thrilled to be able to provide this outlet to children so they could continue hands-on learning experiences in a safe environment. These efforts combined allowed Greenacres educators to continue to do what they love most, educating children!

“Our goals for this school year were to get kids outside, support teachers and keep our educators educating. Feedback received from teachers and parents have shown us we successfully met all three.”

-Donna Griffen, Director of Education

Over a year of shifting gears to offer new education support, in-person field trips are now returning and field trip lesson plans are being reinstated. Only now, those lessons have new resource videos to reinforce concepts back in the classroom after a (possibly more appreciated) field trip to Greenacres.

Preparing for Fall Field Trips in Brown County

In 2020, construction began on our new education center located in Lewis Township in Brown County. The facility will feature 4 classrooms, plus offices for our staff. With this building coming online soon, we are looking forward to hosting schools for field trips from surrounding areas in the fall of 2021. “Because of the generosity of our founders, we are able to offer FREE field trips at our Lewis Township location on State Route 505. This is an expansion of our mission that we have been carrying out for over 30 years in Cincinnati.” said Joe Phelps, Environment Educator and Lewis Township Site Supervisor. These classes will be some of the first to experience a Greenacres environment education program at our new property during the 2021-2022 school year. Students will explore forests, pastures, creeks, and ponds correlating with classroom topics like “Plants and Insects” and “Fossils”.

If you know a teacher or school in the area who would be interested in a field trip at this location, please have them contact our education coordinator Katie Brown at kbrown@green-acres.org or Joe Phelps at jphelps@green-acres.org. Registration is open at all Greenacres education sites for school-aged children, Kindergarten-12th grades. Use our field trip programming tool to browse popular topics by grade and academic subject. Choose a field trip program that supports your classroom curriculum as well as aligns with grade-level academic learning standards. As always, we are here to customize your needs to co-create the best Greenacres experience possible for your students.

“Because of the generosity of our founders, we are able to offer FREE field trips at our Lewis Township location on State Route 505.

-Joe Phelps, Environment Educator and Site Supervisor

Summer Event Dates Set

Our Grand Tent was installed in early April and we’re busy planning our summer events. “Despite the challenges presented to us by COVID, we remain committed to providing a quality experience for all that attend an event at Greenacres. Safety is always a top priority and we continue to follow all current COVID guidelines given by the State of Ohio.” says Kyle Conlon, Greenacres Events Director. 

Dates have been set for our Music Under the Stars series on July 9th and August 13th. We look forward to hosting performers from the Cincinnati Pops again for these unique concerts. These events sell out quickly so make sure to follow us on social media or subscribe to our email newsletter to be the first to know when tickets go on sale.

Farm Store is Open for In-Person Shopping

Our Farm Store reopened for in-person shopping again in April! We’re excited to welcome you back, and appreciate your grace and kindness as we continue to navigate keeping our staff and guests healthy. Our livestock team’s increased production has led to great inventory of eggs, 100% grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, and woodland raised pork at the store! We have our first batch of new hickory smoked pork andouille sausage available now. It’s very flavorful, with just a hint of heat – excellent with eggs for breakfast, or grilled in a bun with grainy mustard, or in a jambalaya. Spring vegetables, especially tender greens, are in abundance, as well as radishes, turnips, beets, and microgreens. Beautiful flower bouquets and arrangements, which we will continue to offer throughout the year, have been filling the store with brilliant color. Ranunculus, anemones, tulips and lilies are with us until the summertime zinnias and sunflowers come along. For the first time ever, we held a plant sale on Mother’s Day weekend, where we offered vegetable, flower and herb starts to plant in your home gardens! We had great weather and a great turnout – we look forward to holding that event again next year. As we ramp up into the summer season, keep an eye on our email newsletter and the website to know when your favorite summer veggies come into the Farm Store!

Spring Equine Lessons

Spring Session is quickly coming to a close, but we are looking forward to Summer and increasing the number of students in our riding programs after scaling back for Covid precautions. Our riders are looking forward to testing out our new HDR saddles as well as meeting our new school horses. We know many families still have children on our waitlist and we hope to continue to increase the number of students in our upcoming sessions so that all of our riders can get back to doing what they love.

I am very excited to welcome back our riders after slowly reopening for over a year! We have had several new horses in the barn, that I am sure will be barn favorites.”

-Becca North, Equine Manager

Next Phase of Native Warm Season Grass Research

We continue to collaborate with the University of Tennessee, researching the best ways to establish native warm season grasses in local pastures and ecosystems. “We believe that native warm season grasses provide incredible ecological benefits, including the improvement of wildlife habitat and ecosystem services all while adding resiliency to our production systems in the face of climate change” says Chad Bitler, Greenacres Research Director.

A greenhouse study is currently underway looking at the germination and growth of big bluestem under different pH and phosphorus regimes. This research will provide insights into the general physiology and response of big bluestem under relatively poor soil conditions and results will help develop best practices for establishing native warm season stands.

Spring Vegetation

Greenacres researchers have been back in the woods monitoring our research transects for spring vegetation and animal life. They recently added our Water Quality Education Center in Milford to this project in addition to our Indian Hill and Lewis Township locations. By regularly monitoring these plots, they get a snapshot of how each ecosystem is responding to natural and manmade changes. This spring they have continued to see an increase in invasive species like Lesser Celandine. The team was excited find an abundance of spring ephemerals and salamanders present at the Water Quality Education Center.

Ley Field

Working with our livestock and garden teams, we started a 4 year research project in March collecting data on Ley Field Farming. Ley Farming is a method which incorporates livestock into the crop production system. The Ley Field is divided into 4 sections and in a given year two sections are grazed and two sections are used for vegetable production. The sections are then rotated annually, giving each 2 years of livestock impact. Our goal is to develop more accurate information about which inputs have the greatest positive impact on the soil health while maximizing crop yield. The crop production team is in charge of cover crops and vegetable production, while the livestock team grazes the plots not in production. The research team collects cover crop and soil health data.

“We believe that native warm season grasses provide incredible ecological benefits, including the improvement of wildlife habitat and ecosystem services all while adding resiliency to our production systems in the face of climate change.

-Chad Bitler, Research Director

15 Jan 2021

January 2021 – COVID Update

January 2021 – COVID Update

January 15 – 2021

With Hamilton County entering purple status, we would like to remind you that Greenacres is operating on an essential employees only status and will be suspending any programming until further notice.

What does this mean for patrons of Greenacres: 

  • Our farm store will remain open and continue to operate on a curbside pickup model. Please use our product availability page to see what we have available and for instructions on how to place an order. 
  • Farm production will remain consistent in order to provide as many fresh vegetables and meat products to our farm store and community. 
  • All location, besides the Farm Store, are currently closed to visitors in order to keep everyone safe as well as our livestock.
  • Education, equine, and volunteer programs are on hold and will return as soon as local and state health guidelines determine it to be safe. If you have a specific question about a program please reach out to your contact person in that department.
  • Our venue will be closed for meetings and tours until further notice. 

 

We look forward to serving you this year and will continue to monitor the situation in order to keep our guests, employees and animals safe.