Category: Idea

21 Jun 2022
tall grass with wooden and wire fencing

Why We Mow Less

tall green grass with wire fence and trees in background

Why We Mow Less

Tall Grass is Good Stewardship

Around Greenacres, you may notice some of our grasses are not mowed frequently, and can grow quite tall.  While freshly cut lawns can look nice, mowing isn’t beneficial for the environment. Gas-powered mowers put emissions into the atmosphere, contributing to air pollution. Mowers also cut down native wildflowers, reducing the nectar available to pollinators. Mowers are also heavy machines that compact the soil. By mowing less, we practice good stewardship by supporting our ecosystems and native plants.

Rather than over-using fuel-powered mowers, we can also let our cattle, sheep, and horses graze and maintain our landscaping naturally. Greenacres livestock manager, Leevi Stump, informs us, “It is an extensive process managing all of the sections of property we graze. The livestock are our ‘mowers’ and their impact is great as their hooves return any decaying material to the Earth where insects and soil microbes can utilize it. Grass’ main purpose is to reproduce, and as it matures and seeds out, it loses its nutritional value. Grazing encourages regrowth and root development and lengthens the time the plant is in a vegetative state, allowing the grasses to capture as much solar energy as possible leading to improved soil and animal health.”.

tall grass with wooden and wire fencing

“It is an extensive process managing all of the sections of property we graze. The livestock are our ‘mowers’ and their impact is great as their hooves return any decaying material to the Earth where insects and soil microbes can utilize it. Grass’ main purpose is to reproduce, and as it matures and seeds out, it loses its nutritional value. Grazing encourages regrowth and root development and lengthens the time the plant is in a vegetative state, allowing the grasses to capture as much solar energy as possible leading to improved soil and animal health.”

Leevi Stump, Livestock Manager

Our local pollinator and bird populations benefit when we mow less, by preserving their food sources and habitats. These animals and insects are essential components of our ecosystems and in our garden production. Native birds and some native insects use organic materials like grasses to build their homes. So, the less we mow, the better it is for our pollinator and bird communities.

Mowing can also have a harsh effect on the ground below. Heavy machinery continually compacts the soil, making it difficult for healthy root growth. When we allow the land to rest by mowing less often, roots are able to grow deeper into the soil. With longer and stronger roots, water can penetrate deeper into the root zone, making the plants less susceptible to heat stress and more drought resistant. 

You can mow less, too!

Even if you don’t have livestock on your property, you can mow less often and still see environmental benefits! Try setting aside a portion of what you typically mow, and let it grow tall, mowing about once a year. Take note of any new flora or fauna you observe throughout the seasons! You can even sow seeds of native plants to increase the biodiversity of your plot. You’ll spend less time mowing, while also lowering your carbon footprint.

If you have any questions about our land management practices, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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.

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.

14 Oct 2021

A Responsible Protein Source

A Responsible Protein Source

How does Greenacres beef compare to plant-based “meat alternatives”? The ingredients used to produce these products (soy, peas, seed oils, rice, etc) are grown in huge, industrial agricultural operations that tend to specialize in and grow only one crop, a practice known as ‘monocropping’. Monocrop agriculture harms the environment in many ways; through the compaction and degradation of soils, the usage of huge quantities of pesticides and herbicides, the pollution of water, and the loss of biodiversity.

Along with physical compaction from heavy machinery, monocropped soils are often devoid of the lifeforms you’d find in healthy soils, like bacteria, invertebrates, insects, and fungi. This soil biology is largely responsible for the development of soil organic matter – which like a sponge is able to hold 18 times its own weight in water – and building soil aggregates, which provide pore spaces in the soil to allow water to easily infiltrate down into the soil profile. Thus, depleted biology leads directly to a loss of water absorption and retention, causing runoff and erosion to become serious issues.

Besides the environmental costs of monocrop farming, “meat alternatives” are also reliant on huge processing plants and long supply chains to turn a raw soybean into processed ingredients, like soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, and soy leghemoglobin. Highly processed foods take your food further from your farmer, further from the land on which the foods are grown, and are reliant on wealthy multinational corporations to keep the complex supply chains and processing plants operating.

Raising cattle on pasture actually improves the environment, improving both the quality and quantity of soil biology, sequestering carbon and building biodiversity. If you’re looking for responsible protein choice, look no further than 100% grassfed, grass-finished beef.