Category: Idea

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.

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.