Category: Local Food

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.

09 Feb 2021

Cold Weather Garden Preparation

Cold Weather Garden Preparation

With the snow and cold arriving, it’s a great time to stop and think about what it means to eat fresh, local produce in the winter. Believe it or not, we start growing produce for the winter in May. It begins with sweet potatoes, moves to winter squash and root crops (carrots, beets, and radishes) in August and ends with greens planted in October. None of this process is easy, but the reward of having crisp winter carrots, tasty sweet potatoes and sweet winter greens is worth it!
The part of our winter production that is the most work is our winter greens. Many of the greens you see in our farm store during the winter months are what we call cold hardy. Cold hardy means that they can survive a range of cold temperatures and conditions, each to a varying degree. Things like spinach can handle freeze and thaw with no issue, while crops like arugula need special protection to be harvested throughout the winter. That’s where farming ingenuity comes in!

By using plastic-covered structures (tunnels), we are able to protect these cold hardy, yet not invincible, crops from the harshest winter conditions. These tunnels help capture heat, keep the rain, ice, and snow off the crops as well as protect them from bitter winter winds. When the temperatures really drop, we also use something called row cover, which is a bedsheet-like material, that helps keep the plants insulted from the cold even more! The greens you have been eating from our farm store this winter were seeded in late October and have been babied all winter long, so we can harvest them fresh for you weekly.

No matter how much we prepare, Mother Nature is still the undisputed champ. She takes her share of the harvest every winter and seems to be especially fond of using February’s cold weather to make sure we remember who is really in charge!

02 Dec 2020

Not all grass-fed beef is created equal

Not all grass-fed beef is created equal

Why are we selling beef raised in Michigan here at our farmstore? 100% grass fed and finished, these cattle were raised as part of our ongoing research into the nutritive benefits of grass-fed beef in collaboration with Michigan State University.

Definitive results from a 2018 collaborative study from Greenacres Foundation and Michigan State University (MSU), investigating the nutritional quality of grass-fed beef show that not all grass-fed beef is created equal. Among other nutritional benefits, grass-fed beef claims to have a more favorable fatty acid profile than grain-fed beef, with a purported omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2-to-1. The findings of our 2018 research showed that, of the 750 samples collected, a large portion labeled “grass-fed” had fatty acid profiles that more closely resembled grain-fed beef with omega-6 to omega-3 ratios in excess of 10-to-1. The 2018 study was based on beef samples from farms across the U.S. with self-reported production practices that were difficult to verify and had wide variability. This left us perplexed as to what was causing the skewed omega 6-to-3 ratios. More research was needed.

Chad Bitler
Greenacres Research Director

One thing was for certain though – the beef that was raised on farms like ours that grazed fresh, growing grass, without supplementation, resulted in the most favorable nutritional profiles.

To discover what factors were driving the unexpected results, Greenacres has once again partnered with MSU for a second study to increase the collective knowledge of grass-fed beef production and help increase consumer awareness. Sixty beef cattle were purchased by Greenacres and sent to MSU’s research farm in Battlefield, MI. There, the cattle were randomized and put on different feeding regimens, including forms of supplementation currently allowed under some “grass-fed” labeling claims. After 6 months the cattle were harvested and nutritional analysis will be completed to look for variation between the beef from cattle in different regimens. This study will be repeated again in 2021 and the results will be published in a refereed scientific journal – helping to fill current knowledge gaps to improve grass-fed beef production.

Of the sixty cattle in the study, the meat from seventeen were brought back to Cincinnati – these were the cattle who followed Greenacres production practices only – 100% grass fed and grass-finished – resulting in beef that we know is of the highest nutritional quality. This beef is from Michigan, but played an important role in our research toward bringing you the best quality, most nutritious beef.

Greenacres is proud to sponsor ground-breaking research in the world of agricultural science. Together with our partners at Michigan State University, we continue to explore the nutritional differences of grass-fed beef. We look forward to the next phase of this research being released to the public soon. Our beef products are available for sale throughout the year in our Farmstore, located at 8255 Spooky Hollow Road.

07 Aug 2020

Growing Summer Lettuce

Growing Summer Lettuce

Lettuce prefers the cool days and chilly nights of spring and fall in Southwest Ohio. Some of the lettuce we grow can tolerate temperatures as low as 28 degrees! This is why you find tons of lettuce in the store during the spring and fall (what we call our shoulder seasons). During the heat of summer, lettuce quickly becomes stressed and bolts (goes to seed) in the field. When lettuce bolts the flavor becomes VERY bitter – it isn’t that sweet crunchy leaf we expect. We know lettuce is a favorite of our Farm Store customers, which is why this year we decided to experiment with techniques to grow summer lettuce.

See how our tunnel is covered in shade cloth in the picture above? This keeps the full force of the sun off the tender leaves. Next you will notice the black woven plastic under the plants. This is called landscape fabric – it helps to keep the soil moist and cool, and also suppresses weeds. The last thing we do is water the lettuce, briefly, twice a day. This part is important to cool the lettuce down and keep it from going to seed.

Out of all of our experimenting this year, the most important part has been choosing the proper lettuce variety. We have experimented with a few “heat tolerant” lettuces and landed on one called Muir. Muir has been sweeter, crisper and more productive than any of the other lettuces we have grown this summer. So when you see lettuce in the Farm Store next to those tomatoes in the summer, know that a lot of work, care and thought went into getting that lettuce on to your plate in July and August. We hope that you enjoy every tasty bite!