An Earth Day Lesson from a Family Farmer
Earth "Day" and the lead up to it is hard for me. A day, or even a week, seems hardly enough time to speak up for our planet at this critical moment. But it is a good day to take stock of what we have done over the last year and where we want to go. So today, we are shining some light on our newest oat farmer, Grassway Organic Farms, in hopes some of inspiring some hope in the role regenerative agriculture can play in helping keep this Earth of ours healthy for future generations.
Grassway is a family run 3rd generation dairy and crop farm. Farmer Gary (Dad) and Farmer Scott (son) own and manage the farm on a daily basis. 50+ years ago the original homestead started as 172 acres, and has grown to over 700 acres today. Since 2015, they have been transitioning the farm to organic. Scott and his wife Catherine also have 4 sweet young kids and their youngest, Judd, was our tour guide when we visited the farm during our Spring Break in early April.
Scott and Chatherine's goal is to have the opportunity for their kids to flourish on the farm and enjoy the responsibility of caring for the land and animals. They wholeheartedly believe the foundation of agriculture and all life on this planet begins with our rich soils and sunlight and they strive to manage their farm, land, and livestock in nature's image by creating a balance that maximizes solar energy utilization and promotes the natural cycles of nature. To us, there is no greater role model of true sustainability than a organic family farmers like Grassway who's livelihood and future depends on the land that they farm and desire to pass on to their kids.
We were first introduced to Grassway through a new pilot project we launched earlier this year in collaboration with Grain Millers, Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI), Sustainable Food Lab to promote crop diversity on Midwest farms and grow more oats in the Corn Belt. Grassway is in the process of diversifying their farm and transitioning acres to certified organic production and growing oats for Seven Sundays this year will help them transition roughly 100 acres profitably through cost sharing and paying a premium for their transitional oats.
So why diversify Midwest farms? Well for starters, our current 2 crop corn and soy system is failing our soils and small family farmers. Recent research by PFI shows that when oats and cover crops like alpha are added to a traditional soy and corn rotation, these crops help to regenerate the soil naturally so there is less fertilizer and chemical inputs needed. This in turn improves farmer profitability, reduces greenhouse gases (GHGs) and improves water quality from runoff.
There is still much work to be done to strengthen and expand this pilot project, get more small grains on the landscape and diversify our industrialized agricultural system, but it feels like a step in the right direction. Plus, when you eat good food grown by family farmers, you know what you’re getting — honest, real food grown by people who care about their land, their community and their future.
To celebrate Earth Week and our new friends at Grassway Farms, we are offering a 25% discount on all orders of our new certified organic "Farmer's Market" Mix with code 'EARTHDAY2019'.