Regenerative ag aims to go mainstream

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By Joel McNair

Organic and grassfed production practices have done great things for thousands of farmers and ranchers. Millions of consumers have benefited, too.

But looking at this from a broader perspective — and I think most organic and grassfed people do look at things this way — there’s a big problem here:

Very few acres are being farmed and ranched as organic and/or grassfed.

The things we want to achieve in terms of bettering people and the planet aren’t getting done. Indeed, by most reports the overall picture here is getting darker by the day.

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Catching up with some innovators

Jersey on pasture

Karremans sharpen their focus at Reverence Farms

By Martha Hoffman Kerestes

Saxapahaw, NC — At Reverence Farms, (see Graze article, March 2019) they’re not just building soil and dairy genetics. They’re building community.

Whether it’s former dairymen in the area who pitch in to help, graziers across the country calling with questions, customers who come for pastured meats, or the employees who keep the farm moving, for Hubert Karreman and Suzanne Nelson Karreman it’s about the people more than anything else.

Honing in on the farm’s purpose has meant scaling back some of the farm’s diverse enterprises. Hue and Suzanne closed their restaurant, scaled back the pastured hogs and sheep, quit raising meat birds, stopped raising as many veal calves, and pivoted from raw milk sales to a creamery market.

The shifts were made for a number of reasons, including feeling they were spread too thin, difficulties in convincing customers to pay what it took to give restaurant help a living wage, and a concern that catering to vegetarian restaurant customers by using vegetable oils was compromising their vision of offering the healthier animal fats that are served at the Karremans’ own family table.

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Focusing on quality food — and life

Cattle and sheep on pasture

Seasonality important to Jako Farm

By Martha Hoffman Kerestes

Hutchinson, Kansas — Quality of life is a major focus for the King family as they direct market a variety of grassfed meat and dairy products in central Kansas.

“The farm is here to work for us and not us for the farm,” explains Daniel King, who manages Jako Farm with his wife, Robyn. They took over the business from Daniel’s parents Ken and Judy in 2015.

To that end, Daniel and Robyn implement an array of time- and labor-saving measures started by his parents that include a seasonal milking schedule and once-a-day milking, nurse cows, frozen milk and more.

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A store added much to our farm sales efforts

Barn and farm store

By Cliff McConville and Anna Lipinska

Opening our on-farm store in May 2016 was one of the best things we have done to grow our farm business and stabilize our customer base.

After starting our grass-based farm in 2011, initially we were taking only online orders for grassfed beef and pasture-fed broilers, eggs and pork, with pickup appointments scheduled at our house in northwest suburban Chicago.

In spring 2012 we started offering raw milk through a herdshare program, with customers picking up their shares from the barn refrigerator on assigned days. Soon we began leaving eggs, yogurt, honey and meat orders in the barn fridge for herdshare customers on an honor system.

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Farming in the midst of humanity

Farmers in milking parlor

All Grass Farms thrives in suburbia

By Joel McNair

Dundee, Illinois — Housing subdivisions. Strip malls. Stoplights. Traffic at volumes that can make leaving the driveway a harrowing adventure. Your farming nightmare is farm business nirvana for Cliff McConville and Anna Lipinska.

Asserts Cliff, “I would not put a farm anywhere besides an urban area. That’s where the people are.”

While most farmers probably don’t feel that way, Cliff does have a point in regard to the business that he and Anna are running. Where else but in the midst of a nine-million person metropolitan area could a grass farm ring up $1.7 million in annual direct sales out of a two-car garage with just $20,000 worth of upgrades?

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From apprenticeship to ownership

farmers with sign

Young farmers thrilled to be launching a business

By Martha Hoffman Kerestes

Leeds, Maine — A 350-acre former dairy farm will have cows again, thanks to Haden Gooch and Katie Gualtieri. Just owning the land is something they find hard to wrap their minds around.

“I never thought we could have our own farm,” Haden says.

The road to farm ownership and dairying has been a long one, with years of working on different farms and learning the many facets of raising livestock.

Neither of them grew up on a farm. Haden’s grandfather had a beef operation that he visited but never really worked on. Both Haden and Katie were interested in agriculture, though.

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