Dispatches from the Hill RSS



On Becoming a Savory Institute Accredited Holistic Management Professional

As many of you know, we've been practicing some facsimile of Savory's holistic livestock management on our farm since 2012—to tremendous effect. Our yields are up. Our resiliency is up. The nutrition of our forage is up. Our sheep are incredibly healthy and now 100% grass-fed. Our dollars generated-per-acre is WAY up. And our inputs are...zero. None of this would have been possible had I not stumbled across Allan Savory's TED Talk at 3am one night while bouncing my colicky baby boy and panicking about the state of our farm. The chain of events (and research and experiments) that started that night have transformed our farm and my life in amazing ways. But, we can do better. I will admit...

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Stockpiling Grass for Early Spring Grazing

Last season, the sheep grazed our South Meadow in mid June, and instead of mowing and baling the second growth in August or September, we let that grass stand and go into winter.  About two weeks ago, we brought the sheep out of their winter paddocks and started them back on their grazing rotation in the South Meadow. There was no hint of green growth yet—the snow had just melted and the grasses were all brown and dormant looking. But the sheep were eager to leave their winter digs and start foraging, and they happily dove into their work. This before and after image shows the dense, stockpiled grass ahead of grazing, and the cleared grass afterward. The thick cover...

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Of Hogs and Hugels: Creating a Perennial Food Forest

As regenerative farmers, our top priority is to sequester carbon into the soil. There are many methods to do this—and the most effective method for a piece of land depends upon the makeup of the land being regenerated. Since our farm is mostly pasture, we use sheep and poultry to holistically manage the land’s water, carbon, and nutrient cycles. The system we’ve built mimics the natural grassland ecosystem (of hundreds of years ago) and takes advantage of the fast growth of perennial grasses and forbs. The sheep graze, trample, and poop their way across our fields, the birds follow pecking,scratching and further fertilizing, and the pasture comes roaring back—rebuilding the ecosystem from the soil up. Using this system, we’ve been...

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2017's Vermont Regenerative Soils Program

I'm excited to tell you that, earlier this month, Senator Campion introduced a revised and updated version of our regenerative soils bill to the Vermont legislature. The bill is S.43: An act relating to establishing a regenerative soils program. (Full text here.) It is currently with the Senate Commitee on Natural Resources and Energy, and is co-sponsored by Senators Sears, Bray, Clarkson, Pearson, and Pollina. Healthy Land, Healthy Profits I don't play politics. If I had my way, most days I'd never leave the farm. The reason I've written and proposed this legislation—with the help of many people smarter than I am—is simple: I believe it is in the interest of all Vermonters to rebuild an agricultural economy that uses...

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