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CRAFT Farming with Livestock Double Feature Field Day

By Meg Augustine, Farm Finance Program Coordinator

It was one of the first great, sunny, spring days of the year when CRAFT Farmers gathered with Matt and Peg Schaeffer in Monroe, Wisconsin to learn about Sandhill Family Farms' efforts to incorporate livestock into their vegetable farming operations. Sandhill Family Farms operates a well-known community supported agriculture (CSA) farm that serves the Chicago area, and Matt and Peg’s family recently obtained a herd of sheep to diversify the farm's offerings to customers in the fall.

Field day participants eagerly listened while Matt explained the importance of protecting and maintaining pasture in order to keep livestock healthy. Matt candidly shared the challenges Sandhill Family Farms faces in improving the pasture on their land in order to protect the land from erosion and livestock from dangerous weeds. Overall, the group learned that developing an organic pasture can take several years and infinite patience. Peg lightened up discussions by demonstrating the best practices for moving sheep from barn to pasture while ensuring animal and food safety (let’s just say it involves some very artistic running and a good, old-fashioned food bribe).

After having a delicious potluck lunch with Matt and Peg, the group moved to the second highlight of the CRAFT double feature, Grassroots Farm, LLC where Lindsey Carpenter explained how ingenuity is essential for incorporating livestock into vegetable operations. Lindsey’s last name, Carpenter, is no coincidence. Since Grassroots began in 2008, Ms. Carpenter has been building her livestock operations from the ground up. With the help of some devoted friends and a few grants, using her elbow grease and abundant creativity, Lindsey has constructed shelters for chickens, geese, turkeys, pigs, and even some vegetables.  These structures allow Grassroots Farm, LLC to offer a great variety of meats, vegetables, and even apples to Grassroots’ customers.

Field day participants left Lindsey, Matt, and Peg’s company with a better understanding of the importance of practical, inexpensive shelters and safe, weed-free pastures for incorporating livestock into a vegetable farm.

Interested in attending a field day? Learn more about the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) at www.learngrowconnect.org/craft

See what resources the Farmer Training Initiative at Angelic Organics Learning Center is offering beginning farmers at www.learngrowconnect.org/farmer

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