PLENTY SUMMER 2020 | Page 10

to healthy, robust plants—whether they are crops, animal forage or trees. When we plow the soil, we disrupt those beneficial network connections, deterring green plants from getting all the nutrition they need to prosper. . To manifest SGA’s vision, SGA will be partnering with Greg Glenn—thanks to a connection made by Land Link Montgomery — an experienced regenerative farmer and CEO of Rocklands Livestock Company. Using another term that also captures SCA’s goals for the Linden Farm, Greg explains that, “Agroecology is a form of agricultural production that considers and utilizes the entire farm ecosystem—including wildlife—for the balanced, optimized production of various agricultural products, such as meats, eggs and dairy, fiber, garden and forest produce, honey, timber, and more. In agroecology, each component of the ecosystem is utilized for the benefit of the whole ecosystem.” An important goal of the partnership will be to document changes to the soil and to the land. Baseline soil studies have already been executed. Keeping records of all the processes and techniques used on the farm, testing soil annually to verify how the changes in farming have affected the soil, and documenting how the ecosystem is altered will support our understanding of the changes that we can see. Additionally, through partnerships with scientists and academics, teachers and students, the land, while being farmed will also be studied, deepening our agricultural knowledge. We anticipate more partnerships with farm- ers who want to use regenerative farming methodologies on small parcels of the farm to grow vegetables or berries, for example. A small apiary that already operates on the farm will also likely expand. Transition begins this year; fields of annual row crops are to become pasture, beginning with planting a diverse cover crop that will reduce soil compaction with the deep taproots of tillage radishes and improve soil fertility with a mixture of cowpeas, red clover, and more. After several months’ growth, these annuals will be replaced with perennial species that will comprise the foundation of the pasture. Since ruminants play an important role in improving the land’s health, sturdy perimeter fencing must be installed before they arrive. Why livestock? Imagine the rolling American prairie, with vast herds of bison, or the African savannahs with large mixed herds of ungulates. To avoid predation, those herds evolved to move about frequently. Although those ecosystems are now fragmented, we recognize that they were incred- Once permanent pasture is established, the next step will be to transition into silvopasture, i.e., the deliberate planting of trees onto the pasture as part of the livestock operation. Trees provide shade for animals in the heat and some shelter from winter conditions. Equally important, trees offer habitat for wildlife and food sources for pollinators, plus the potential for another income stream: a harvestable crop, depending on the species chosen. The addition of trees means the land will sequester even more carbon and capture more precipitation. ibly healthy and diverse. We know that the roots of American prairie grasses reached many feet down into the soil. To mimic them, ruminants will graze small areas intensively, using temporary fencing, before being moved to a fresh section of field. Plant growth in perennial pastures is actually stimu- 10 plenty I Summer growing 2020