“Our idea is that sustainable is renewable and so we’re in the solar business because basically the ranch is a big solar panel that we use to harvest sunshine and turn into grass that we turn into beef. We also want to make farming attractive to the next generation because if the next generation isn’t attracted to it then it isn’t sustainable.”-Keith Lankister, Bar Double L Beef
Wendi Lankister met her husband Keith while studying ranch management in college. Keith Lankister was studying to be a farrier. The couple found they shared a desire to start their own sustainable cattle ranch. After twelve years of working on ranches around the west gaining valuable insight into the processes of raising livestock, the Lankisters settled just outside Glenrock, Wyoming with their three daughters. Today, the Bar Double L Beef ranch is a profitable adventure in homeschooling, healthy living and grass fed certified organic cattle.
Jeff and Laura Hamons manage Synergistic Acres, a sustainable livestock farm in Parker, Kan. Neither Jeff nor Laura grew up on a farm, but the couple decided to go into farming because they believe everyone in the Kansas City-area should have access to healthy, humanely-raised meat.
Synergistic Acres has been operating for a year and the family’s farming lifestyle has synched with their personal belief system. “We had not even considered living on a farm two years ago,” Jeff Hamons said. “We have tried to get a fast start without growing too fast too soon. We had a great first year and connected with a lot of families searching for the same food we raise.”
Last year, the farm raised around 500 broilers, 75 turkeys, breeding sows, a boar, four grower pigs, 18 cattle, and a flock of 70 layers. The Hamons keep livestock in a natural setting. The farm’s animals live their lives outside on pasture.
Sixteen years ago Matthew Kozazcki realized his childhood dreams of running his own farm. Located in Newbury, Massachusetts, Kozazcki’s Tendercrop Farms has grown to cover 600-acres on which he sustainably grows a diverse range of produce and livestock from peaches and spinach to Brussels sprouts and hormone and antiobiotic free chickens, black angus beef and turkeys.
I recently spoke with Kozazcki about the origin of his farm, the challenges that he faces in consistently applying sustainable practices, his goals for the future and more.
For Alexis Koefoed, a quest for purpose 15 years ago ended with the purchase of farmland in Vacaville, California. She is now co-owner along with her husband Eric of Soul Food Farm, a sustainable farm that raises pastured chickens for both meat and eggs. The Koefoeds farm full-time and live leanly off of the income they generate primarily from running their CSA. Lately, the couple has sought to diversify its product offering to lavender and other crops in order to increase the farm’s economic viability.
It all started with ice cream. When Albert Straus was studying at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, he won an ice cream judging contest. “It’s a weakness of mine, but it also sparked my interest,” he admits about his initial desire to convert the family farm to organic. The transition took a few years and in 1994 in partnership with his father the Straus Family Creamery was certified organic.
With Focus on Pasture-Raised Livestock, Two 1st Generation Farmers Forge Sustainable Path in the Ozarks (Part 1)May 24, 2012 | Hana Lurie
From 40 acres to 250. From $5,000 to $189,000 in sales within its first five years, Falling Sky Farm, a grass-based livestock farm located in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas about 100 miles outside of Little Rock, has been working to develop a sustainable farming model that it hopes to leverage and share with other like-minded farmers seeking to create economically viable operations.
Falling Sky Farm is helmed by co-owners Cody Hopkins, age 32 and his wife Andrea Todt, age 27. Both are first generation farmers who come from non-traditional farming backgrounds. Cody, a former high school physics teacher, has a Bachelors of Arts in Physics, and Andrea has a BA in Outdoor Education and Biology. They are largely self-taught.
Over the next 40 years, world population is expected to swell to 9 billion people. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that in that time global food production will need to increase by 70 percent in order to prevent massive famine. Simultaneously, producers must learn to cope with changes in climate, intensification of floods and droughts, depletion of resources, and dramatic political shifts. Meeting the coming demand for food will mean addressing these large challenges head on.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is busy when it comes to helping mold the future of sustainable agriculture. Officials at the university’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences say thinking about how farming can be done in a more environmentally and socially sustainable is just part of the natural flow of what the college does.
“Nobody talks about crop or animal production without thinking about sustainability and without incorporating it into their research,” said Bill Tracy, UW-Madison’s agronomy department chair and professor who recently stepped down from his post as the college’s interim dean.
Jim Howell thinks cattle get a bad rap. They have been charged with decimating grasslands, polluting the atmosphere with emissions, and competing with humans for food crops. That does not have to be the case, says the CEO of Grasslands, L.L.C., the for-profit arm of the Savory Institute that purchases ranches and grasslands in hopes of restoring them through holistic management practices.
Howell believes that holistic management of pasture grazing cattle could restore the grasslands of the northern plains and similar landscapes all over the globe and provide tremendous potential for sequestering carbon and mitigating climate change.