There’s been a lot of experimentation going on around the Glynwood farm. The diversity of its operations mean that there is never a dull moment for Ken Kleinpeter, the director of Glynwood’s farm and facilities, or Dave Llewellyn, the manager of Glynwood’s CSA program, which doubled in size this season. In addition to opening up 5 acres of land for vegetable growing, the farmers of Glynwood have incorporated a stunning new barn into their livestock raising practices, and have received funding from two different USDA grants to respectively construct an enormous high tunnel for vegetable production and conduct extensive research on rotational grazing. This is all in addition to growing high quality, nutritious food for 100 households in the local community, and managing the grazing practices of hundreds of pastured goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens, and laying hens, all while keeping the improvement of the fertility of the soil and the health of the surrounding environment as the foremost goal of stewarding these acres. These guys give new definition to the idea of a busy workweek!
Last season Ken wrote a great post about rotational grazing, and I was lucky enough to get a detailed visual explanation of the results of his thorough research.
The invasive and tenacious Multiflora Rosebush has made itself quite at home on the farmland of Glynwood. Sheep and cattle can’t eat the Multiflora Rose, which prevents much of the land from being cleared and used as pasture. Ken has been engaged in studying the best ways to sustainably and efficiently eradicate its presence so the land may be used for pasture or put into agricultural production. His research has primarily focused on grazing goats intensively on the same land. Ken explained that using typical rotational grazing practices, the goats would consume the leaves of the plant, but the plant would continue to thrive once the goats moved on. Ken has been studying what happens if the goats don’t move on, measuring the effects of intensively grazing the goats on the same plot of land. He found that after two entire seasons, eight goats were able to completely eradicate even the stumps of the bushes. Ken’s theory is that if the goats are put through the same parcel of land a sufficient number of times, the seed bank in the soil will be emptied- since the goats will eat the plants before they have the chance to mature, new seeds will not be added, and the goats will consume the existing seeds as they sprout, eventually emptying the seed bank. Then the land will be able to return to pasture and take part in the complex choreography of the farm.