Transition to Intensive Grazing
Echo Farm is an organic diversified farm raising meat (duck, chicken, beef, pork, lamb), dairy (cow, goat), vegetables, herbs, fruit, cut flowers and maple syrup. Our farm is unique because it has a strong foundation of environmental stewardship that goes far beyond "best practices" in organic agriculture. The farm business, Farmstead Catering, is also unique in that it is employee owned meaning that working members are entitled to profit sharing.
Echo Farm is recognized as a leader in sustainable agricultural practices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Eddy Foundation, the Adirondack Council, Equity Trust, and the Wild Farm Alliance. We have earned a reputation for preserving critical habitat, farming in ways that protect wildlife and drastically reducing our environmental footprint---both in terms of greenhouse gases and other localized sources of pollution/runoff. We are enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Reserve Program. We have received grants for our work in alternative energy and wetland protection. Your support allows us to continue our work on projects that positively impact our natural and human communities.
By maintaining the small scale of our farm, we create financial and labor resources to keep a sharp eye on the future of this landscape, and indeed the world. A primary focus is to leave these 170 acres in better shape than we found them once we pass on.
We propose to transition roughly 12 acres of corn fields into organically-managed intensive grazing, pasture and hay lands. The transition to pasture will enable us to raise our livestock outside with a natural diet that does not include grain (cattle) and will allow us to reduce the grain fed to others (chickens). Animals on pasture enjoy greater autonomy and benefit from many aspects left out of traditional agriculture bookkeeping, like access to sunlight and total carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere. Animals on pasture can have a net neutral impact on heat trapping gases.
The transition to pasture will enable us to raise our livestock outside with a natural diet that does not include grain (cattle) and will allow us to reduce the grain fed to others (chickens).
The farm sits on roughly 160 acres of which 14 acres were planted in corn grown conventionally. That system created polluted stream channels, nutrient-deficient soils and annual releases of carbon from the earth through deep tillage. As part of a commitment to diversified grass-based animal husbandry, the land in question would be fenced and used as pasture for cows and chickens. The cows are to be strip grazed in small paddocks which necessitate a perimeter fence. Meat and laying chickens will be run on the field after the cows each season to improve soil fertility and also to mitigate parasite pressure. Whenever weather conditions allow it, a single cutting of hay per year would be taken to feed our own animals through the winter. Currently, all hay is bought in from other farms.
The project will enhance conservation stewardship goals, bring needed fertility to the landscape and most of all improve the nutrition and overall welfare of our cattle and chickens.
Financing for this project will directly purchase materials required to erect and maintain a 2 strand high tension electric fence (budget available upon request). The fence will enable rotational grazing that will improve animal health all while sequestering carbon dioxide. We will use cedar harvested by horses on this property to supply the posts. Myself and other farmers will provide all the labor required to execute the project.