Month: May 2020

30 May 2020

Soil Results “Leyed” Out

Soil Results “Leyed” Out

In our pursuit of being a truly generative farm, we’ve been practicing and studying a pre-industrialized farming method called Ley farming. This is a rotational technique in which crops, forage, and animals are all used in various stages in a field’s life cycle to increase the fertility and the health of the soil. Our research team recently collected soil samples as part of our ongoing Ley Field Research Project in which we are studying the benefits of integrating crop and livestock systems. Samples were taken from two fields,  both in different stages of the Ley rotation system. Field one (GALR1) had been recently grazed by cattle, while the second field (GALR2) had just finished two years of crop production. The samples were sent in for analyses on soil health and nutrients. The table below displays the results of select soil measurement.

The results from fields that had been recently grazed (GALR1) compared to fields coming off two years of crop production (GALR2) showed some interesting trends. GALR2 had the lowest levels of organic matter (providing nutrients and habitat to soil organisms) and trace minerals (key elements in plant growth), which is to be expected after two years of plant production. Conversely, GALR1 had much higher levels of organic matter and trace minerals. Results indicate cattle can increase organic matter by manure and plant incorporation into the soil. Cattle may also be cycling the trace minerals by consuming and then returning them to the soil. The soil health score ranges from 0-30 and the higher the number the better the soil is, but anything above a 7 is considered to be healthy. Although both fields have healthy soil,  GALR2 did have a lower score, consistent with other measurements.

–Chad G.

Select soil results are presented from Ley Field soil samples.

Ley Field Soil Organic Matter % Soil Health Calculation Cobalt ppm Molybdenum ppm
GALR1 4.1 22.99 0.63 0.71
GALR2 3.8 16.99 0.49 0.02
27 May 2020

Life of a Tadpole

Life of a Tadpole

You step into the warm sun on a late spring afternoon. As you walk along the edge of a shallow pond, you hear the distinctive ‘PLOP’ of a frog jumping to the safety of the cool waters. You glance down into the water and see the surface looks as if it is almost alive- the surface is writhing and wriggling in the shallows. Upon closer inspection, you see hundreds, if not thousands of tiny tadpoles!

Tadpoles have captured the attention and imagination of all ages, from toddlers to adults.

It’s hard for us to grasp how that tiny squirming speck will one day become an adult frog or toad. Did you know that Ohio is home to 15 species of frogs and toads? Every one of those species must seek out a water source and go through complete metamorphosis: from egg to tadpole to froglet to adult. One of our loudest and largest residents exemplifies the stages of a tadpole quite well. Let’s check out the life cycle of our bullfrog!

On a warm spring or early summer night, a female bullfrog can lay up to 20,000 eggs! She will lay these eggs in different clutches with varying amounts of eggs in each. As those tiny tadpoles start to take shape, they hatch out in one to three weeks. Interestingly, the amount of time needed to emerge largely depends on the temperature. The warmer it is, the faster the tadpoles will develop. Once the tadpoles hatch out, it’s growing time. Young tadpoles spend their days munching on dead vegetation and occasionally other dead tadpoles! Tadpoles breathe using their gills, which are covered by a skin flap to protect this sensitive organ. Those gills don’t stick around forever. At just four weeks, tadpoles start to develop lungs. However, their gills do not disappear until they are almost ready to transition to an adult frog. Could you imagine being able to breathe in two different ways? Tadpoles get to “test drive” their lungs long before they depend on them. If you ever see tadpoles swimming to the surface and darting back down, then you are witnessing a tadpole learning to breathe from its lungs.

Bullfrogs have an unusually large range in development and can spend anywhere from one to two years as a tadpole. While some of our local toads and frogs can develop as quickly as a couple of months. A bullfrog tadpole eats everything it can get its mouth around, up until the magic happens. At first, just a small nub will appear at the base of the tadpole’s body. As that nub grows little by little each day, look closely, there are probably small webbed feet attached to that pollywog! That first set of tiny webbed feet will grow into long and powerful back legs, built for hopping and swimming. As the back legs are becoming fully recognizable, other changes start to happen to the tadpole; front legs sprout, the tail shortens, and the body of that tadpole is no longer a rounded lump, it is elongated and now has structure. At this stage, it is not quite a tadpole, not quite a frog…it’s a froglet! Froglets have fully formed lungs and can be spotted hopping around the edges of the pond. It will not be long until the froglet’s tail is absorbed into its body and finally becomes a frog.

It’s no wonder tadpoles induce such wonderment to all audiences. The next time you are chasing a frog around a pond or wetland, be sure to look for those cute little tadpoles too. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find one with legs! If you would like to learn more about tadpoles and see them in their different developmental stages, watch this video or check your knowledge with our ‘Bullfrog Life Cycle Activity’ coloring page..

19 May 2020

2020 Summer Camps Update

2020 Summer Camps Update

May 19 2020

In light of the health and safety issues created by the COVID -19 virus Greenacres is cancelling our Summer Camp programs for 2020 with full refunds being issued over the coming weeks.  This decision was not easy to reach, but we will not put any child at risk. We carefully reviewed Ohio’s guidelines for Day Camp and the activities of our day camps. It quickly became clear that compliance with the guidelines would greatly distract from the camp activities and we could not guarantee compliance with all of the guidelines at all times.

Our Summer Camps have been a fixture of the community for many years and our staff and campers have enjoyed wonderful experiences. During this challenging time many activities are being altered or cancelled and we regret that Greenacres Summer Camps is now among those activities that will not be held this year.

Greenacres looks forward to returning to normal activities as soon as possible and we are already working on great new camp ideas for 2021.

Until we can safely return to normal operations, “The Place to Be” will be on social media and our website. We encourage you to keep up with happenings around the farm this summer.

Stay Healthy!


17 May 2020
Indian Grass


Indian Grass


The first year of our research collaboration with University of Tennessee (UT) brought about a series of learning opportunities in regards to large scale field-research (as mentioned here).  Those lessons learned will be carried over to year two (2020) as we repeat the study, hopefully providing better outcomes than we had in 2019.

In 2020 one of the primary objectives based on our 2019 results is to get an earlier start.  In 2019, planting was delayed 2 months (July 2nd vs May 2nd) due to the wetter than “normal” spring.  This meant that the native grass seedlings had to compete with not only the nurse crop treatments but also the vigorous summer annuals that were present in the seedbank (e.g. Panic grass, Ragweed and Marestail).  Getting the grasses planted earlier means getting the nurse crop treatments planted earlier – giving them both a slight jumpstart, and thus a competitive advantage, on the inevitable weed pressure that warmer weather brings with it.

The second objective – which we learned the hard way in 2019 – is to increase the amount of cattle impact necessary to manage the nurse crop canopy.  We learned once the canopy gets ahead of us we can forget about any attempt at a successful native warm season grass stand.  In 2020 we are doubling the herd size that we will be using to manage the study.  This will allow for greater impact and more frequent moves, theoretically leading to a more open canopy.  Effectively we are walking a tight line between a nurse crop that limits weed germination and still allows for native grass seedlings to thrive.

This will be the final year for the field portion of the UT collaboration.  The final results from the 2019 and 2020 study will be used for publication in scientific journals that focus on prairie ecology and/or agricultural production systems.

–Chad B.