New Chicken Tractors
As we continue to expand our meat bird operations, lots of time was spent researching infrastructure options that optimize production and efficiencies while still meeting our animal welfare standards. Our livestock manager, Leevi Stump worked with the Stoltzfoos brothers at The Mobile Chicken House to purchase our new chicken tractors for our pastured poultry production. He tells us, “The new tractors fit our production system well. They house approximately 50 more birds per tractor while maintaining the same space-ratio per chicken. This allows us to raise an addition 1,000 birds per year. The tractors have a greenhouse design which provides better heat and shade options, and with roll up curtains on the side, they allow for proper ventilation to ensure birds are happy and healthy.” The wheels of the new tractor facilitate movement across pastures and minimize wear and tear on our equipment. It’s been a great learning opportunity for students coming through Greenacres programs. And, it’s been a great experience for our livestock apprentices, David, Josi, and Gabe as they’ve done a wonderful job assembling the new tractors at our Indian Hill property.
“The new tractors fit our production system well. They house approximately 50 more birds per tractor while maintaining the same space-ratio per chicken. This allows us to raise an addition 1,000 birds per year. The tractors have a greenhouse design which provides better heat and shade options, and with roll up curtains on the side, they allow for proper ventilation to ensure birds are happy and healthy.”
-Leevi Stump, Livestock Manager
Our Michaela Farm gardens are buzzing with life. The majority of our vegetable production at this property is in the garden we established last year near St Mary’s Road. Throughout the Spring, our garden crew has been harvesting lots of greens – lettuce, spinach, arugula, radishes, garlic scapes, and more. They’ve also been tending to summer crops and herbs, including sugar snap and shelling peas, garlic, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, beets, green beans, zucchini, and more of your Summer favorites! Recently more asparagus, strawberries, and rhubarb were planted, along with flowers to help attract pollinators and beneficial insects. If you are in Oldenburg, Indiana, make sure to stop by the Michaela Farmstore and pick up some eggs, fresh produce, and dried herbs.
It’s common knowledge that our native pollinator populations are in decline – habitat loss, the use of lawn and agricultural chemicals, invasive species, and the planting of non-native landscaping plants have all taken a toll. One way you can help pollinators in your yard is by planting native and beneficial perennials. Unlike annual flowers that need to be replaced every year, perennials can provide food and shelter to native pollinators and wildlife for many years, and usually need very little maintenance once established – some species are extremely drought tolerant, while others can thrive in areas of your yard that tend to retain water.
During our annual Spring plant sale, we were excited to offer perennial plants the first time, including bee balm, butterfly weed, mountain mint, hyssop, foxglove beardtongue, coreopsis, and more which were all propagated in our greenhouse. Many of these species can be found in the landscaping in front of the Indian Hill Farmstore, where you can see how they grow and interact with wildlife over time. Some insects may use our plants as food sources, which can also impact their aesthetic appearance – but that’s fine with us!
Fall is the ideal season to plant perennials in our region, when small plants have plenty of time to focus on robust root establishment before the next summer drought. We plan to offer another perennial plant sale this fall, so be sure to keep that in mind when making your landscaping plans.
Our events team has been staying very active this Spring. Wedding season is in full swing and we have already hosted three with ten more scheduled throughout the year, but ceremonies and receptions aren’t the only events on our radar. “We are working on expanding our event offerings and have been hosting an increasing number of adult-education workshops.” says Kyle Conlon, Greenacres Director of Events. “It has been a pleasure hosting these informational and interactive events and we are looking forward to providing more valuable experiences to our community members.”
In April, Dave Pratt, with Ranch Management Consultants, was invited to workshop with the local community and discuss how to maximize ranching profits while increasing efficiency and sustainability. Then, in early May, the Ohio State’s Butler County extension office partnered with Greenacres to present about spring calving in the Southwest Ohio region. Fifty guests were in attendance to learn about cow nutrition during pregnancy, facility preparations for calving, the impacts of management practices, dealing with calving issues, and what to look for during a pasture walk.
We wrapped up our Spring events calendar with our participation at the International Grasslands Congress. Hundreds of scientists and industry experts from around the world converged at the conference in Covington, Kentucky. Attendees had the opportunity to tour Greenacres which involved touring our Indian Hill and Lewis Township locations, and presentations about the work we are doing throughout. Topics varied from pasture-raised chicken production, to Native Warm Season Grass establishment and prescribed burns.
“We are working on expanding our event offerings and have been hosting an increasing number of adult-education workshops. It has been a pleasure hosting these informational and interactive events and we are looking forward to providing more valuable experiences to our community members.”
-Director of Events
Expanding our Education Reach
We are thrilled to be hosting more field trips and teacher professional development events as demand continues to return post Covid. In addition to the wide range of field trips we facilitated this Spring, our education team hosted two professional development days for Cincinnati Public Schools employees. The individuals who attended got to meet Greenacres staff, learn more about our field trips and see how we can help with various state standards.
In Lewis Township, Brown County middle school students were invited to the “Human Library” at our education facility. The 8th grade students were able to meet and talk to professionals from various industries and backgrounds. These students got a much better understanding of what it can take to enter specific industries.
At Michaela Farm in Indiana, Oldenburg Academy culinary arts students have been getting a hands-on “farm to table” experience. The students learned about gardening seasonality and how to maximize flavor and nutritional value. The class even got to prep and plant their own garden bed. The vegetables grown in this plot will be harvested by the students and used in the class’s kitchen.
If you are an educator interested in field trips, please contact our Education Coordinator Katie Brown. Our Education Team creates exceptional field trip experiences for each and every visitor we serve. We collaborate with classroom educators to build customized, hands-on interactive experiences aligned with grade-level academic learning standards. You can use our field trip programming tool to browse popular topics by grade and by academic subject.
Equine First Responders Training
The equine department has been busy with a full Spring Session. Our advanced students have been enjoying the cross country course when the weather permits. We enroll riders between the ages of 8-18. Our lessons are English only with a focus in Eventing. Due to extremely high-demand our waitlist is currently closed while we move riders off the list.
The equine department partnered with the Goshen and Indian Hill/ Madeira 1st Responders to offer hands-on training with the horses. The 1st Responders got to tour the Greenacres Equine Center and work hands on learning how to lead and work with horses. Our staff provides information and exercises that will help prepare 1st Responders for responding to calls where horses are involved. Goshen and Indian Hill/ Madeira were the pilot groups. We will be scheduling additional dates throughout 2023 for other departments to participate.
Ecological Research Grants
Through our extended research grant program, we have had the opportunity to collaborate with academic researchers on various ecological projects. Last year, three universities were awarded grant money: Northern Kentucky University, Miami University and the University of Dayton. This year, all three projects are coming together. Northern Kentucky is studying spring ephemeral (wildflower) restoration to understand what source material (seeds, bare root or plugs) result in the most success along with how soil and light conditions influence the growth of these species. Our woods in Indian Hill are one of the study sites. Miami University researchers are also on site, looking at the impact of deer and invasive species on woodland restoration. This Spring, as part of the study and with the help of our estate crew, two deer exclosures were constructed on our property. And the University of Dayton is working with Five Rivers MetroParks to understand how to best restore former agricultural fields back to woodlands. They are looking at different ways to improve soil health to support the growth of trees, in particular oaks. All of these projects are 2-3 years in length and the results of each will help inform land managers of the best management practices for their woodland restoration projects.