Category: Learn

21 Jun 2022
tall grass with wooden and wire fencing

Why We Mow Less

tall green grass with wire fence and trees in background

Why We Mow Less

Tall Grass is Good Stewardship

Around Greenacres, you may notice some of our grasses are not mowed frequently, and can grow quite tall.  While freshly cut lawns can look nice, mowing isn’t beneficial for the environment. Gas-powered mowers put emissions into the atmosphere, contributing to air pollution. Mowers also cut down native wildflowers, reducing the nectar available to pollinators. Mowers are also heavy machines that compact the soil. By mowing less, we practice good stewardship by supporting our ecosystems and native plants.

Rather than over-using fuel-powered mowers, we can also let our cattle, sheep, and horses graze and maintain our landscaping naturally. Greenacres livestock manager, Leevi Stump, informs us, “It is an extensive process managing all of the sections of property we graze. The livestock are our ‘mowers’ and their impact is great as their hooves return any decaying material to the Earth where insects and soil microbes can utilize it. Grass’ main purpose is to reproduce, and as it matures and seeds out, it loses its nutritional value. Grazing encourages regrowth and root development and lengthens the time the plant is in a vegetative state, allowing the grasses to capture as much solar energy as possible leading to improved soil and animal health.”.

tall grass with wooden and wire fencing

“It is an extensive process managing all of the sections of property we graze. The livestock are our ‘mowers’ and their impact is great as their hooves return any decaying material to the Earth where insects and soil microbes can utilize it. Grass’ main purpose is to reproduce, and as it matures and seeds out, it loses its nutritional value. Grazing encourages regrowth and root development and lengthens the time the plant is in a vegetative state, allowing the grasses to capture as much solar energy as possible leading to improved soil and animal health.”

Leevi Stump, Livestock Manager

Our local pollinator and bird populations benefit when we mow less, by preserving their food sources and habitats. These animals and insects are essential components of our ecosystems and in our garden production. Native birds and some native insects use organic materials like grasses to build their homes. So, the less we mow, the better it is for our pollinator and bird communities.

Mowing can also have a harsh effect on the ground below. Heavy machinery continually compacts the soil, making it difficult for healthy root growth. When we allow the land to rest by mowing less often, roots are able to grow deeper into the soil. With longer and stronger roots, water can penetrate deeper into the root zone, making the plants less susceptible to heat stress and more drought resistant. 

You can mow less, too!

Even if you don’t have livestock on your property, you can mow less often and still see environmental benefits! Try setting aside a portion of what you typically mow, and let it grow tall, mowing about once a year. Take note of any new flora or fauna you observe throughout the seasons! You can even sow seeds of native plants to increase the biodiversity of your plot. You’ll spend less time mowing, while also lowering your carbon footprint.

If you have any questions about our land management practices, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

01 Apr 2022

Smoke on the Horizon

Smoke on the Horizon

Not Always a Sign of Trouble

Greenacres, The Village of Indian Hill and Madeira & Indian Hill Joint Fire District recently teamed up to do a series of controlled burns around the Village in an effort to promote new growth, reduce invasive plants and clear old plant debris. The locations selected for these burns were Grand Valley Preserve, Radio Range Park and a green area near the intersection of Shawnee Run Road and State Route 126. All three locations had been planted with native grasses or wildflowers, but the establishment rate had not been successful.

Village officials had noticed less and less species diversity over the last few years and were looking for a solution when they reached out to Greenacres for assistance. After reviewing the data, the Greenacres team prescribed a series of controlled burns. They felt this was the most natural approach and helped avoid the use of powerful herbicides or heavy tilling.

“The Village was thrilled to learn that the Greenacres Team was certified in controlled burns and interested in partnering with the Village to improve the native grasses and wildflowers. The Village is fortunate to have the Greenacres Foundation located within our community and the partnership that has been created to improve the natural environment.”  said.

-Jon West, Village of Indian Hill Assistant City Manager

“These native plant communities evolved in the presence of natural fires” says Daniel Wilds, Greenacres Interim General Manager of Greenacres Michaela Farm. “By utilizing burns, we can help manage land in a way that promotes growth and maintains a rich balance of native species. Not only do we remove dead material, creating space and light for new growth, we’re also building natural fertilizer by breaking down biomass so that it can be reabsorbed into the soil. It’s a very powerful management practice for farmers and land managers and can benefit an entire ecosystem when implemented properly. We can greatly improve soil health, plant and animal communities, and even weather patterns.” continued Wilds.

“By utilizing burns, we can help manage land in a way that promotes growth and maintains a rich balance of native species.

-Daniel Wilds, Interim General Manager of Greenacres Michaela Farm

After carefully planning the procedure and waiting for the necessary weather conditions, Wilds, who has a national certification to conduct these type of burns, and other members of Greenacres, put the plan into motion under the careful supervision of the firefighters from the Madeira & Indian Hill Joint Fire District. Three separate burns were conducted over the course of three days.

“The controlled burns were carefully planned, coordinated with the right personnel and executed without incident. This was a new experience for our personnel and we enjoyed working with our partners from Greenacres.

-Chief Stephen Oughterson, Madeira & Indian Hill Joint Fire District

All three burns went according to plan and Greenacres and the Village will be monitoring the sites over the coming years to gauge their effectiveness on the intended outcome. The hope is this old school method finds new life as organizations look for alternatives to the harsher land management practices employed in years past.

02 Sep 2021

Raising Turkeys at Greenacres

Raising Turkeys at Greenacres

Commercially produced turkeys are usually raised in huge indoor warehouses, a completely different life than turkeys raised at Greenacres. From August to November, our livestock crew cares for hundreds of turkeys that arrive as day-old poults. They spend their first few weeks in a brooder, a heated housing unit, until they’re old enough to regulate their own body temperature and live outside.

Turkeys Belong Outside

After 4-5 weeks, the young turkeys are big enough to move outdoors, but still too small to leave unprotected. They spend the next 3 weeks on pasture while housed in our poultry tractors, protected from predators while being moved to fresh grass daily. Their nitrogen- rich manure is a key component in building our soil fertility.

Once they are large enough to no longer be attractive to a hawk or owl, they are released from the tractors to large fenced paddocks where they are frequently rotated through the pasture. We keep our bulls nearby to discourage coyotes. Turkeys instinctively roost up off the ground to protect themselves from predators, so we provide roosting houses that were custom designed by our livestock manager and fabricated by our estate crew.

A Healthy Lifestyle

What do our turkeys eat? Birds are omnivores, needing a variety of plant and animal foods to stay healthy. In addition to the insects, grasses, clover, etc. they forage, we also provide a locally produced, non-GMO turkey feed. This well-rounded diet, in addition to all the exercise they get from roaming the pasture, results in a much more delicious turkey.

All livestock handling and housing arrangements on our farm meet or exceed Certified Humane guidelines. Our turkeys are carefully loaded into our trailer before Thanksgiving and driven by our staff to our poultry butcher; a small, family owned, USDA inspected facility only 80 miles from our farm. Here they are humanely processed and packaged for your Thanksgiving dinner.

The Greenacres Difference

So what’s the difference? Why go through all this trouble to raise our turkeys? Because all these choices make a difference. Our efforts result in healthier birds who live happier lives, healthier conditions for our staff, healthier soils, and a healthier, more delicious turkey to grace your holiday table. A note about feathers… The turkey you typically buy at the grocery store has been bred to have white feathers, a genetic trait selected so feathers aren’t as visible, at the expense of overall turkey health and flavor. Our turkeys have bronze feathers, which may occasionally be visible on the turkey you bring home – simply remove before cooking.

08 Mar 2021

The Spotted Lanternfly

The Spotted Lanternfly

(Updated November 2022)

The spotted lanternfly has become more firmly established in Ohio, with established populations in Cuyahoga, Lorain and Jefferson counties.  Last month, this insect was positively identified in Hamilton County (near the Mill Creek) and its arrival may have been via the rail system. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) asks that individuals keep watch for the spotted lanternfly and if detected take the following steps:

  1. Eggs- scrape them off the tree or other surface, double bag them and throw them away. Alcohol or hand sanitizer can also be used to kill them. Report all destroyed egg masses.
  2. Specimens- Collect and report specimens to the ODA. Specimens can be placed in a plastic bag and frozen.

The following link allows you to report a suspected spotted lanternfly in Ohio by completing the form or scanning a QR code. There is a “general information tab” and a “report suspected” tab.

https://agri.ohio.gov/divisions/plant-health/invasive-pests/slf

U.S. Department of Agriculture - Lance Cheung/Multimedia PhotoJournalist/USDA Photo by Lance Cheung, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

(This post was originally written in March 2021)

Traveling this summer?  Beware of unwanted hitchhikers.  The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) has officially entered Ohio with a confirmed population in Jefferson County. This insect was first reported in Pennsylvania in 2014 and now resides in several eastern states.  Lanternflies are poor fliers but can hitchhike.  Large egg masses are formed and these masses are laid on trees, wood or rusty metal (e.g. old train cars). It is these egg masses that are often moved by human assisted spread.

The spotted lanternfly can congregate in large numbers and preferred hosts are Tree of Heaven and grapes but spotted lanternflies have been documented on a variety of species. These phloem feeders concern fruit producers as their large numbers can cause a nuisance.  They squirt honeydew from their abdomen (which can rain down on people) and this substance promotes the growth of black sooty mold.

If you are traveling east, do not pack up the lanterfly when you return home.  Check yourself and your belongings for any tag-alongs.  Adults are the easiest to spot and are most abundant late summer through fall.

The spotted lanternfly can congregate in large numbers.
The lanternfly with its wings open.