Category: News

24 Oct 2022
turkeys in a green pasture with fall foliage in background

Fall 2022 Update

turkeys in a green pasture with fall foliage in background

Fall 2022 Update

Raising Better Turkeys

Our livestock team is always looking for ways to improve the quality of life for the animals we raise at Greenacres. Whether it’s shade structures for our cattle or improved chicken tractors for our broilers, no detail large or small is overlooked in the process. Although turkeys are only on our farm for a short period of time, we treat them with the same care and respect that we give to all of our animals. Every year after Thanksgiving, our team sits down and reviews what we can do to improve our ability to raise turkeys. “Our turkeys have always had access to clean water, fresh pastures, and the safety of our poultry tractors, but we were overlooking their natural instinct to want to roost,” says our Livestock Manager, Leevi Stump. Two years ago, we looked at our options and decided we could come up with a solution to this challenge using resources we had on the farm. The livestock team partnered with some of the master welders on our estate crew and designed a custom roosting system. This was the second year using these roosts and they have signficantly improved the quality of life for our turkeys. 

During their first weeks at Greenacres, our turkeys have access to pasture, but are confined to the poultry tractors for their safety. Our livestock team moves the tractors daily to ensure the turkeys always have access to fresh pasture. Once the turkeys are large enough, the poultry tractors doors are opened and the turkeys are given access to fresh open pasture along with the roosting facilities. “These roosting structures have gone a long way in making our turkeys more comfortable” says Stump, “it’s helping protect them from ground predators and lets them exercise that natural instinct to be in trees.” These structures have improved our final turkey harvest weights and we are optimistic that they will continue to have a positive impact.

turkeys on green pasture with three turkeys on wooden and sheet-metal roosting structure

Our turkeys have always had access to clean water, fresh pastures, and the safety of our poultry tractors, but we were overlooking their natural instinct to want to roost. These new roosting structures are going a long way to making our turkeys more comfortable. It’s helping protect them from ground predators and lets them exercise that natural instinct to be in trees.”

-Leevi Stump, Livestock Manager

Education Center Coming Soon to Michaela Farm

A new education facility is coming soon to Greenacres Michaela Farms in Oldenburg, Indiana. The building is scheduled for completion in 2023. Our Director of Buildings and Grounds, Alex Saurber, tells us, “this new facility will be a replica of our Lewis Township education building with a few upgrades including a 70,000 gallon cistern and a gray-water system. Just like our Lewis Township classroom, this new building will be equipped with an abundance of green features including geothermal heating and cooling as well as automated solar tubes. We look forward to breaking ground soon!“.

Until then, any school or homeschool group is welcome to register their interest in field trip programs. Parents, teachers, and school administrators are encouraged to reach out to bring your students here for a field trip .All programming is customized to your specific needs. To learn more, contact Katie Brown at kbrown@green-acres.org or call (513) 898-3262.

Rendering of an white, green, and stone education building

This new facility will be a replica of our Lewis Township education building with a few upgrades including a 70,000 gallon cistern and a gray-water system. Just like our Lewis Township classroom, this new building will be equipped with an abundance of green features including geothermal heating and cooling as well as automated solar tubes. We look forward to breaking ground soon!

-Alex Saurber, Buildings and Grounds Director

Native Grasslands

Preserving the integrity of farmland is a key part of Greenacres’ mission. One way this is achieved is by strategically using livestock to manage our pastures. For example, the cattle are put into smaller sections in the pastures and moved frequently. This allows for a more even distribution of the manure and reduces over grazing. To ensure our practices are in line with our mission, the Research Team routinely monitors the pastures for key ecological indicators (i.e. plant and soil health, bare ground, insects and other invertebrates, and water infiltration). Monitoring takes place annually using a scorecard and a quick walkthrough, and every five years a more intensive protocol is used to measure long term changes. Combined, these parameters provide insight into pasture health. The information is then presented to the livestock team to guide future management of the land and animals.

“Monitoring our pastures is a crucial part of land management. The data collected show how past management has affected pasture health, but also allows the livestock team to adapt their strategies to continuously generate healthy soils and ecosystems,” says Senior Research Assistant and Pasture Monitoring Coordinator Chad Gibson

three research employees in pasture, collecting samples

“Monitoring our pastures is a crucial part of land management. The data collected show how past management has affected pasture health, but also allows the livestock team to adapt their strategies to continuously generate healthy soils and ecosystems.”

-Chad Gibson, Senior Research Assistant and Pasture Monitoring Coordinator

Celebration Concert

In September, our events team hosted the annual Celebration Concert. The Celebration Concert started as a way to celebrate Mrs. Louise Nippert’s birthday, and is the one time a year that the Cincinnati Ballet, Orchestra, May Festival, and Opera all perform together. Over the years, the event has grown and this magical performance night is a beautiful way to remember Mrs. Nippert and her legacy. The two mornings preceding the event, school groups, including students from the Saint Rita School for the Deaf, were invited to Greenacres to experience the performing arts first hand. “Looking around the room, there were so many smiling faces, beaming with joy! It’s so nice to know that Mrs. Nippert’s love of children and the performing arts lives on, especially through experiences like these.”

grand tent with music concert inside during twilight hour

Looking around the room, there were so many smiling faces, beaming with joy! It’s so nice to know that Mrs. Nippert’s love of children and the performing arts lives on, especially through experiences like these.” 

-Meredith Leslie, Executive Director

A Taste of Summer

For the last three seasons, our Garden team has planted a plot of paste tomatoes in our Ley Field, which provide an amazing visual asset for our agriculture education programs and summer camp participants. When the tomatoes are finished growing they become the primary ingredient for marinara sauce. The marinara sauce has a very simple ingredient list, and preserves fresh, peak-season tomato flavor. The practices we follow in the Ley Field ensure healthy soil, healthy plants and top-quality tomatoes – click here to learn more about our Ley Field.

Shortly after harvest, we clean and freeze the tomatoes at their peak of ripeness, storing them frozen at -15º until we have gathered the full harvest for the season. We also clean and freeze our own garlic and onions, allowing us to utilize root vegetables that may not be perfect for Farm Store sales, but will make a delicious sauce.

Once all our ingredients are gathered, we transport them to KHI Food Brands in Burlington, KY. KHI is a “value-added food producer” who started their small business in order to help local farmers capture their harvests into shelf-stable retail products. They use our recipe to cook the sauce in their 500 gallon kettle, then hot-fill the jars on their automated packing line. Our in-house designed labels are the finishing touch.

We’re proud to be able to offer you this delicious reminder of summer, all year long.

Fall Equine Lessons

Our equine department has completed another busy Fall Session. Our students have enjoyed utilizing the new cross country jumps and new show jump course throughout the session. We enroll riders between the ages of 8-18. Our lessons are English only with a focus in Eventing. We still have an active waitlist, so if you are interested in enrolling your children in the lesson program we invite you to join our waitlist.

Four young riders on horseback looking out onto jump field

School Horse Spotlight

Pictured here are Moose (left) and Dozer (right), two of our lesson horses.

Moose is a 13-year-old bay Quarter Horse who is very playful and loves to play with his Jolly Ball in his stall. He primarily teaches the walk/trot students, but will sometimes teach the intro to canter students. His favorite part of the day is being groomed by all of the students. His friend Dozer is a 19-year-old gray Percheron Cross. He is our gentle giant as he is the biggest in the barn standing at 16.3 hands. He is learning to enjoy jumping, but primarily teaches the lower level walk/trot- walk/trot/canter classes. Dozer loves being fed treats from the equine staff and students. His favorite treats are apples and carrots. 

03 Oct 2022
greenacres employees planting in gardens

Metabolomics Research Project

greenacres employees planting in gardens

Researchers exploring the impact of regenerative farming systems on food quality and human health

As new data has come out suggesting that plant-based meat substitutes are worse for gut-health, our research team has been busy conducting ground-breaking nutritional research with Utah State University in the hopes of better understanding the connections between farming practices, diet, and human health. The team is specifically focusing on an area of nutrition known as food metabolomics, which is the study of metabolites.

Metabolites are endogenous compounds such as amino acids, lipids, sugars, organic acids, etc., found within an organism. These compounds can transfer from soil to plants and also to the animals that eat these plants. Until now, there has been limited research into what then transfers to the human consumers of these various products. With this research we are hoping to gain new insight into the quantities of metabolites that are able to transfer during each phase, and the effect different farming practices have on this amount. It will provide evidence as to how agro-ecological farming practices directly affect human health.

Our researchers are collaborating with Utah State’s Dr. Stephan Van Vliet who has done previous research on metabolites. His early work has indicated that agro-ecological farming practices do increase health-promoting phytochemicals in meat. Now, we want to know if these phytochemicals transfer to humans through meat, produce, and dairy and if they help promote overall health.

researchers collecting soil samples in gardens

“Regenerative farming has potential benefits for soil health and biodiversity above and below ground. Despite promising environmental benefits, it is currently not known if producing food regeneratively also has a benefit for consumers. We hope to find how regenerative vs. conventional farming systems impact the nutrient density of food and biomarkers of human health. This work uses a novel metabolomics analysis to look at 500 compounds in foods and their potential transfer to human metabolism; an approach best described as being from farm to table to us.”

Dr. Stephan Van Vliet, Utah State University

During this two-year study, a registered dietitian has come up with a 7-week meal plan for the participants. These participants are moderately healthy adults between the ages of 30-60. For nearly two months, participants are fed foods produced using regenerative farming methods, including meat, eggs, and produce grown at Greenacres that the team ships out weekly. The participants are then fed the same 7-week meal plan, but with ingredients that come from conventional farming practices. During both phases of the diet, markers of  inflammation, oxidative stress, gut microbial diversity, and circulating metabolomes are monitored and compared.

“Despite potential major ecological benefits, we lack critical knowledge regarding the benefits of food consumed from regenerative farming systems to human health. To address this question, Greenacres Foundation is partnering with Dr. Stephan Van Vliet and Utah State University to investigate the impact that agricultural production practices have on crop and animal nutrients and ultimately the health of humans.” 

Jennifer Mansfield, Greenacres Research Specialist

chicken in mobile coop

We are also providing the Utah State team with soil, forage, and fecal samples to better understand how the nutrients transfer from soil to forage to animal to human.

For questions about this research please send inquiries to mail@green-acres.org

08 Sep 2022
two researchers collecting soil samples

Regenerative Agriculture Grants

two researchers collecting soil samples

Agriculture Research Grants Available

Supporting Regenerative Farming

A Cincinnati based non-profit, Greenacres Foundation, is awarding up to $400,000 in grants for research focused on Regenerative Agriculture. Regenerative practices can lead to positive outcomes for soil, land, water, climate, and farmer welfare. With climate change and food security dominating headlines, the interest in regenerative practices is growing. Greenacres hopes to facilitate more research to support this burgeoning industry.

two researchers collecting soil samples

“Regenerative agriculture is gaining traction as a solution to nourishing a growing population while having a positive impact on our climate and water.  Currently, the traction is outpacing the science, often due to the lack of funding.  To drive the adoption of regenerative practices in agriculture, we need to continue to fill knowledge gaps through research.  I am thrilled to work for an organization that has committed to funding research in this area which in turn will provide insights into the benefits of regenerative farming practices.”

Chad Bitler, Greenacres Research Director

Greenacres would like proposals that seek specific outcomes of regenerative practices, including:

    • Advancing the understanding of ecosystem processes occurring in regenerative systems.
    • Improving soil health using agro-ecological principles
    • Improving resilience of agricultural lands.
    • Understanding perennial/pasture-based food production systems.
    • Integrating livestock into cropping systems.
    • Understanding the impact of production practices on the nutrient density of food

    Qualified organizations have through September 30th to submit their proposals to be considered for this year’s grant cycle. For more information please visit, www.green-acres.org/research/agriculture-research-grant/ or email research@green-acres.org

    25 Aug 2022

    Summer 2022 Update

    Summer 2022

    An Evening of Hope for Ukraine

    In late July, Greenacres hosted An Evening of Hope for Ukraine. Thank you to our guests, sponsors, donors, and volunteers for making it such a memorable and impactful evening! With everyone’s generous support, Greenacres was able to exceed our fundraising goal of $250,000, raising close to $300,000. All funds raised for the event were donated to Matthew 25 Ministries for their immediate and organized humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine. To learn more and support Matthew 25 Ministries’ efforts to provide relief to the people of Ukraine, please visit their website.

    What is Ley Farming?

    Healthy produce starts with healthy soil. As vegetables grow, nutrients are transferred from the ground and absorbed into the plant. With each harvest, we are removing those nutrients in the form of vegetables, and the soil becomes less nutrient-dense. Without a way to replace these nutrients, the ground would eventually be depleted of all of its life supporting properties. So how does Greenacres add nutrients back into the soil for the next harvest without relying on man-made chemical inputs like fertilizers? Enter Ley farming; an ancient solution that allows us to generate all the fertility we need!

    Before chemical inputs such as fertilizer or pesticide were available, farmers focused on building soil using slow, holistic methods. One of these methods was something called Ley farming, which is a pre-industrial agricultural practice in which a field is rested and grazed by animals for a period of time with the intention of building fertility through roots and animal impact. In this system fields were put into grasses and grazed with livestock. This process was meant to closely resemble the way soil was built in the plains and was sometimes used as a primary fertility system before industrialization. Unfortunately, Ley farming fell out of practice once synthetic fertilizers became widely available, leading to the expansion of monocrop commodity agriculture we commonly see today.

    Today in our Ley Field, Greenacres is taking these pre-industrial practices and adding modern farming principles. Our 4-acre plot is divided into four quadrants. Two of the plots are dedicated to growing consumables, and the other two are grazing crops for livestock. Every year, one quadrant is rotated from vegetable production to grazing pasture and one vegetable quadrant is moved back into grazing. Our Garden Manager, Ian Zeglin, informs us, “we use our own compost and woodchips for weed-suppression, but no outside inputs are used in our Ley field. No fertilizer of any kind has ever been used in that field. Through cover crops and animal impact we have been able to use nature-based systems to build soil fertility for our intensive vegetable production.”. Much of our Farm Store produce comes from our Ley Field – including flowers, melons, cabbage, and more!

    farmers planting young pepper crops in Ley field

    “We use our own compost and woodchips for weed-suppression, but no outside inputs are used in our Ley field. No fertilizer of any kind has ever been used in that field. Through cover crops and animal impact we have been able to use nature-based systems to build soil fertility for our intensive vegetable production.

    -Ian Zeglin, Garden Manager

    Michaela Farm

    The staff at Michaela Farm has been hard at work expanding production and getting new gardens set up. On the St. Mary’s side of the farm, a new 8-foot tall deer fence was installed. With the completion of this new deer fence, the Garden team was able to get some of our fall and winter produce planted, as well as some cover crops to keep our soil healthy. Plans for a new educational facility are coming together and we are eager to break ground soon!

    Summer in the Greenacres Michaela Farm Store means there is an abundance of herbs, pickling cucumbers, green cabbage, sweet onions, leeks, and potatoes. If you find yourself in Oldenburg, IN, make sure to stop by and pick up some fresh veggies!

    two farmers walking through field with garden on their left

    Exploring with Grace

    In addition to our summer camp participants, Greenacres welcomed more than 200 children from local recreation centers, libraries, and other nonprofits who serve under-resourced areas to our education sites. These visits were made possible through The Exploring with Grace Fund which honors the memory of Grace Lewis. Grace loved the outdoors, animals and the wood and farm lands of Greenacres. This fund helps share her passion with other children. Through an environmental, agricultural and artistic lens, these guests were empowered individually while learning to be stewards of the environment.

    Chaperones who attended the programs with their groups were thrilled with the opportunity. After experiencing Greenacres, one group coordinator said the group was, “extremely impressed with everything about the field trip! From the very welcoming greetings and send offs, to the ease at which the staff interacted with the children; the group management techniques, subject matter and activities. It was AWESOME!”. If you know an eligible group who may be interested, please contact Katie Brown at kbrown@green-acres.org or 513-898-3262.

    instructors lead group of children through pasture

    “I try hard to schedule summer activities that involve nature, animals, and opportunities to learn how to support and learn about
    the Earth. I was extremely impressed with everything about the field trip! From the very welcoming greetings and send offs, to the ease at which the staff interacted with the children; the group management techniques, subject matter and activities. It was AWESOME!

    -Salvation Army Learning Center representative

    Summer Farm Tour

    Our Farm Tour on July 9th was a huge success! Greenacres CSA members and volunteers learned about our farming methods and got a chance to observe them up close. We welcomed 80+ guests, who were very impressed with the program. They got to learn first hand about our compost facility, Ley field farming techniques, our research work, and our livestock practices. The feedback received was very complimentary and everyone in attendance would like to attend similar events in the future to learn more about Greenacres. We look forward to organizing more events like our Farm Tour soon. 

    adult visitors standing outside near garden, talking to farmer

    Music in the Meadow

    On August 4th, we hosted Music in the Meadow at Greenacres Lewis Township.  John Morris Russell led the Cincinnati Pops in a long awaited return to Brown County, entertaining our guests through A Night at The Movies including scores from Harry Potter and E.T.  The performance was great! Added to the Pops music was the background of birds and bugs as the flora and fauna of Greenacres Lewis Township chimed in. There are few places where you can have an experience like that!

    Thank you to all who participated in preparing the site and the event. It was a great success and as one attendee said – “ I cannot believe that the real CSO is playing in Brown County – amazing – thank you!”.

    John Morris Russel talking to concert audience

    “I cannot believe that the real CSO is playing in Brown County – amazing – thank you!

    -Concert Attendee, at Music in the Meadow

    Metabolomics

    Throughout the summer, our research team has been sending weekly shipments of our produce and meats to our research partners at Utah State University. We are both funding and participating in an exciting metabolomics research project, led by Dr. Van Vliet, in which we hope to better understand the connection between farming practices, diet, and human health. Metabolomics are the scientific study of metabolites, which are endogenous compounds such as amino acids, lipids, sugars, organic acids, etc., within an organism.

    Dr. Van Vliet is dedicated to studying how agro-ecological farming practices, like those used at Greenacres, affect nutrition and human health. His previous work has indicated that agro-ecological farming practices do increase health-promoting phytochemicals in meat. Now we want to know if these phytochemicals transfer to humans and help promote overall health.

    In this two-year study, participants who are moderately healthy adults between the ages of 30-60, are fed an agro-ecological diet, including Greenacres produce and meats, for 6 weeks. This is then compared to those same participant’s 6-week conventional diet, monitoring for markers on inflammation, oxidative stress, gut microbial diversity and circulating metabolomes. Greenacres is also providing Dr. Van Vliet with soil, forage, and animal fecal samples to better understand how the nutrients transfer from soil to forage to meat to human. Greenacres is delighted to continue our long-term partnership with Dr. Van Vliet and Utah State University as we eagerly await the study’s preliminary data.

    two researchers collecting soil samples in gardens
    Greenacres Research team collects soil samples from our Indian Hill gardens to send to Dr. van Vleet at the Utah State University, along with Greenacres produce and meat, for the metabolomics research project.