Summer 2022 Update
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!
“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
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-898-3262.
“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.
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!”.
“I cannot believe that the real CSO is playing in Brown County – amazing – thank you!”
-Concert Attendee, at Music in the Meadow
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.