Blog

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  • Our Farm Bill

    Spring Wind Farm in Northfield, Minn., hosted an LSP federal policy discussion this winter. (Click image to enlarge)

    Reimagining Farm Policy that Puts People, Communities & the Land First

    The energy has been incredible. Over the past two months the federal policy team at the Land Stewardship Project has been holding Farm Bill...

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  • A Farm Makes Changes to Benefit Soil, Profit & Quality of Life

    Three generations of Luhmans: Jon, his father David, and his son Jared. The cattle are grazing a rye cover crop before black beans are planted in the field. (Click image to enlarge)

    Dry Creek Farms has been farming certified organic crops since 2001 and presently consists of me and my wife Terri, along with our son Jared, who recently returned to the farm after attending college. We have registered Red Angus cattle and recently Jared has added Polled Herefords as well. The cattle are raised on an all-forage diet, and they are central to a system where we’re working...

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  • The Rural Reality & Factory Farms

    When you look at the bills being pushed at our State Capitol this year it appears many legislators think that what people living in rural and small town Minnesota want are more factory farms and less of a say in what happens in our community. Nothing is further from reality. But reality at the Capitol where corporate lobbyists line the halls is different from our reality in rural...

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  • Affordable Public Option Beats Bailing Out Insurers

    How to improve our health insurance system is an urgent matter for nearly everyone in Minnesota. It’s a top issue for farmers across Minnesota, and one of the most frequent concerns heard by clergy. For months, policymakers in St. Paul worked on details for how to provide immediate assistance to people who buy health insurance in Minnesota’s individual market. In the process, there...

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  • Change Comes from the Ground Up

    "Change comes from the ground up” means LSP must regularly engage in active listening and the kind of regular conversations that bring out our members' core values and the key issues they are concerned about. (Click image to enlarge)

    As the staff and member-leaders of the Land Stewardship Project conduct our organization’s work for stewardship and justice on the land, the central concept that keeps arising is “change comes from the ground up.” Whether the subject is farming practices, public policy or community vitality, thinking about positive change in this way is enormously helpful and a constant...

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  • Across Rural Minnesota, People are Saying NO to Factory Farms

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    NOTE: On Monday, Jan. 30, farmers and rural residents of Goodhue County’s Zumbrota Township gathered at the headquarters of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). They expressed their outrage that the MPCA prioritized rubber-stamping a proposed factory hog farm above protecting their...

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  • The Beauty Beneath Our Feet

    Everything from "prom dress" fabric to paint dribbled over rocks went into creating Foutch's "Soil Horizon" piece. (CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

    For an artist, it’s always nice to get a little public recognition—it helps make up for all those hours spent alone in the studio. So when Deborah Foutch’s piece, “Soil Horizon,” won a blue ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair in 2015, she was thrilled. But even more exciting was that the artwork—it uses various pieces of painted fabric to represent the...

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  • People Power Wins in Winona County

    NOTE: At the Land Stewardship Project's event celebrating the passage of the Winona County frac sand ban in southeastern Minnesota, LSP Winona County Organizing Committee members reflected on their involvement and the work that went into organizing the successful campaign for a ban. Committee...

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  • Commissioner Stine: Protect Family Farms & Get Environmental Review Right on Factory Hog Farm

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    My family and I operate a dairy farm in Goodhue County's Zumbrota Township in southeastern Minnesota. My father bought our farm in 1942, and I have lived on this land my whole life. My wife, my sister, my brother and I milk cows and raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa. We’re proud of the life we’ve built off the land, and we rely on the clean air and water in Zumbrota Township.

    ...

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  • Connecting with Farmers in SE MN at a Critical Time for our Soil

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    "Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel, our shelter, and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.”

    This quote was taken from the Vedas...

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  • Helping a Pasture Reach its True Potential

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    “What? Did you sell your cows?!?” This was the response from my neighbor, who had stopped by several years ago after seeing my pasture covered with 2.5-foot-tall grass. “I have never seen this pasture with grass longer than a golf green in nearly 30 years; you must have sold the cows!”

    This is a good description of where I started several years ago. I am the...

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  • CCC: Cover, Cattle, Clean Water

    A rain simulation shows how continuous living cover reduces surface runoff of water while increasing how much moisture infiltrates through the soil profile.

    Andy Marcum’s eye-opener was when he walked a ridge on his farm soon after snowmelt and noted the ground was speckled with the delicate, purple pedals of pasque flowers—more than he’d ever seen in his life. For Dan Jenniges, the aha moment came when he realized that he was grazing more cattle on fewer acres, and yet still had plenty of grass available at the end of the...

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  • MPCA: Listen to the People of Zumbrota Township

    Zumbrota Township residents present concerns to a packed MPCA meeting.

    On Monday, Dec. 12, I attended the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) public informational meeting at Zumbrota City Hall. Fellow Zumbrota Township neighbors packed the conference room to show that we have serious concerns about a factory hog farm threatening to move into our...

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  • Restoring Stewardship on a Worn-Out Farm

    Tom & Lisa Hoekstra

    After a lifetime of working for others in agricultural jobs, and retired after a career with the postal service, Tom Hoekstra and his wife, Lisa, bought a 150-acre farm outside of Plainview in southeastern Minnesota. Tom was 59 when they bought the farm in 2009. Right after their purchase, they immediately went to work re-building the soil and enhancing wildlife habitat. Tom and Lisa recently...

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  • Returning Home to Farm, Committed to a Conservation Tradition & Building Soil

    Connor McCormick shows off a cover crop stand on his family's farm this fall. (Click Image to Enlarge)

    After receiving my degree from St. Olaf College last spring, I have returned to the family farm outside Caledonia, Minn. I come home with a deeper understanding that soil rich in organic matter and biota can function more efficiently than biologically deprived soils.

    Having grown up on this small southeastern Minnesota beef and crop farm, I have experienced, and have heard from my dad...

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  • One Farmer's Journey: No-till, Cover Crops, Improved Soil Health & Yields

    Myron Sylling

    My journey into conservation started as a teenager in the mid-1980s— I was tired of picking rocks every year and filling ditches from erosion on a regular basis. We had changed to mulch-till by then to...

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  • Protecting the Water, Protecting the Land

    This spring, a marketing firm hired by WEC Energy Group stopped by our farm a number of times. They wanted us to sign an agreement allowing an Environmental Impact Statement to be done so that a natural gas pipeline could be laid through our front field. We worried that all the work that we had done improving that field would be for naught if it were disturbed for the project. We also feared...

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  • Soil Health Past, Present & Future on one SE MN Farm

    With the soil profile in the background, southeastern Minnesota farmer Curt Tvedt talks about soil health with Erin Walkenshaw of the Granary Project. (Click image to enlarge)

    NOTE: Southeastern Minnesota farmer and Land Stewardship Project member Curt Tvedt recently talked to LSP staffer Shona Snater about why he is excited about building soil health on his farm. Below is an excerpt of Tvedt’s thoughts:

    The soil scientists say there are more living species in a tablespoon of soil than there are people on the...

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  • Water Quality & Farming: Looking for the Long View

    Dan Jenniges with a cover crop mix he used to prepare a seedbed for pasture improvement. (click image to enlarge)

    The Star Tribune newspaper recently ran an in-depth series of articles about the environmental risks faced by our Minnesota waterways, focusing on the Upper Mississippi, the Red River and the Chippewa River. The last article in the series...

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  • Small Group Insurance Market May be an Option

    *This blog contains new information as of Nov. 1*

    The individual health insurance market, the place where many self-employed individuals purchase medical insurance is — candidly — a mess. Many Land Stewardship Project members are adversely affected by the current state of this market: premiums exploding, coverage choices dwindling, provider networks shrinking....

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  • Cover Crops: The Hardest Step is the 1st One

    Dean Richards (black sweatshirt) talked about why he grazes a field of rape/oats, a practice that saves him the cost of purchased feed, improves his herd health, adds fertility to this field, and gives his permanent pasture a rest.

    The telephone rang late one afternoon in early October. It was a call from a jubilant, if exhausted, dairy farmer who said he’d planted 20 acres of rye the previous night. He said he’d been attending Land Stewardship Project cover crop/soil health events and that despite the pitfalls of harvest, machinery and too much rain, he was determined to do something this year. “I just...

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  • A Leadership Transition at LSP

    I have been a member of the Land Stewardship Project since 2008, first joining through the Farm Beginnings program. Since then, and even before, as a grass-fed beef farmer, a professor of sustainable agriculture law issues, and now renting our farm fields to Farm Beginning’s graduates, I have observed and participated in...

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  • Carbon, Cattle & Conservation Grazing

    Integrating managed rotational grazing of livestock and conservation cropping systems makes farmland a net sink of greenhouse gases. Source: Journal of Soil & Water Conservation, 2016. CLICK IMAGE to ENLARGE

    Sometimes the rules of simple cause and effect don't directly apply. Take, for instance, the fact that cattle are ruminants, and like all ruminants they utilize a wonderfully complex digestive system to turn forages and grain into meat and milk. A major side effect of all that fermentation on four legs is the production of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

    So cattle are major...

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  • From Frac Sand Mines to Pipelines: LSP Members Stand Up Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

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    In Boone County, Iowa, fertile farmland stretches as far as the eye can see. But as our van of Land Stewardship Project members rounded the corner on a rural road, we saw a disturbing sight: miles of black, vacant land where the landscape has been shaved to make way for the ...

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  • BOOST Dinner Source York Farm has a 50-Year Plan

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    Andy Cotter and Irene Genelin bring an eclectic background to farming. He studied mechanical engineering in college and she was a French major. They met while competing as elite unicyclists and were national champions in the pairs competition (think ice dancing on one wheel), as well as individual world champions in various categories.

    They also share a passion for good food as well as...

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