Agroforestry Field Day!

I drove 3 hours this morning to attend Mizzou’s Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center 2014 Field Day. It included a great, informational tour of many of their projects. Here are some pictures from the tour:

This is an area where they are testing different walnut varieties. I couldn’t help but think of how much it looks like a park. Imagine parks that gave you food! It would just take someone willing to harvest.

Walnut Test Varieties

They were also testing out Pecan varieties:

Test Pecan Varieties
Pecan Test Varieties

And Chestnut varieties (video of harvester):

Chestnut Test Varieties

One of the main ideas that I’m interested in from today is Silvopasture, which combines trees, forage, and livestock. The livestock get tree cover to shade them during the hot summer and protect them from wind during the cold winter. The forage (grasses, legumes, etc.) have a more even production throughout the year. The trees hold heat closer to the ground, extending the forage growing season, and keep them from overheating during the hottest summer days. During all of this, the trees get fertilized by the livestock!

It was a little chilly, but all in all, a great day of learning. I’ll leave you with a picture of one of the beautiful farms I passed on the way home.


An Intro to Chicken Tractors

Chickens are a great first step to becoming self-sufficient. Here are 5 reasons to get them and why our Chicken Tractors are designed to fulfill each role.

  1. The most obvious reason to get chickens is for the fresh, tasty, and healthy eggs.
  2. Teaching your family about where food comes from – Each generation seems to get farther away from where their food comes from, which leads to a loss of awareness in what food is healthy. Your kids will know how eggs are produced. You can’t say that about processed food. We have included our boys as much as possible in taking care of the chickens: from feeding them scraps, to gathering eggs. One important design consideration this has led to is making sure that the chicken tractors can stand up to four boys! it’s taken a couple of iterations to get that part down.ChickenTractor01
  3. Peace of Mind – You know what is going into your eggs and how the chickens are treated. Buying “Cage free”, “Free Range”, or “Free Roaming” eggs doesn’t necessarily mean they are free to roam in the idyllic scene you might picture (Reference: Mother Earth News). Part of making sure your chickens get all the fresh greens they need is by moving them to fresh areas on a regular basis. Our chicken tractors are engineered to make them sturdy but mobile. The first chicken tractor I built weighs 150+ lbs. and feels like performing a deadlift every morning to move it. Not so with the new design. ChickenTractor02
  4. Chickens will eat your bugs, till your garden, and fertilize the soil – Chickens are omnivores and love eating bugs. The boys also love catching worms/bugs/slugs and feeding them to the chickens. Chickens also till up soil if left in the same place for very long. That kills weeds and incorporates their manure into the soil, which is rich in nitrogen. Our chicken tractors are designed with the “Square Foot Gardening” idea that the ideal garden bed is 4 feet wide. With 4-foot beds, a person only has to reach 2 feet from either side. During the summer, we move them around in the yard, so the chickens have fresh greens. During the winter, when there isn’t anything green to eat, the chicken tractor fits perfectly over our garden beds and can be left in place for longer periods of time in order to till the garden, kill weeds, and fertilize the garden.ChickenTractor03
  5. Entertainment/Low Maintenance Pets – Kids love watching and holding chickens. Each chicken has its own personality and place in its social group. Being able to move the chicken tractor, means that you can have a clean floor in the coop/run anytime you want. This makes the chickens more accessible to you or your children without having to deal with a mess.

ChickenTractor04 ChickenTractor05Note: The chicken tractor in these photos is incomplete, and now has a blue metal roof like the one on our Services page.

The Beginning…

I guess that if I had to point to the one thing that most influenced my love of the outdoors, it would be the time I spent exploring my Grandparent’s farm in Southwest Missouri. My mom grew up on their 120-acre farm, which was more like a homestead. Just about the only thing they did commercially was beef cattle, and even that wasn’t a large operation. They had at least a half-acre of garden with some fruit trees (plum and peach).

By the time I was born, they had sold some of the land, but still had 40 acres of forest and pasture. I remember spending all day, during our visits, catching tadpoles down at one ofGrandpaAndJeffrey their ponds, exploring the forest, or riding along with Grandpa to hay the cows. I remember going out to the “well house” with Grandma to get a jar of canned green beans. It was a whole shed full of canned goods that she had worked on that year.

Grandpa and Grandma had always loved nature. Here are a couple of pictures of them admiring the rose bushes and orange trees in Florida while they were on their honeymoon. DickAndLottie

Grandpa always loved exploring. He could remember, well into his 90s, the route he took when he moved his family from Seattle, Washington back to Missouri. Here is a picture of DadMountainhim standing on a mountain out west.

I’m hoping that Regenerative Landscaping will be an adventure, learning new ways to build life into the environments we all live in. The world around us should be productive, not consuming our time and resources in mediocrity. Please join us as we learn to help all people, everywhere, live in a productive and life-giving environment!