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Mayday Farm – Natural Farming Analysis Basis

Approaching the Beginning Line

There’s all the time been one thing romantic a couple of farm in New England, via colourful pictures of purple barns, silos, and grazing cows towards a quintessential autumnal panorama. But, over the previous 50 years, the area has misplaced greater than 10,000 dairy farms. Lower than 2,000 stay; and Mayday Farm is without doubt one of the lucky few.  

Positioned in Leeds, Maine, Mayday Farm homeowners Katie Gualtieri and Haden Gooch are a part of a younger farmers’ motion to regenerate what was as soon as standard farmland with the aim of constructing a sustainable, community-based enterprise. They don’t seem to be from farming households, however they share a love for agriculture. Katie left a 10-year profession in worldwide growth, engaged on points starting from land rights to meals safety in Africa. As a substitute of constructing funding choices from an workplace desk in Washington, DC, she determined to grow to be immediately concerned in farming as a dwelling in an effort to protect the land and construct again small farming communities right here at house. 

After working collectively on a direct-market livestock farm in Virginia, they moved to Maine, the place Haden labored for 2 years in a Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) with the Wolfe’s Neck Heart for Agriculture and the Setting in Freeport, a non-profit natural dairy program that gives immersive coaching in regenerative practices and farm administration. In the meantime, Katie labored on small natural dairies with  value-added operations. After years of hands-on studying, Katie and Haden had been prepared to begin their very own farming operation.

Land Entry and Farm Switch

Accessibility of land and monetary assets current challenges for younger farmers. “Discovering a farm and land that was appropriate for dairy was actually difficult,” says Katie. “A lot land is commercialized at this level that farmland is dwindling and what does exist is actually, actually costly.” Particularly in Virginia, which is why they set their sights on Maine the place land is extra inexpensive. Luckily, by finishing the DGA program, Haden routinely met the {qualifications} for a USDA Farm Service Company (FSA) mortgage.  

Previously Sander-Lou Farm, Mayday had beforehand been a 350-acre standard dairy farm in the identical household because the Forties. By the flip of the century, the homeowners had been trying to retire, they usually started leasing about 100 acres of open land on the outdated farm to neighboring farmers. Then, in 2020, the non-profit Maine Farmland Belief bought the property. Haden and Katie had been capable of lease a portion of the farm for a 12 months whereas they had been going via the FSA mortgage course of. They closed on their dream buy in 2021. By the top of the 12 months, Maine Farmland Belief had protected at the very least 20 farms, preserving greater than 2,000 acres as “endlessly farmland.” Mayday Farm was part of that.

Dairy Farm Transfers: click on to hearken to this 3 minute audio clip the place Katie speaks to OFRF about experiences with farm switch as younger dairy farmers.

Pasture and Soil Restoration

One of many priorities for Haden and Katie was to revive vitamins to the land to reinforce the soil on their farm. “The land had sat fallow for a time period and in addition had been rented on and off for a couple of decade. A hay crop was taken off, for instance, and no vitamins had been put again. A few parcels had been farmed in corn constantly for 5 or 6 years, and we had been having bother with these areas. We wished to get it again into perennial grass and grazing annual manufacturing in different areas,” says Katie.

Haden had already launched a pasture-raised poultry operation in 2020 on leased land. By a contract with a New England primarily based meat firm, the chickens devour solely non-GMO feed and are antibiotic free. Mayday Farm now does about 24,000 broiler chickens from April via November. “They’re nice little fertilizer instruments,” Katie says. “We rotate them as soon as a day to a unique pasture on the farm that we thought actually wanted assist. Now we get the good thing about all the poultry manure going proper onto the fields, and we’re actually excited to see the influence of that.”  

Regardless that this portion of Mayday’s farm operation shouldn’t be licensed natural, this management-intensive strategy to grazing helps to revive microbiota within the soil and displays Mayday’s dedication to environmental stewardship finest practices.   

Natural Certification

The poultry operation provides variety to Mayday’s income stream, and alongside the licensed natural dairy operation, helped safe the FSA mortgage. After the farm buy was finalized, Haden instantly had the land licensed in mid-2021 and utilized for a provisional software to certify the cows via the Maine Natural Farmers and Gardeners Affiliation (MOFGA), which is Maine’s USDA Accredited Natural Certifier. The cows arrived in January 2022, they usually started delivery natural milk that month.  

Luckily, there have been only a few bumps within the street to certification as a result of Haden had made contacts in the course of the DGA program that linked him to Stonyfield Natural. Katie additionally credit MOFGA for being a useful and supportive certifier, which enabled Haden and Katie to recertify dairy cows they had been buying from a New Hampshire natural dairy farmer who wanted to liquidate as a result of he had reenlisted for energetic obligation within the army. The cows had been already producers for Stonyfield. Nonetheless, to ease the buying and transition course of, Katie advises others to get to know the land and its historical past concretely within the transition from standard to natural farmland.  

Monitoring Pasture Administration with Apps

A bit greater than a 12 months later, Mayday enjoys a thriving wholesale licensed natural dairy enterprise via the direct provide program with Stonyfield Natural. And now that Haden and Katie are doing rotational grazing with poultry and near 40 cows, they’re utilizing tech to assist them keep up to the mark.  

“We do all of our grazing administration in an app known as Pasture Maps. We are able to monitor all of our strikes in actual time and the way lengthy we had been on a particular piece of pasture,” says Katie. “And that’s actually nice for recordkeeping. We rotate the cows each 12 hours and actually need to take note of how we graze the land, how a lot residue we go away, and the way a lot relaxation we give to every pasture.”  

Mayday’s intention is to construct again the soil and forage species and to search out steadiness of their conservation practices. “We did a complete batch of soil samples simply to get a baseline for the place we’re at with natural matter and to get an concept of the place there is likely to be mineral deficiencies on the farm,” says Katie. “We unfold our saved manure from the cows on our hay fields, however we’ve additionally been utilizing natural wooden ash as a minimal complement the place we have to change the soil pH.” They’re additionally within the early phases of working with the USDA Nationwide Assets Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental High quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and submitted an software in 2022 for infrastructure to assist mitigate manure run-off and supply higher outside entry for the dairy herd in the course of the winter months.

Diversifying Markets and Native Group Meals Safety

Sooner or later, they might love so as to add some steadiness to how they promote their merchandise. Proper now, they’re appreciative of the regular wholesale market that the poultry and natural milk contracts present. However Haden and Katie hope to attempt a bit of little bit of direct advertising and marketing of a few of their rooster and perhaps some uncooked milk in order that they’ll interface extra with their area people. 

“We’d wish to perhaps arrange a bit of farm retailer right here or tag together with some pals who’re already in farmers markets in order that we are able to promote some rooster there,” says Katie. “It bothers us that every little thing we develop is leaving the farm for essentially the most half.”

A part of the rationale Haden and Katie each love farming is for the neighborhood influence and impact they’ll have on the native economic system. “Now we have a milk truck driver that’s preserving their job; and we’ve our grain provider, and we’ve an area mechanic, and we’ve a Maine-based firm that does all of our servicing for our milking gear. This is the reason it’s so necessary to maintain farms in enterprise,” Katie says. “Other than the direct influence we are able to have with our personal merchandise, we’re additionally supporting different exercise throughout the neighborhood that strengthens our native economic system.”

 “When you might have a extremely industrialized meals system, you may see what occurs when one thing comes alongside like COVID, which took out a serious meat slaughtering facility after which the system begins to crumble. This must be addressed, and we have to begin transferring towards rising a extra equitable and secure meals system with a multi-faceted strategy.”

“Leeds is a powerful farming neighborhood,” says Katie, “however there are pockets of meals insecurity. It’s important to drive out of Leeds in an effort to get something. There is no such thing as a downtown space, no grocery retailer, no fuel station.”  

A brand new technology of farmers needs to make natural meals entry rather more community-centric. Mayday has long-term targets, for instance, of offering community-based meals for locals. “We have to change accessibility in order that meals is a extra democratic factor than it’s proper now,” says Katie. “I believe it’s necessary what the long run technology of farmers seems like and the way we make meals extra resilient inside communities.”

Shifting Ahead into the Future

If that is what the younger farming motion is all about, then the way forward for meals and farming on this nation is in good arms. In Maine, and elsewhere within the nation, there are farmers who’re growing old out of the system and younger people who find themselves stepping in to take over these roles. The transition isn’t all the time straightforward in the case of giving up one thing a farming household has finished for generations. Like Haden and Katie, many individuals on this contemporary technology of farmers didn’t develop up on farms. But they see themselves as stewards of the land and of the animals.

By their intentional strategy to grazing, Mayday hopes it might grow to be a part of the answer fairly than the issue in the case of points like meals safety and local weather change. “We’re acutely aware of how we as small farmers have the chance to make selections by way of soil constructing and carbon sequestration, and we would like to concentrate on our general influence in the case of local weather change,” says Katie. “We need to strategy farming in essentially the most accountable approach potential throughout the natural framework. However even when there wasn’t an natural label, that is the best way we’d select to farm anyway.” 

. . . 

Hyperlinks for additional studying:

Wolfe’s Neck Heart for Agriculture and the Setting

Maine Farmland Belief

Maine Natural Farmers and Gardeners Affiliation

Pasture Maps

Nationwide Assets Conservation Service

Environmental High quality Incentives Program



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