Healthy soil can make as big a difference for home gardeners as it can for large-scale farmers. We sat down with Melissa Allen, District Manager at the John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District to talk about the importance of and path to healthy soil.
Eight generations of cattle farming had taken its toll on the streams at Dean and Carina Elgin’s Mountain Hollow Farm in northern Fauquier County. Historically, “all the cattle had access to the creek. That was our watering system. And that was the norm in that day,” Dean Elgin said. But by 2015, the Elgins wanted to repair the streambank erosion and reduce the water pollution caused by the foot traffic and waste generated by 200 cattle moving in and out of the water repeatedly. But there was a problem.
A large herd of fluffy, yet still intimidating, sheep run full speed through a gate as they’re rotated to an alternate pasture at Over Jordan Farm in Flint Hill, Va.
“I don’t use herding dogs. The animals are trained to come to me and follow me,” says farm manager and Bean Hollow Grassfed owner Mike Sands, who has over 30 years of experience in sustainable agriculture, environmental conservation and community-based economic development…..
Like many Piedmont farms, Over Jordan Farm in Rappahannock has been a pasture-based operation for decades. After 20 years of overgrazing, however, it’s facing issues that are common in the region—poor soil health, a lack of grass and plant diversity and the resulting lack of nutrients for livestock. This not only decreases a farm’s profitability, but it’s also a major source of runoff and soil erosion in VA.