Make Braeburn Farms a Stop on the 2018 Piedmont Farm Tour!
Braeburn Farms welcomes you to visit us on the 23rd Annual Piedmont Farm Tour, co-sponsored by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and Weaver Street Market on Saturday and Sunday, April 28th and 29th, from 2– 6 pm each day. The Piedmont Farm Tour connects community members to 35 local farms across five counties. Bring the whole family to our farm to learn more about the following:
In 2002 a friend was asked to go around the world and find the best grass-fed beef. He ended up at the Rotakawa Estate in New Zealand with a herd of Red Devon cattle that had a 100-year history of grass-fed genetics. Thirteen bred heifers were shipped to New England. Semen from that herd was placed in our cows in 2002, and embryos from these imported cows were placed in my cows in 2003, 2004, and 2005. This was the beginning of our Red Devon cattle, which have proved to be a highly-productive breed, producing gourmet beef on grass without the use of grain, antibiotics, or chemicals. The animals are born and processed here in Alamance County. All cuts of beef may be purchased at Left Bank Butchery a high-quality single-muscle butchery in Saxapahaw, NC. They may also be purchased at Company Shops Market and are used at the Saxapahaw General Store, The Eddy Pub, and Reverence Cafe. During the CFSA Tour you will be able to ride through the herd and see how they are managed.
Commercial agriculture has led, in many instances, to poor land usage. This includes carbon release, erosion, air and water pollution, and excessive fossil fuel use. Our goals over the last ten years have been to use high-intensity grazing as a means of sequestering carbon in the soil and eliminating fertilizer and chemical use. This has led to increased soil organic matter in all of our pastures. This has resulted in increased quality of pastures. The major creek flowing through the farm was put into a conservation easement in 2002, resulting in water that is cleaner when it leaves the farm than when it enters. Ultra-high-density grazing, water management, soil health techniques have all resulted in improved soil with almost no commercial inputs. Fossil fuel use has been reduced to one gallon per acre per year. During the CFSA Farm Tour all of these practices will be demonstrated.
Over the last ten years soil health has become a major goal of sustainable agriculture. By eliminating fertilizer and chemical use and with proper manure deposition, the life in the soil has steadily improved. We are currently producing very high-quality compost with the Johnson-Su static composting technique. This can then be leveraged through the use of compost tea, compost extract, and judicious placement of the compost itself to markedly enrich the soil. The microscope has become one of our favorite tools to examine the soil and compost for the bacteria, fungi and protozoa in the compost and soil. During the tour soil samples will be projected on a TV screen to demonstrate these techniques. With the increase in soil health comes a far greater diversity of plants and exploding populations of insects, birds, and wild life. Over the next several years we will pursue the use of silvopasture.
Farms have under-utilized assets, which include the sun that lands on the farm, the water that flows through the farm, and the air that flows over the farm. For the past 7 years we have used a 15 kW solar system to run our freezers and coolers. We recently added a wind turbine, which sits on the second-highest point in Alamance County. This will be combined with additional solar power to produce a microgrid. This project is being done in conjunction with Randolph Electric Membership Corporation, NC-EMC, Advanced Energy, and Southern Energy Management. The purpose is to see if farms can be a source of energy production throughout the multitude of rural electric coops. In conjunction we now have three electric vehicles that are running almost exclusively on sun power. The wind turbine itself is made with components found at any auto parts store, in conjunction with the Handy Village Institute.