In December 2019, the Alliance for Community Agriculture launched a new micro-loan program to help local agricultural producers. The program was funded by a generous first donor with an investment contribution of $ 10,000 to establish the revolving credit fund. A committee of CAA board members accepts and reviews applications with the goal of providing flexible, short-term microloans for local agriculture. As the loans are repaid, new loans will be accepted.
M&M Custom Grazing, a cattle grazing operation in North Routt County, was one of the first recipients of a CAA micro-loan. They take a holistic and scientific approach to the impact, photosynthesis and resilience of animals. The objective is to maintain a symbiotic relationship between grass ecosystems and herbivores / cattle. Ultimately, this connects to the ground, which nurtures the life of the working landscape and animals.
Effective strengthening of plant root systems protects against drought stress and the creation of topsoil to increase soil fertility and production. Pasture-based agriculture provides high-quality, healthy and low-intake local foods. The goal is to help build a strong and resilient local food system that brings positive environmental outcomes.
The animal impact of these grazing practices is numerous. Well-managed ruminant herds contribute to a wide range of positive and essential impacts on land, such as:
• Stimulation of root growth, improvement of photosynthesis and carbon sequestration
• Deposit of natural fertilizer; trampling vegetation, promoting decomposition, while providing plant cover for moisture retention and creation of topsoil
• Elimination of fire risks
• Breaking up the crust of the soil with the action of the clogs, which improves water permeation and reduces erosion
Since animals depend solely on the land for food, nothing is more important than photosynthesis. Through photosynthesis, plants remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. Plants are essentially solar panels that harvest sunlight, convert energy into a product that livestock can ingest, build topsoil, and strengthen root systems.
M&M Custom Grazing management practices bring together animal welfare and all that the natural environment has to offer. They often use portable electric fences to run their livestock. Moving animals often has a myriad of benefits to the land and the finished meat product. By keeping animals in a small area for a short time, they expose the land to the positive effects of grazing animals and stimulate the appetite of livestock. Once the animals have been moved, it allows the crucial period of ground rest necessary to promote regeneration.
This dedication to animal and land management brings benefits to the environment, animals and products. Although this small-scale agriculture can take time, it is a win-win-win situation.
With global food systems undergoing constant disruption, it’s time to learn more about where your food is coming from. Understanding the impact of your food purchases is a conscious way to support local agriculture and ultimately get a great meal. You can find out more and buy local grass-fed meat at caamarket.org and mmcustomgrazing.com.
Meredith Rose sits on the Advisory Board of the Community Agriculture Alliance. Mandy and Matthew Gordon own M&M Custom Grazing.