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Diversified ag tour scheduled in the county

If you are interested in learning more about diversified, sustainable and value-added agriculture, here is an opportunity for you. This year the Nebraska SARE program is teaming up through a grant with the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program to conduct a tour in southeast-south central Nebraska and visit four very diverse farming operations in the Thayer County area.

The tour is scheduled for Saturday, August 3. We will be providing transportation in a couple of vans from Lincoln, but we will be willing to pick up people at a couple of points along the way to Hebron. We will plan on leaving Lincoln around 7:30 a.m., at a location yet to be determined. The tour should conclude around 3 p.m., with vans returning to Lincoln around 4:30 p.m.

While there is no cost for this tour due to the USDA grant and the Nebraska SARE Program, pre-registration is required by Monday, July 29, so we can plan accordingly for transportation and food. To register for this tour contact me at University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Nemaha County either by phone at (402) 274-4755 or email me at glesoing2@unl.edu.

The first stop on the tour is Open Sky Farm, operated by Jon and Jamie Yoachim. After learning about farming through the Farm Beginning class and farming near Unadilla, they have returned to their roots and are now focusing on their grass-fed cattle and an intensive grazing system on their tall-grass prairie near Alexandria.

The second tour stop will be the Jerry Lahners’ farm. Jerry has been farming organically on his dryland and irrigated crop farm in the Thayer County area for many years. His farm is NOP certified organic, and he utilizes a crop rotation of corn, soybean, and winter wheat with cover crops planted between his grain crops.

The third stop on the tour will be at Harold Stone’s, The Stones Thoreau, for lunch in Davenport. Harold Stone has been working to revitalize the region in the production and sale of local food. He has also initiated a certified kitchen and a farmers market and is developing a food distribution system to provide fresh and frozen local produce and meals to the regional community. We will have the opportunity to partake in a meal of locally produced food and learn all about what Harold is doing with local food in Davenport and the Thayer County area.

The final stop of the day is at Farmstead Flowers, which is operated by Aaron and Megan Hird, of Bruning. They are a local source for cut flowers in the florist market here in Southeast Nebraska. Aaron and Megan are beginning farmers who recently moved back to Nebraska from New Mexico. Both grew up in rural Nebraska with parents involved in farming and ranching.

Farmstead Flowers are grown in a non-heated hoop house and outdoors. Plants are grown in the native soil with a surface drip system and weed barrier over the top. A minimal till/no-till concept, cover crops, compost and a natural/organic growing environment are utilized in the soil management of the beds. Aaron and Megan are exploring the market and how Farmstead Flowers will meet the existing demands for cut flowers.

If you have questions about this tour you can contact your local Extension office or Gary Lesoing at 402-274-4755.


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