Mary’s Organic Farm
Mary Nachreiner and Rob Hare
After over 25 years in the military and moving from North Carolina, Mary Nachreiner thought it was time for her and her significant other, Rob Hare, to dip their toes into farming.
Little did she know, that with the help of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Sauk County Land Resources and Environment (LRE), they would dive head first into rotational grazing. After Mary moved to Wisconsin, she started farming by growing organic heritage grains. However, she wanted to move away from aggressively tilling the soil for weed control. After cropping, Mary and Rob started with a few organic chickens, a rescue horse and goats with a penchant for escaping. After hearing about rotational grazing at an organic conference in winter of 2018, things fell into place and Mary and Rob bought a herd of Belted Galloway’s who needed a place to live immediately. This winter hardy breed was perfect for their 24-acre organically certified pasture atop a ridge in Plain, Wisconsin.
“The first year of grazing was tough, there is such a huge learning curve!” Mary says, when explaining the struggles of converting to rotational grazing. However, the cost share for the grazing practice from NRCS and Sauk County LRE were able to balance some of the start up costs to make the conversion more seamless. NRCS and Sauk County employee communications, along with attending pasture walks helped them through fencing and making grazing plans. Mary explains, “At first, it was difficult to know when we should move them. It helps that our bell cow, Bea lets us know when she wants new grass to eat.”
Mary and Rob applied and were accepted to utilize the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and LRE funds.
With the financial help provided, they were able to expand their herd by a few head this year. With the help from programs like EQIP and Sauk County LRE funds, this partnership can get more conservation on the ground! “Even just with one year of grazing we have seen a change in the land,” said Mary.
In just one year’s time implementing rotational grazing, they have seen more wildlife, less soil erosion and better weed control.
Mary and Rob hope to keep their herd happy and healthy moving forward. With the addition of a third party bee apiary, a maple syrup operation, and experimentation with new pasture and hay mixes, they are sure to be busy in the near future.
Mary says, “On our farm, this is a true success story! It’s great to make a little money doing it but, having animals is really just great for our happiness.”