"Each day we see a new blessing in working with nature instead of against it," Neill says. And the natural balance of things is certainly evident on the Lindley's farm. Their wheat is looking better than any crop they've had yet. In establishing more diversity in the pastures that the Holsteins graze, Neill decided to interseed alfalfa, a legume that typically will not thrive in Carolina pastures because of pests, but that is thriving in the rejuvenated soils Neill has so carefully nurtured. Their crop yields are comparable, as well. "We're actually growing more nutritious crops for our cows without all those inputs."
Being exposed to other Organic Valley farmers before they even joined the cooperative really helped to smooth the way. "We kept meeting more farmers from the cooperative and I couldn't help being struck by their willingness to share notes and help their fellow farmer. When we decided to join the co-op, folks came to our farm and sat with us in our kitchen totalk about it. It's been amazing."
The Lindley's next goal is to close the feed loop by raising all of the supplemental grains (barley, oats, wheat, corn and soy) the cows need when the pastures lose nutritional value over the winter months. Their sustainability goals continue to grow as they explore ways to meet on-farm energy needs. "Our minds are completely open to it," Neill says. "And I can see a lot more farmers coming around. Nature speaks for itself."