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How Grassfed Beef Will Save the World - Chris Kerston of Chaffin Orchards at WAPF-Santa Clara

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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This video has so much goodness. At first glance, I thought it would be a bit boring, so I bookmarked it, and finally watched it tonight. That initial impression was misguided--now I want others to see it, too. Lots of people.

Here are just some of the cool parts:
  • wonderful overview of Chaffin Family Orchards, - which we were privileged to visit while on the 2012 permies.com Symphonies in Seed and Soil tour
  • integrating livestock into your farm systems - including how to set up portable electric fencing
  • why and how grassfed meat is more nutritious
  • diversifying farm income - camps and "glamping"
  • holistic management in relation to climate change.

  • And that's just the overview.



    Thank you, Chris Kerston and Chaffin Family Orchards! (At the 2012 Weston A. Price Foundation Conference in Santa Clara, CA.)
     
    Lisa Paulson
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    I agree, this is really good information, thank you for pointing it out . I think we need a lot more human scale integrated operations and it is always helpful to me to see an example of what a successful one looks like. I also agree we need millions of people watching this and taking it to heart in their chosen daily behaviours.
     
    paul wheaton
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    Lots of really good stuff there.

    I like the "predator friendly" stuff.

    Chris was the guy that took us on the tour, and it was remarkably similar to this presentation.

    When I visit a lot of places, it's kinda painful because they have a long ways to go to get to what i think is good. But these guys were most of the way there. The two suggestions I made were: more texture in the landscape (the land is too flat); move away from "orchard" and toward "food forest" (convert from 100 olive trees to 10 olive trees, plus 20 other species)

    The glamping stuff is really amazing.

    Here is that holistic planned grazing video from the alan savory institute in a smoother format:



    The part with Dan Dagget



    The part with Alan Savory






     
    Tyler Ludens
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    I found the bit about how to restore native plants by putting seeds out, covering with hay and then running herbivores over, to be especially useful and something I intend to implement immediately.

     
    Lisa Paulson
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    It is a complex balance , as far as having more diversity and less monocropping in areas, he is dealing in part with what he has in place already there and yes moving forward incorporating more food forest ideas may work replacing even more monocropping but competing in a market where the product has to be refined and distributed and the thousands of details that go into that , they do have to compete in economies of scale. For sure this approach is a step in the right direction. I think the food forest idea works on many levels especially individual homes with small holdings of land but I am not sure it is not going to have to be modified as he is doing, and maybe taken further for sure, but may not produce in a manner that functions for larger distributuion or marketing of product when done as the examples of food forest we are idealizing? Somewhere there will lie a balance that is workable , hopefully that more and more seek.

    I found it interesting that that operation has been long established and not facing the same initial start up costs some are going to have to deal with and it is a very large scale comparably to most individuals endeavours here and yet they still have to explore things like the glamping because the farm revenues are marginal .

     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Lisa Paulson wrote:
    I found it interesting that that operation has been long established and not facing the same initial start up costs some are going to have to deal with and it is a very large scale comparably to most individuals endeavours here and yet they still have to explore things like the glamping because the farm revenues are marginal .


    There's marginal and then there's marginal. I do think it makes sense for businesses to not fully disclose how "marginal" things might be.

    And there are a couple interesting bits about Chaffin's income models that fascinate me.

    --Chaffin sells directly to consumers via farmers markets and food buying clubs. (In fact, Kristen Lee-Charlson's Heirloom Missoula food group gets their olive oil from Chaffin!) No commodity-style middle men. I love that.

    --Using animals for mowing, etc. reduced fuel spending by 85% - this is HUGE. And, the flip side, that Chris mentioned on the tour (though not mentioned in the lecture or on their website), is that their labor costs went up. Think of how good that is for the local economy, though very difficult in almost any business model. When we visited, they were building intern housing and beyond the glamping, Chris mentioned educational partnerships and opportunities that sounded like brilliant win-win ways of gaining labor without as much cost.

    Innovation, creative function stacking and other permaculture principles at work. And very much in line with the numbers Paul has crunched regarding replacing mechanized, monocrop harvesting with food forest, animal and people systems. I think it can be more cost-effective -- it just takes most of our food-growing paradigms and throws them up in the air like a deck of cards.

     
    Kelly Smith
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    if anyone has any info on the talk relating to small acreage grass management (the question @ 1:14:00, video in 1st post), i would love to more about it/listen to the talk.
    also anything relating to this type of management on dryland pastures.

    here is another video of Greg Judy, talking about beef production with rotational grazing and how it can be used to heal land.
     
    Mike Underhill
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    Chaffin is located in very marginal volcanic soils. Chris and his former stewards have really made an oasis in tough land (evident on Google Maps, search: "Chaffin Family Orchards"). The competition at the Chico Farmer's Market benefits from the deep valley soils located to the west.
     
    Julia Winter
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    Glamping? I admit, I was trying to do paperwork while also listening to this lecture, so I missed this word. Are you referring to the agrotourism angle, with the cabin/tents?
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Julia Winter wrote:Glamping? I admit, I was trying to do paperwork while also listening to this lecture, so I missed this word. Are you referring to the agrotourism angle, with the cabin/tents?


    Yup. And you didn't miss "glamping" in the lecture - I don't think they phrased it that way. It came from this photo and link to a blog post about camping in the tents at Chaffin.
     
    Lisa Paulson
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    'Glamping' came from Mary Jane Butters successful enterprise where she promoted glamour themed - camping on her farm , and put various facets to it, from being all female , to weekend culinary camping retreats , specialty social events ( much like the Urban Homestead people seem to be doing right now ) which lead to more media branding , books etc. as a revenue means .

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1423630815
     
    Monte Hines
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    Kelly Smith,

    Thanks for that video, "The Healing Effects of Holistic High Density Grazing on Land, Livestock & People's Lives", Greg Judy, Green Pastures Farm Rucker, Missouri.

    It was very informative!

    Lots of good stuff in presentation.

    Reference to Poop Cycle made by Greg Judy: Dr. Pat Richardson of the University of Texas describes the "poop cycle" and compares the diets of dung beetles and humans.
    Here is the short video:


    Greg Judy also refereed to "Living Soil" 1982 Movie - It is great. Without spoken commentary, this film depicts both the life of the soil and the life within it.
    Video really does a great job of depicting:


    http://hines.blogspot.com/2013/01/holistic-planned-grazing.html

    More really good stuff!
    There is a great book just out by Mark Shepard, "Restoration Agriculture" He discusses the use of animals and other methods for restoring and aggregating soil. I highly recommend.
    Related youtube video of an excellent presentation by Mark:


    http://hines.blogspot.com/2013/01/restoration-agriculture-by-mark-shepard.html
     
    andrew curr
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    You will probably notice that grassfed beef often has trouble making the usda top grading!
    But wait! Before you get all ansy.
    The solution is to feed em corn,(ACORN)etc
    this will get the intramuscular fat happening;
    I Cannot understand why no one is doing it on a big scale
    geoff lawton recons you have a'can do attitude' I love to walk around in the fall with a pocket of acorns,it gives on a sense of purpose ,makes one more attractive there are so many available spaces
     
    andrew curr
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    Good on you Mark Sheperd Real farmers need to get into this permaculture thing too!
    we need to breed a whole new bunch of plants /new traits into our critters,,Machines to harrvest differant crops
    I believe I have the most productive superfine merinos in the world but its a real bitch selling Product into an increasingly monopolised market
    Im thinking i should get into alcohol From honey locust /sunchokes dont know much about commercial distilling

    Some farmers are magnificent engineers . me im the Salvador Dali of building
     
    Elisabeth Tea
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    paul wheaton wrote:When I visit a lot of places, it's kinda painful because they have a long ways to go to get to what i think is good. But these guys were most of the way there. The two suggestions I made were: more texture in the landscape (the land is too flat); move away from "orchard" and toward "food forest" (convert from 100 olive trees to 10 olive trees, plus 20 other species)

    I respectfully disagree. I think it would be a terrible loss to cut down the world's oldest olive trees just because they're set up in a monoculture orchard. One of the tenets of permaculture is that we want to set up agriculture that we pass down to our children and grandchildren. They've done that not only with 100+ year-old olives, but also with 50+ year-old stone fruits. When I plant my own food forest I'll put more of a variety in a smaller space, but I can only hope that 5 generations from now my legacy will still appreciate what I've grown for them.
     
    paul wheaton
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    I respectfully disagree right back! With the respecting and the disagreeing and stuff.

    Nature is going to try and take out a monocrop. It is nature's design. Orchards are monocrops.

    One approach is to fight nature: kill the fungi and bugs that will show up that is part of nature's army.

    Another approach is do nothing and see what happens: nature will probably take out 90% to 100% of the trees you want to keep.

    But if you take out 90% of the trees yourself, and fill the spaces with a variety of other species, then the remaining trees can have long vibrant lives with no care. In alignment with nature.

    Granted - taking out a very old and productive tree is a painful thing. Probably the most painful thing to give advice about when a permaculture designer encounters an orchard. And most orchard owners will not do it. At the same time, at least if we project the message, then when there is a new field and somebody says "orchard!" hopefully somebody else will now say "how about a food forest instead?"

     
    Elisabeth Tea
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    paul wheaton wrote:Nature is going to try and take out a monocrop. It is nature's design. Orchards are monocrops.
    You're right. Orchards are monocrops.


    paul wheaton wrote:But if you take out 90% of the trees yourself, and fill the spaces with a variety of other species, then the remaining trees can have long vibrant lives with no care. In alignment with nature.
    You're right about that one too.

    paul wheaton wrote:Granted - taking out a very old and productive tree is a painful thing. Probably the most painful thing to give advice about when a permaculture designer encounters an orchard. And most orchard owners will not do it. At the same time, at least if we project the message, then when there is a new field and somebody says "orchard!" hopefully somebody else will now say "how about a food forest instead?"
    Right again.

    At my home, we have a tradition that when you realize that you were wrong you do an interpretive dance called the I-was-wrong-and-you-were-right dance. I'll spare you the moves, but I will be grown up enough to realize that this probably means I still have some growing up to do. I have no problem cutting down a tree that doesn't provide food for man or beast, but I still find it very painful to cut down productive food trees.

    I probably should have listened better when you said this to begin with:
    paul wheaton wrote:When I visit a lot of places, it's kinda painful because they have a long ways to go to get to what i think is good. But these guys were most of the way there.
    Because of the way that they are predator friendly, because they see the value of water, because they take a long-term approach to the land, because they use animals to do work instead of relying on petroleum products, because they don't pick fruit until it's ready, because they plant in such a way that each fruit ripens in succession, I found their way of doing things comfortable and was willing to stop at most of the way there instead of going through the last few painful steps.

    This got me thinking. I wonder what it would look like if they took the same variety of trees that they already had and replanted them in a mixed orchard. As it stands they have about 20+ varieties of fruit, but each is segregated in its own orchard. It would take the same amount of space to plant the same varieties in a mixed orchard. However, the insect predation on the orchard and the disease in the orchard will go down. It would not be the food forest you're looking for yet, since it misses out on the other six layers of the forest and on trees that provide resources other than food, but it is a step in the right direction that we know is do-able since they're already producing that in the same amount of space.
     
    Elisabeth Tea
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    BTW, if I knew how to edit my earlier post I would, but I don't so I won't. I do know that those aren't the world's oldest olives. That would be ludicrous. They're the world's oldest Mission olives. It's an idiotic detail, but I hate to leave it hanging out there.
     
    Sue Miller
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    I understand the importance of the "one bite rule" that is illustrated around minute 37 in the video at the top of the post. Can anyone explain to me how I determine when the grass plant has re-grown enough and recharged its root system enough such that it is time to bring the animals back?
     
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