COLD SPRING, Minn. — They were constantly fighting nature, struggling with sick animals and finding it a challenge to maintain their milk quality.
Sleep deprived, frustrated, constantly buying feed and feeling their physical and mental health and passions fade, the Willenbring Family decided they had had enough.
But rather than give up their farm and way of life, they decided to transition to soil health-focused regenerative farming and adaptive grazing principles. Sixteen years later, their farm has become a model of the power of regenerative transformation—recognized as one of Minnesota’s top-quality milk producers.
Today, the Soil Health Academy (SHA) announced the Willenbring Family Farm, located near Cold Spring, Minn., will serve as an outdoor classroom for its three-day, “Transforming Your Dairy and Quality of Life” regenerative farming school, June 22-24.
Part of the operation includes the Schmitz Dairy, operated by the husband-and-wife team of Derek and Taylor Schmitz and their young daughter Olivia.
“Renting the dairy operation from the Willenbrings, the Schmitz family began with ‘eight cows and a grass-fed’ dream in 2014 and have expanded to 60 cows with added pastured pork and lamb production today,” said SHA instructor Allen Williams, Ph.D. “By working together, the two families have maintained the farm’s dairy heritage, focusing on crop production and multi-species livestock. The operation demonstrates perfectly how regenerative ag and adaptive grazing principles can restore soil function, farm profitability and improve the health and futures of our family dairy farms,” he said.
Williams, along with Understanding Ag grazing and dairy consultants Kent Solberg and Phyllis and Paul Van Amburgh, are among the cadre of world-renowned experts who will provide a mix of demonstrations, expert presentations and hands-on experience—all of which are geared to help producers quickly and practically restore soil health, improve nutrient cycling and increase net per-acre profits.
To further ensure participant success, tuition for the on-farm school now includes registration for SHA’s on-line Regen Ag 101 course, two follow-up, one-on-one video conferences with SHA experts and access to future group conference calls with the course’s instructors. Scholarships and discounts are also available for qualifying applicants.
“Attendees will see and hear, firsthand, how these farm families were able to bring their soils back to life, significantly reduce their vet bills, generate a surplus of feed—and how they restored their own health and outlook in the process,” Williams said. “As importantly, attendees will hear how both families rediscovered the heart, passion, fun and profitability through regenerative farming.”
To learn more about the school, visit www.soilhealthacademy.org .
–Soil Health Academy