Forrest Pritchard is a full-time sustainable farmer and New York Times bestselling author, holding a BA in English and a BS in Geology from William & Mary. Smith Meadows, his farm, was one of the first “grass finished” operations in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in Washington DC for nearly two decades. Pritchard's first two books received starred reviews from The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and NPR, and his latest book is set to debut in 2018.

20 responses to “The Drought of 2012: An Organic Farmer’s Perspective”

  1. Donna Geddes

    I really enjoyed this article. Thank you for sharing so much wisdom and encouragement. Are you familiar with the “Back to Eden” film and philosophy? The film shares about how to help the land to retain moisture, among other natural gardening tips. I’m just learning some of this and my daughters and I plan to incorporate more of these natural principles into our gardening practices in the near future. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Jessie@Jessie:Improved

    I’m sold on sustainable agriculture for a number of reasons, but it was refreshing to see a good *economic* argument for feeding animals grass. Too often people will spout off 10 different reasons to go organic or sustainable and it will be dismissed as “too expensive” or “not practical”. When industrial ag runs out of pesticides and herbicides that will keep their crops alive then we’ll see what’s practical after all.

  3. Chris Osmond

    Splendid story! Will be much forwarded. Thank you.

  4. Emmy

    Great post!!

  5. Michael P. Wilson

    I enjoyed your piece very much. I live about 6 or 7 miles from you, just across the Shenandoah. I wondered if you:
    1. Employ a Voisin system, or some other, and if another, what?
    2. Have sod grass or clump grass?
    3. Can you graze into or through the winter on existing pasture in a good year?
    4. What is your stocking rate?
    5. Do you integrate your sheep with your cattle for grazing, or graze them separately?
    Thank you very much. I knew your father, and have met your sister a few times. I would like to visit your farm sometime, and my wife and I were going to contact you about buying a side of beef, or perhaps an entire beef if we can get someone to go in with us.

  6. Michael P. Wilson

    Have you considered or tried Brome grass? Thanks.

    1. Michael P. Wilson

      I like the idea of a sod grass that covers better as a benefit in dry seasons. The less bare earth, the better.

  7. Aaron

    Great article Forrest! Thanks for not following the proverbial “herd” with your farming methods. It’s refreshing to see a movement of so many small-mid size farmers and home gardeners popping up around the country who are using organic and permaculture methods. People are finally starting to reconnect to their food and the people that grow it. Hopefully, in another generation, the west will actually have a diet worth exporting.

    @Donna Geddes: The method shown in Back to Eden is also frequently utilized in permaculture. My wife and I have been using this method combined with hugelkultur in our yard for about three years now. They’re highly effective at creating nutrient rich soil that’s teeming with life and requires no water, fertilizer, or plowing. Highly recommend trying it. Here’s a link to students using a revised version of this at U Mass: UMass uses a layer of topsoil between the cardboard and the wood chips; Eden puts the wood chips straight on the cardboard. Either method works great, but adding soil brings more worms and other decomposers in to break down the wood chips faster, so you get dirt faster. Using dirt adds a bit more expense though.

  8. Chad Snader

    Very well written and sums up alot of what I’ve been preaching to my friends and family! Keep up the good work; I’ll be following you on FB based on this article and look forward to more. Thank you for farming the RIGHT way!!

  9. Lp johnson

    Great article! You & me, we think alike. I’m trying to convince people to take more responsibility for their food and grow where they live. I’ve been quit disturbed to watch the evening news, listening to people boo-hoo about the corn & soy, then take my evening walk and see lawn after lawn of well-manacured, well-watered grass. We’ll be buying very little from the grocery store this winter thanks in part to filling our city lot with as much “edible landscaping” as it will hold & 7 spoiled laying hens. My husband hunts deer, my father pastures sheep and grows alfalfa (which he is planning to expand because of a surge in demand. Grass, yes!), & we are going to purchase a 4-H project hog. Our rule is no food from a box or bag, and if more people adopted this way of eating (and tended a garden the way they tend their lawns) we could eliminate the weaknesses of our food supply (namely transportation). Thanks for your time, I’m going to preorder your book.

  10. Connie Trokey-Christians

    Great article. (and love the John Lennon quote.) We’re long-time organic farmers putting a new twist into our operation. We’ve decided to stop relying on conventional field growing and convert to a more conservation minded approach for raising our veggies. We’ve found that regardless of the drought in Missouri this summer, our aquaponics crop is doing so much better and is a LOT less day to day work than our organic field crops. We use less than 10% of the water, too. I think that a national mind-shift in this direction could greatly reduce our dependency on corporate farming and fossil fuels, while at the same time assure crop success and water conservation. There ARE better ways to grow food and be responsible to our home planet. Thanks for your perspective. I hope more people become supportive of organic farming and start protecting our precious natural resources.

  11. David Miller

    I loved this article. I am approached all the time by owners in the Midwest that wish not to sell their beautiful pasture based farms to the conventional corn and soybean establishment. I only wish that our company could purchase and preserve all pastures that are so endangered. We have focused on organic farming — starting in Illinois — and are now hoping to expand to Wisconsin and diversify to pastures and grasses. In the process, we educate our members on the true meaning of sustainable agriculture. Thanks for educating us.
    David Miller, Iroquois Valley Farms

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