The NeighborHerd is a not-for-profit initiative established to manage the production and delivery of healthy, responsibly produced beef to schools, and to provide educational programs related to sustainable food production. The NeighborHerd is a financially self-sustaining charity designed to accomplish the following:
Provide Naturally Raised Hormone-Free Meat to School Lunch Programs:
The NeighborHerd works with schools and their food service providers to replace the industrially produced commodity ground beef in their supply chain with ground beef from our locally grazed herds. Our cattle are never given steroids or hormones and spend their days eating natural, chemical free pasture forages.
Practice Sustainable Rotational Grazing on Local Leased or Use-Granted Land:
We practice rotational grazing in which the herd spends only short periods on each pasture before moving to the next. This ensures that only the most desirable grasses are consumed, that the grasses are not grazed beyond a point from which they cannot robustly regrow, and that the herd moves on to fresh pasture regularly while the manure on the previous pasture begins to break down and fertilize the grasses. Undesirable plants are trampled and decompose, helping to build a deep organic loam layer. Eventually, the program will also provide pastured eggs and chickens using mobile hen-houses to follow the cattle rotation, allowing the hens to forage for insects and fresh greens.
Partner with Local Schools to Provide Educational Programs in Sustainable Food Production:
We work with our school partners to design and implement educational programs introducing students to the issues, benefits and limitations of sustainable agriculture and the connections between sound animal husbandry, food production and consumption. The grazing program is made accessible to the students for farm visits and the managers of the program make themselves available to the schools for presentations and demonstrations upon request. Where appropriate, the NeighborHerd works with schools to develop internship programs providing students with hands-on experience in rotational grazing and sustainable farming.
Identify Sister Urban Schools for Participation in the Program:
As the program progresses, the carrying capacity of the local pastures should increase and more fallow land will become available. As this occurs, the hosting schools will identify a nearby urban school to adopt as a partner in the program. The industrially produced ground beef in the sister school will be replaced and students will be invited to participate in any related educational programs and internship opportunities.
In order to keep the net cost of this program for schools as close to zero as possible, the beef cuts, eggs and chickens not used in the school lunch programs are sold to local restaurants, stores and community supported agriculture programs. These organizations are asked to promote the NeighborHerd initiative and to invite their patrons to visit the local farms. Unsold food is donated to local food banks.
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