Growing Soil, Biodiversity, and Food with Grassfed Animals

Episode 136: Beth and Shawn Dougherty have been farming together for over thirty years and practice grass-based homesteading in Eastern Ohio. In this interview, Shawn and Beth explain how they use intensive pasture management on a small scale to increase soil fertility, regenerate land, and grow delicious, nutrient-dense food.

When the Dougherty’s first spotted the place that was to become their home, they weren’t impressed. It  was “in worse than bad shape” and had been deemed not suitable for agriculture by the state of Ohio. Using grass-based farming, they regenerated this neglected piece of land into a thriving independent homestead where they now grow 90% of their food.

In this interview, the Dougherty’s explain how to harness the power of the sun into grazing ruminants, how to choose the right animal for your property, (hint, let the land tell you), and the joys and challenges of homesteading with animals. They also talk the detrimental effects that “animal-free” agriculture has had on the world.

Shawn and Beth wanted to farm like their great grandparents did and often asked themselves, “How can this be more beautiful and appropriate?” By working with Nature and in partnership with farm animals, they discovered that contrary to modern agriculture (which depletes soil fertility), land farmed properly becomes more capable of supporting the life on it and grows in fertility, biodiversity, and health.

You can find the Dougherty’s new book,  The Independent Farmstead- Growing Soil, Biodiversity, and Nutrient Dense Food with Grassfed Animals and Intensive Pasture Management, online at Chelsea Green Publishing and at local bookstores.

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