Partners & Resources
Cows for Clean Water Partnerships
Crow Wing River Basin Forage Council
A decade ago, Happy Dancing Turtle started its Cows for Clean Water initiative, with the intent to build broad support for livestock managed in a way that improves pasture condition and protects our water resources. One way we do this is by supporting the Crow Wing River Basin Forage Council (Forage Council) in its efforts to promote grazing stewardship.
The Forage Council was started over two decades ago by members of the Leader Lions Club who raised cattle and lake association members who lived downstream. They were connecting to better understand the impacts of farming on water quality and, most importantly, what it takes to grow food in a way that protects water quality. This partnership, now officially a network group of the Sustainable Farming Association of MN, has been hosting field days and annual winter workshops ever since.
One of the best venues to do this work is through farm tours and events that support farmer-to-farmer networking and broader community engagement. We work with the Pine River Watershed Alliance to raise awareness of agricultural conservation among lake associations and water quality advocates. Understanding the challenges farmers and ranchers face in meeting water quality goals while maintaining a viable farm business is a vital message we bring to this audience.
We furthermore encourage all water quality advocates to make meat choices that support their ideals.
In partnership with the University of Wisconsin, the Pine River watershed has been selected as a Grassland 2.0 Learning Hub to further community engagement in support of perennial working lands. One thing this program brings is modeling tools to better understand the agricultural challenges we face as a community and the opportunities we have to address them.
Up the Creek Meats
Development of local supply chains is also part of our work. Up the Creek Meats is a marketing effort led by the Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates. The goal is to help lake associations in the Pine River Watershed to connect farmers and ranchers with consumers. By participating in Up the Creek Meats, lake associations are not only taking direct action to improve water quality on the lake they love, but also helping to build a new local food market that protects the water quality and quality of life in their community, and providing the highest quality meats for their members.
Other CFCW Resources
SFA - Silvopasture/ Agroforestry - Resource & Partner
Grazing System Planning Guide - Useful resource for developing a livestock feeding program. Information in this booklet covers necessary resources, paddock and fence design, weed control, and other issues.
We have shared work with the following organizations.
Dirt Rich - Sustainable Farming Association
Ear to the Ground - Long running podcast from the Land Stewardship Project\
Down to Earth and Regeneration Rising - Quivira Coalition
Soil Carbon Cowboys - film “paddocks” featuring real life farmers and ranchers restoring carbon to the soil
Symphony of the Soil is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance soil. By understanding the elaborate relationships between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants, and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource.
Chelsea Green Publishing - a great employee-owned publishing company with thousands of relevant titles.
Soil Health Partners & Resources
Sustainable Farming Association of MN - Resource & Partner
The SFA of MN advances environmental stewardship, economic resilience, and strong, diverse communities through farmer-to-farmer networking, education, demonstration, and research.
They are leaders in the soil health movement.
MN Soil Health Coalition - Resource
The MN Soil Health Coalition is an organization that is dedicated to producer driven education, outreach and adoption utilizing information exchange to promote the principles of soil health.
Natural Resources Conservation Service - Resource & Partner
The Natural Resources Conservation Service provides farmers and ranchers with financial and technical assistance with the goal of helping the environment and agricultural operations, as well. They are also a great source for information on soil health.