Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm
Meet Lindsey and Nicklaus Forstbauer, farmers at Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm. Established in 1977, Forstbauer Farm ensures that land regeneration and increasing biodiversity are the first priority. Lindsey and Nicklaus use biodynamic farming principles, a method of farming that focuses on soil health and a holistic approach. At Forstbauer, they go above and beyond just growing good food without chemicals. Nicklaus stresses, “The land and ecosystems are the priority. The food coming out of that is just a byproduct.” Lindsey laughs and says, “Nicklaus’s mom always used to say that we have cows for the manure and the meat is the byproduct.” At their farm, they manage about 100 acres of land which they use for grazing animals, berry production, vegetable crops, and hay crops to feed their animals. Lindsey says, “We’re using what we have on the farm to create the conditions that we want to proliferate, so we follow the idea of being a closed system.” The Forstbauers truly go beyond organic farming. They support both good and bad pests and wildlife on their farm. Lindsey says, “We are preserving what we want to see rather than destroying what we don’t want to see.”
Biodynamic farming focuses heavily on the health of the farm and viewing the farm as a whole ecosystem, which results in higher yields and better quality food. In addition to biodynamic principles, they use a soil food web approach, which looks at the complexities of their soil and the different moving parts. To maintain healthy biological activity in their soil, they use compost and compost teas made on their farm. Although capturing carbon isn’t necessarily at the forefront of their goals, it is certainly a byproduct of their farming practices. “What we’re trying to do is mimic what nature would naturally do,” explains Niklaus. In healthy, natural ecosystems, the soil acts as a carbon sink full of organic matter. Taking care of the natural diversity on the farm, above and below ground, is an important carbon-capturing initiative on a farm.
When we asked the Forstbauer’s why it is important to support climate-friendly farmers, Lindsey answered, “It is possible to feed everyone and still use a holistic approach; the two are not mutually exclusive. I think a lot of the time, the message that is given is that we have to use these modern farming practices and replenish the land with chemical fertilizers, get rid of weeds with chemicals, and mono-crop thousands of acres in order to feed everyone, when in fact that’s not the case. It’s a fallacy to think you can’t feed the population of the world using holistic practices.” And, she stresses the importance of buying local. “When you support local farms more of your money is staying within your community and making it possible for people in your own community to survive and thrive. It’s always best to shop as close to home as possible and keep the food security here because when you’re growing food here and supporting local farmers, it keeps the capacity available so that farmland is protected and it’s something that governments look to protect as well.”