With such good quality soil being built up from his pasture-raised pigs and broiler chickens, Semmelink took an opportunity to start growing vegetables on his farm for additional profit. He adds that growing vegetable crops with livestock go hand in hand. He says, “I have a rotation where I can grow grass, I can grow grain, I can grow vegetables, I can have animals, rotating them all around and they all feed into each other and create markets for each other so I can have a diverse portfolio of commodities I can sell, as well as building soil for different feed and crops.” With different pastures of pigs, broiler chickens, fields of crops, grain, flowers, Lentelus Farms is a beautifully mixed space for regeneration and healthy diversity. The entire area is thoughtfully farmed, with the future in mind. Semmelink adds, “To me, regenerative agriculture means farming holistically and looking at the whole farm picture, looking at all of your inputs and looking at what you can do yourself.”
Rotating animals, especially with crops, is beneficial for the plants, animals, and the farmer. Semmelink explains, “All of our animals, we try to keep them outdoors and we try to move them frequently to build soil instead of degrading the soil. The practice of using animals to build healthy soil reduces the need for fertilizer inputs. Semmelink says, “Instead of adding fertilizer every year to our pastures, we move our animals frequently, distributing manure all over the place and the grass has a better chance of re-growing and absorbing more carbon out of the atmosphere putting that into their root systems and building a healthier grass ecosystem that our animals can then graze more frequently. We’re reducing our input costs, and it’s a benefit to the environment being able to store more carbon in the soil.” How the poultry is managed provides an excellent example of how this works. “Our broiler chicks right now are on our brassica field for next year, moving them every few days to fresh cover crop, a specific cover crop for them to target and eat, things like oats and peas, etc. so they’re moving along, leaving their manure behind, adding nutrients to the soil, and then producing a crop of meat.” Semmelink continues, “ And then next year we have our fertility already built up to produce a lot of vegetables on that land.”
Although Lentelus Farms is a farm for meat production, Semmelink is not one to recommend a heavily meat-based diet. He is the first to say, “I don’t think we need to live off of meat all the time. Eating quality meat, it’s enjoyable, you get a lot more out of it, it’s nutrient-dense, and packed full of good things. It’s about knowing where your meat comes from, savouring every bite and thinking about how it was raised is important. Getting to know your farmer and your meat will automatically reduce the amount of meat people are eating because you don’t need to eat as much meat when it’s really high quality.” The quality of meat at Lentelus farms is attributed to the climate-friendly practices Semmelink works at maintaining every year. All of these practices are mutually beneficial to both the environment and the sustainability of Lentelus Farms.