Earthworms? Number one? Absolutely. Successful free-range farming starts with healthy soils, and earthworms are our biggest (or tiniest, as the case may be) allies. Earthworms tunnel through the soil, softening it, making it easier for rain to soak in, and plant roots to spread. Some earthworms live deep below the ground, bringing hidden minerals to the top during their nighttime visits. Others remain near the surface, slowly eating and churning decaying leaves and dead grass like cake batter in a mixing bowl. Together, they enhance all aspects of the soil, eating, digging and pooping their way through the complex eco-system we call ‘dirt.’
2) Year-Round Grass
Nothing sounds as exciting as… watching the grass grow. But for a free-range farm, it’s of vital importance. By keeping grass in front of our animals year round, we grow food that requires virtually zero human or mechanical energy. Furthermore, by giving the grass the proper time it needs to flourish and recuperate, we build root strength, create deeper soils, retain critical moisture, and improve habitat for our earthworm buddies.
Which takes us back to our college student. “Wow,” he replied, when I was finished. “That is not what I thought you were going to say. In fact, that’s not even remotely similar to what any other farmers have said so far.”