At Otter Creek, healthy soils and healthy animals are our top priority—you cannot have one without the other.
Gary Zimmer is a pioneer of a special type of farming called ‘mineralized balanced agriculture,’ which has farmers growing their own fertilizers, learning which fertilizers are best for their farm, and using farming practices that encourage beneficial organisms living in the soil.
At Otter Creek Farm, this translates into a wide-range of innovative practices that produce high yields and healthy crops and animals.
Flame weeding is just such an innovation used at Otter Creek. Instead of using herbicides or multiple passes with a rotary hoe, the farmers use a custom-made flamer pulled behind their tractor. This burns the weeds, but leaves the corn relatively unscathed. So less herbicide use, and also less tractor fuel and tractor soil damage.
Nothing is wasted at Otter Creek Farm; nearly everything is produced and used on the farm itself, making the dairy a “closed herd.”
Pastures are seeded to provide a range of nutritional feed, and minerals are added to the soil to ensure the soil, plants and animals are all healthy, minimizing the need for pesticides or antibiotics.
Rotational grazing means that cows, then chickens, are released into a field to eat what they want, then rotated to a new pasture primed while the remaining grasses are harvested for hay. Hay is a feed source for the animals in the winter and waste products from the hay harvest are used as animal bedding. This bedding material is cleared out every week and turned into compost for plants. At Otter Creek, even the house was built from trees harvested from the land.
Protecting Otter Creek
To keep the creek healthy, we fence their cows and animals out of the water. This keeps manure and run-off away from Otter Creek and creates a healthy habitat for wildlife that depends on the special strip of land along rivers.
A healthy herd
As a result of our agricultural practices and extreme attention to the health and comfort of our cows, Otter Creek’s herd produces very high quality milk with low somatic cell counts and plate counts.
Our people matter
We are striving to create a lifetime team of employees on the farm. We are too big to do this alone, and are working with three families who live on the farm, plus a few other workers, to make a quality life for everyone involved. Please come meet them here.