Pasque Flower Farm
Remnant & Planted Prairie Wetland Cropland Oak Savanna
We bought our 80-acre farm in 1985 adding an additional 80 acres over the next ten years. The farm’s name was selected because we had a large population of Pasque flowers on the northern slope of the back ridge. We had no idea at the time that this ridge was a remnant prairie, but with generous help we eventually identified 42 native prairie and wetland species on the 160 acre property.
We were fortunate enough to meet neighbors who own nearby Prairiehill Farm and were knowledgeable about all things in nature and willing to share their knowledge with us. That friendship changed our approach to our land.
We began our stewardship efforts by removing hundreds of red cedar trees from the back hill that had encroached on the native prairie. At that time we began thinking about the land as an ecosystem and defining how to best manage our property.
We knew we did not want the land to be subdivided into small lots, so over the next few years we taught ourselves about conservation easements and eventually put approximately 140 acres into a conservation easement making a one-time supportive contribution to have the land annually monitored into perpetuity by an Accredited Land Trust.
We knew we were hearing fewer and fewer frog calls from the wetland and feared it was because of the conventional farming practices being used on our land. We decided to begin the transition to organic farming with the help of NRCS. We were able to find a young farmer who was willing to farm our land through the three-year transition and now farms it organically using sustainable farming practices that improve the soils and native species habitat.
We had much to learn so we joined organizations and made friends with people who knew about prairies, wetlands, insect and animal species. We applied for grants to help pollinators, participated in citizen science activities and tried to support native species through stewardship activities such as prescribed burning, mowing, cover cropping, digging, pulling and planting and other non-chemical interventions.
We have taken advantage of grant opportunities to help with stewardship activities to remove woody invasive plants in the wetland; to support the natural sedges, grasses, bottle gentian, and blue flag iris; and to plant high-value pollinator plant corms as well as seeding-in a small mesic section of prairie.
We are pleased to have organic status for our farm thereby increasing soil health; to support native plant species, insects, amphibians, and birds and to have planted a diverse prairie on what was once 40 acres of corn monoculture.
At the end of the day we recognize our good fortune and appreciate the many people and organizations trying to protect land and all of nature’s creatures. That is why we are a part of the 'conservation sellers' effort to encourage sustainable land conservation practices through the generations by connecting sellers and buyers who care about the land.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR OUR PROPERTY?
Owning and being good stewards of the land is perpetual hard work. Our land will go to our four children. At present we are considering how to create an endowment that will help them with management efforts on the farm over time.