2017 Field Trips

2017 Pre-conference Field Trips

Thursday, January 26, 2017 • 12:30 – 5:00 p.m.

For those who learn best by seeing other farms, we have six excellent field trips for you to choose from. If you didn’t get signed up in time for the field trip of your choice last year, we’re bringing back the three most popular field trips. We also have three new exciting field trips this year. Don’t miss the bus!

  1. Feeding Students: A Collegiate Ag Program Nourishing Mind and Body
  2. Permanent Culture: Creating a Commercial Permaculture Farm
  3. Fertile Land: Growing Organic Vegetables and High Yield Soil
  4. Veggies and Herbs: Ways to Extend Season, Control Pests, and Grow a Superior Product
  5. Work Smarter: Equipment, Machines and Structures for Increasing Efficiency
  6. Full Circle: Building a Food System from Field to Freezer

Field trip participants will travel on chartered buses provided by Southern SAWG. No private vehicles permitted. All field trip buses will depart from outside the Vine Street entrance of the Lexington Convention Center at 12:30 p.m. sharp! No refunds will be provided to those who miss their ride. The field trip registration fee includes a light snack.

Please be mindful of the potential to spread serious animal and plant pathogens on footwear and clothing. We respectfully ask that you clean farm boots and clothing before climbing aboard to visit these farms.

Space is limited, so register early. Pre-registration is strongly recommended.

Please note that these field trips are being offered at the same time as the mini courses.

Field Trip #1

Feeding Students: A Collegiate Ag Program Nourishing Mind and Body

Berea College Farm and Farm Store
People to Know: Sean Clark

Berea College Farm.jpg

What does it look like to train students in agriculture from seed to store? Have you wondered how an institution might transition to using locally sourced products? What does it take to build a commercial processing facility to supply that institution? How many acres of corn do you need to feed hungry college students?

The Berea College Farm is one of the oldest continuously operating student educational farms in the United States. Its enterprises currently include beef cattle, hogs, poultry, goats, field crops, horticultural crops, honey bees, and aquaculture. Much of the cropland is USDA certified organic and the farm maintains animal-welfare certifications on several of the livestock enterprises. In 2013 the college opened a campus farm store in a renovated building located on the edge of campus, adjacent to farm. It’s equipped with a kitchen and meat-processing room and offers foods produced by students working on the farm as well as products from nearby farms and small businesses in the central Appalachian Region and throughout Kentucky. The farm also regularly supplies pork, beef, eggs and fresh produce to the campus dining hall.

Field Trip #2

Permanent Culture: Creating a Commercial Permaculture Farm

Salamander Springs Farm
People to Know: Susana Lein

Want to grow for market without outside resources or petroleum-based inputs? To grow no-till crops without herbicides or mechanization? To make degraded land fertile & productive? Can one live entirely off the grid and make a living using permaculture? What is permaculture?

An excellent opportunity for those interested in seeing permaculture in practice, Salamander Springs Farm is quite different from most farms. Featured in the internationally-acclaimed 2015 permaculture documentary film, "INHABIT," Susana Lein is a pioneer in farm-scale permaculture. Built from scratch with local materials, the farm operates totally off-grid with few outside inputs, gravity-feed spring water, small solar electric system, and a passive-solar tiny house. Lein's grain and dry bean fields use a no-till system of continuous cover plus poultry forage, inspired by the late Japanese rice farmer, Masanobu Fukuoka. "3-Sisters" cornfields also produce pole beans and winter squash, a system learned during her eight years in Latin America. Learn permaculture practices used to transform extremely poor non-agricultural land into healthy, high-yielding soil, including contour swales, intensively-cropped beds and Hugelkultur practices. Salamander Springs Farm produces a wide range of vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs, forest foods and flowers for local farmers’ markets, local and online stores and her CSA. See farm website and photo site for more info. (This field trip heads to the beautiful Appalachian foothills, one hour travel time each way.)

Field Trip #3

Fertile Land: Growing Organic Vegetables and High Yield Soil

Elmwood Stock Farm — Vegetables
People to Know: Ann Bell Stone and John Bell


Have you considered transitioning to organic? Do you wonder what it takes to have a 400+ member organic vegetable CSA while participating in multiple farmers markets and various sales outlets? Are you concerned about maintaining soil fertility while meeting a demanding market? This field trip focuses on vegetable production at Elmwood Stock Farm.

This family farm consists of 550 acres of prime certified organic bluegrass land. Elmwood sells their vegetables, grass-fed beef, lamb, poultry, and eggs through a CSA and at local farmers markets. They use advanced rotational practices, rotating vegetables, animals, and fallow fields, to grow the soil and develop critical mycorrhizae. After decades of production, Elmwood Stock Farms continues to increase soil fertility and quality. Learn all about their vegetable production and how it fits into their whole farm system. See their packing shed, market vehicles, farm equipment, high tunnels and greenhouse. Not only can the knowledgeable farmers at Elmwood talk about production, they have vast knowledge about how to market their products. Find out how they optimize harvests and produce selection for maximum desirability at specific sales outlet. Learn about using an integrated technological approach to manage a customer database and inventory tracking system.

Field Trip #4

Veggies and Herbs: Ways to Extend Season, Control Pests, and Grow a Superior Product

Henkle’s Herbs and Heirlooms
People to Know: Mark and Velvet Henkle

henkles tomatoes.jpg

How do you grow tomatoes in the snow? Can you really use beneficial insects on a commercial scale? Have you considered building a greenhouse to expand your direct market and wholesale operations but had too many unanswered questions?

After having worked for the renowned, Bill Best of Berea College, Mark Henkle and his wife Velvet set out on their own in 2006. Their farm, Henkle's Herbs and Heirlooms, specializes in heirloom and hybrid vegetables and herb production. Onsite you will find a greenhouse heated with a wood-fired boiler, two high tunnels (one of which features ridgevents and other innovations), and a commercial catering kitchen used to preserve and diversify the operation. Learn how they use these amenities to make their operation resilient, discover which beneficial insects they use to target pests, and find out how—from plant start to final product—customer service is paramount in developing direct market and restaurant sales.

Field Trip #5

Work Smarter: Equipment, Machines, and Structures for Increasing Efficiency

University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, South Farm
People to Know: Steve Diver and Mark Williams


Are you looking for tractor-based farm machines to maximize efficiency and profit? Are you interested in seeing that newfangled farm implement in action? Do you like modifying farm equipment to meet your operational needs? Are you interested in seeing what tractors are appropriate for what equipment? Have you ever considered building movable high tunnels to extend the season and increase fertility?

This research farm has over 30 acres of certified organic farmland, an onsite machine shop, and many tractors with a wide variety of implements for advanced sustainable production — cultivators galore, planters, 3-point hitch farm hacks, and much more. Join this field trip to get a firsthand look at this equipment and learn how it is used. See old tractors modified to fit new equipment. Study the mechanism on their tractor-pulled movable high tunnels. Plus, learn the usages for walk-behind equipment that is especially good for use in high tunnels. Soil conditions allowing, demonstrations of equipment will be provided.

Field Trip #6

Full Circle: Building a Food System from Field to Freezer

Four Hills Farm and Marksbury Farm Market
People to Know: Jim Mansfield, John-Mark Hack, Preston Correll, and Cliff Swaim

  Summer time and the grazing is easy at Four Hills Farm.

  Summer time and the grazing is easy at Four Hills Farm.

How do I start a year-round livestock operation? Is a rotational grazing system right for me? Which sheep should I pick for my farming operation? How can I get my product to market? What do I need to develop a local USDA inspected facility to improve my community?

Marksbury Farm Market processing facility.

Marksbury Farm Market processing facility.

Four Hills Farm is located in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. The farm was started by Jim Mansfield in the late 1990s and focused on cattle until transitioning to Katahdin sheep in 2005. This heritage hair breed thrives in the year-round rotational grazing pasture system that the farm uses. Four Hills Farm raises market lambs. They have developed a supply chain that allows them to sell fresh lamb 52 weeks of the year, which is processed at Marksbury Farm Market (stop#2 of this field trip). Four Hills Farm’s primary customers are national and local grocery stores, with restaurant and direct sales making up a smaller part of our business. Learn about year-round lamb production, implementing a rotational grazing system, and the challenges and opportunities of entering the wholesale marketplace.

Marksbury Farm Market is a small scale butcher and processing facility. The facility opened its doors in 2010 with a 12,000-square-foot, USDA-inspected meat processing and distribution facility provides services that enable dozens of independent farmers to offer their own meat products to consumers through farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSAs), and other direct marketing outlets. Artisan processing, state of the art packaging and uncompromising food safety standards are paramount to Markbury’s operation. In 2015 they launched an onsite quick-service restaurant called Pasture. Learn about the obstacles that they faced in opening the facility, solutions to on-going operational challenges, and see their business’s continuing impact on the community.