A new season of growth on the farm

April 5, 2021

Along with Spring arrives abundant growth at Williamson Preserve! Visitors to the preserve will notice a flurry of activity as new farm projects break ground. As our dynamic community of farmers at the preserve grows, keep an eye out for new faces and exciting collaborations.

There are also plenty of new happenings with our established farm partners, Newbold Farms and Leaf & Limb. Jake and Catherine Newbold, our talented regenerative cattle farmers, continue to innovate and expand. Over the winter, they complemented their existing rotational grazing strategies with cover cropping, aiming to improve soil health in their fields.

Newbold Farms’ climate responsive strategies take center stage in the Duke University Bass Connections project “Regenerative Grazing to Mitigate Climate Change”, which seeks to understand and scale cattle farming practices that contribute to carbon sequestration. We are also excited that Newbold Farms continues to work closely with our partners at Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District on cover crop grants and with NC Choices, an initiative through the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.

We are so grateful to all of our partners and their continued support of our farmers! And finally, the herd continues to grow at Newbold Farms! You can expect lots of cute cow content this spring as we welcome calves to the world.

Likewise, Leaf & Limb continues to build out their native tree nursery on the preserve, with exciting developments on the horizon. You can expect to see some big changes just off the Two Pond Loop Trail in the coming months as we install a keyline water management system in the Chickasaw Plum Field.

In consultation with Mark Shepard, an expert on water in regenerative agriculture systems, TLC and Leaf & Limb are installing a series of interlocking channels in the field to improve water efficiency in this emerging agroforestry system.

In spreading and storing rainwater across landscapes, keyline systems minimize the need for carbon-intensive irrigation. Additionally, keyline water management mitigates both flood and drought risk in agroforestry systems, making it an important tool in shoring up climate change resilience.

This spring has also brought new and strengthened partnerships to the preserve. In particular, TLC is thrilled to deepen its partnership with Knightdale High School at Williamson Preserve through an inaugural KHS internship. We’ve been lucky enough to work with Yvonne Mbugua, an exceptional senior in the Environmental Studies Academy, on a number of projects including soil testing, wildlife monitoring, and social media engagement this semester.

Yvonne is doing great work in engaging KHS teachers and her peers around land conservation and TLC’s activities at the Williamson Preserve, championing our goal of connecting young people with nature. Especially at a time when in-person programming is limited, we’re so thankful to have Yvonne’s insight and energy to inspire our engagement efforts at the preserve. There’s plenty more to come with this exciting partnership – stay tuned!

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