Roberts Ranch was donated to the YMCA by Bob Roberts of Comfort, TX in the 1990’s. Since then it has served as a place where families and children can gather to explore the outdoors in a beautiful Hill Country setting. The pristine habitat, native plants, and wildlife make the ranch the perfect laboratory for learning about and exploring nature. The property has served hundreds of children through outdoor education program sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife and hosts conservation and stewardship workshops, hiking, tours, and environmental education field trips for youth and adults.

The Roberts Ranch has always been a working cattle ranch as well. In 2019, cattle were removed from the ranch in order to let the land rest and to undertake various restoration projects that include brush clearing, cross-fence repair, and riparian restoration. Cattle will be reintroduced in 2022.

Click here to read the full story.

Texastopia is located outside of Blanco, TX along the Blanco River. It is the property of Pete Van Dyke and his wife Elenor Goode. Pete owns Van Dyke Earthworks & Design, a permaculture consulting business. They started managing a 10 acre Bermuda grass pasture on the homestead in 2017. Prior to their arrival it had been used to propagate coastal hay for 30 plus years. The soil was very hard and compacted. It is their intention to regenerate this pasture using various permaculture strategies to decrease compaction, improve soil health, and increase above and below ground biodiversity. Additionally, they plan to incorporate silvopasture practices that includes livestock grazing.

In the fall of 2017 they used the subsoil ripper to help relieve the compaction, without disturbing too much of the ground cover. A subsoil ripper creates thin rips in the ground at various depth on contour to relieve compaction and allow moisture to penetrate the soil. The first time using the ripper they were only able to get down about 6 inches due to the heavy compaction from the disturbance caused by years of hay farming. They then broadcast cover crop seeds into the slightly disturbed soil. Their first year of cool season cover crops in 2017 did not do that well. The Bermuda grass was still thick so a lot of the cover crop seeds did not germinate. Also the deer pressure was high which further reduced germination. Two transects have been created in the field as described below.

Click here to read the full story.

Located Center Point, Texas in East Kerr County, Zanzenberg Farm specializes in raising heritage breed pigs on pasture. Much like heirloom vegetables, heritage breeds were very common on the American homestead centuries ago. Farm owners Justin and Kayte Graham take extra care to raise these animals on open pastures where they are free to breathe in fresh air, take in the natural sunlight, root in the nutrient rich soil and enjoy daily mud baths. The hogs are humanely raised and finished on whey. Their pork is sold at three different farmers markets in Central Texas. Their products are corn, soy, antibiotic, and hormone free. Zanzenberg Farm practices holistic management principles such as intensive planned grazing as well as innovating new management strategies that optimize soil health.

Click here to read the full story.

Dr. Chris Grotegut is a veterinarian, farmer, and stockman in Hereford, located in Deaf Smith County in the Texas Panhandle. Hereford has a rich agricultural heritage and economy built on the waters of Ogallala Aquifer. But this aquifer has been in perilous decline over the past hundred years as more and more land has been plowed for row cropping and turned into feedlots for thirsty cattle. Aquifer decline is a serious threat to the longevity of many producers in the Texas Panhandle. Chris is taking steps on his land to replenish the aquifer, and he freely shares his lessons learned along the way. 

Chris is the cutting edge producer/owner of an 11,000 acre farm named Tierra de Esperanza that produces organic crops and livestock. In recent years he has transitioned the family operation toward more efficient uses of water, labor, and equipment by returning much of his cropland back to native grass pastures. He plants winter crops over dormant grasses in years with favorable moisture, minimizes irrigation, and takes measures to protect his playas, which are the clay basins in his fields and pastures that infiltrate water very slowly to refill the aquifer below.

Click here to read the full story.

Ward Whitworth and his family have lived in the far western end of the Texas Hill Country near London, Texas for many generations. Today Ward and his wife Barbara manage multiple properties. The Whitworths are diversifying their operation by running multiple species of livestock together as one herd. They like the convenience and the challenge of running the stock together. It allows them to plan for longer recovery periods for their pastures while increasing the utilization of the forages available. Stocking rates have fluctuated as a result of Ward’s learning and monitoring process to lengthen recovery periods following two years of hot, dry weather. The Whitworths are intent on rebuilding a healthy complex of high succession perennial native grass species which is proving to be successful.

Click here to read the full story.

TerraPurezza was founded by Tina and Orion Weldon in Spicewood, TX in 2015. It has grown to over 1500 acres of native Texas prairie on multiple campuses including the Shield Ranch on Austin’s Barton Creek and Willie Nelson’s Luck Ranch in Spicewood, TX. With backgrounds in nutrition, agriculture, and conservation ecology, the TerraPurezza power couple applies multiple approaches to rejuvenate the land for a more resilient food system. 

TerraPurezza partnered with the Shield Ranch in 2019. Stewarding and protecting the Hill Country ecosystem is the sole purpose of the Shield Ranch. The TerraPurezza-Shield Ranch partnership focuses on producing nutrient-dense food while managing the ranch’s natural resources through rehabilitating soil health, rebuilding native grasslands, and restoring natural water cycles. TerraPurezza manages 65-acres of the 6,800-acre Shield Ranch with adaptive high-density multi-species livestock grazing, which includes pigs, sheep, and poultry.

Click here to read the full story.

The Stowers Ranch was established in 1904 by prominent Texas merchant and rancher George Arthur Stowers. The 11,800 acre operation is located at the headwaters of the North Fork of the Guadalupe River near Hunt, Texas. It is enhanced by over two miles of riverfront and a large beautiful natural lake. Today the Smith family, direct descendants of George Stowers, own and operate the ranch for livestock, hunting, and recreation.

The Smiths chose a small area of the ranch to try something new without major risk. Two transects have been established in a small 30 acre pasture at the Stowers Ranch. This pasture was divided further with temporary electric fencing to create one 18 acre and one 13 acre paddock. 250 head were allowed to graze in each paddock for eight and 12 hours. Grazing this size of a heard in these relatively small paddocks is a demonstration of high stock density for a short duration of time. One pasture will be rested for six months and the other will be rested for one year.

Click here to read the full story.

Katie Forrest and Taylor Collins’ journey to becoming ranchers began in an unusual way. They first developed the nationally marketed EPIC Bar, a jerky based protein bar; then sold their company and followed an inspiration to begin livestock production as a way to improve the environment. Located in the heart of the majestic Hill Country, ROAM Ranch sits on 900 acres of awe inspiring river bottom land on the outskirts of Fredericksburg, TX. Katie and Taylor shared a vision to positively impact large-scale agriculture through producing nourishing food that improves the lives of animals, enriches the health of consumers, and regenerates the land on which we depend. Like much of the world, this once-fertile region has been industrially farmed for the past 100 years. 

Click here to read the full story.

Nestled in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, in Comal County, Pure Pastures is a 2,000-acre multi-species operation that practices 100% regenerative management. Pure Pastures is a collaboration between the Moorman family, the ranch owners and partners in the business, and the Eubank family, the operations managers and business partners.

Lew Moorman was introduced to regenerative agriculture after experiencing health concerns in his family. He realized that the food system needed changing, from the soil up, to improve people’s health. In 2018 Lew set out on a mission to regenerate the food system beginning with improving soil health on his ranch near Canyon Lake, TX. He partnered with Maggie and Jeremiah to develop their business Pure Pastures.

Click here to read the whole story.

The Montesino Ranch not only borders the Blanco River, it also sits just outside of Wimberley, Texas, a popular destination for tourists. Montesino is a small 225 acre ranch that thrives via a multi-enterprise management approach. Income enterprises include weddings, B&B studio rentals, a small organic vegetable farm, and a herd of miniature Hereford Cattle.

The livestock enterprise is composed of a herd of 15 miniature Hereford cattle. They are a good match for Montesino due to the size of the ranch. They are intriguing to curious tourists and they consume less forage than an average 1000 lb cow. They also convert well to packaged beef that is sold directly to consumers.

Click here to continue reading this story.