Throughout this series, we have featured a lot of large scale commercial farming operations, but soil health is just as important to farms that operate on smaller acreages as well. Mike Lewis is a farmer, military veteran, and the senior manager for the National Center for Appropriate Technologies. Mike farms in southeastern Kentucky on a small farm in the western foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. His farm consists of 126 acres, 12 of which he uses to grow fresh market vegetables and the other 114 is a forest-based pasture system where he raises cattle, pastured pork and pastured poultry.
“For me, soil health is the most critical thing to the success of our operation… One of Wendell Berry’s quotes is, “What I stand for is what I stand on.” And I think that soil is what we all stand on. And it’s the foundation for all life and sustenance on this planet. So there’s nothing more important than healthy soils.” – Mike Lewis
As the senior manager in the sustainable agriculture and rural communities division of NCAT Mike focuses on building resilient communities and supporting farmers in sustainable production systems. The Armed to Farm and Soil For Water programs are two of the many programs he contributes to. Mike also opens up his own family farm to other producers to demonstrate some of the soil health principles he has incorporated on his operation.
“I think that one of the things that we’re really focused on is being able to have a place where we can show other producers other alternatives to production, right?
We open our farm up three or four times a year for other producers to come on and look at our hog production system and to learn how we’ve reduced our feed inputs by timing of our farrowing and our pasture management skills.” – Mike Lewis