This Is the First Farm in the Pacific Northwest to Be Animal Welfare Approved
By Lauren Turner
April Joy Farm is also the first Clark County farm to be approved by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries to offer an apprenticeship program to train aspiring farmers.
The aptly named, 24-acre April Joy Farm, near Ridgefield, Washington, has its bases covered when it comes to bringing joy to the art of farming. Farmers April and Brad Thatcher's motto is "Good food grown with love."
April grew up in Ridgefield, near Annie and Pete Peterson, the owners of what would later become April Joy Farm. In fact, April spent many happy childhood days helping with chores there, and she fell in love with their land. Even though April earned her college degree in engineering and worked for several years in that field, she never imagined that she would become a farmer. But in 2003, the Peterson farm became available and, with her parents' help, April was able to purchase the farm and become its steward.
Brad with the "kindly king of the barnyard", Dashing the rooster. April Joy Farm
When April started, established markets for producers were lacking, so she connected with chefs, grocers and families. She designed and built infrastructure. There were two existing barns, but no fencing, irrigation, packing shed, greenhouses or appropriately sized machinery and equipment. "I had to develop a viable business model from scratch and convince my community that farming is a professional career," she said. April produced her first crops in 2008.
April met Brad in 2011, they were married in 2012, and he joined her in the farming venture. "I'm the nuts-and-bolts project manager who can pull many ideas together to create a process or strategy," she said. "Brad takes those raw systems and applies controls and refinements to make things flow. His expertise has significantly improved the profitability of the farm."
The produce at April Joy Farm is 100 percent certified organic by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. The farm runs a community-supported agriculture program for about 60 families, and members sometimes donate their shares to needy families. Additionally, the farm partners with its school family resources center to distribute produce when there are abundant harvests.
April and Brad also take humane farming to a whole new level, claiming to have a deep and reverential partnership with their livestock. April Joy Farm is the first farm in the Pacific Northwest to become Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), and their farm animals have names and specific roles on the farm. For instance, their pig, Rosie, is considered the matriarch on the farm. She has been the consummate mother to many piglets over the years.
April Joy Farm is the first Clark County farm to be approved by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries to offer an apprenticeship program to train aspiring farmers. Its first intern will launch her farm business next spring, and a second intern is working on a business plan. "It's a joy to see these 'seeds' germinating," said April.
April Joy Farm boasts a long list of community partnerships and continually seeks grants to help improve the health and sustainability of the farm. The farm was awarded a National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Salmon-Safe grant to install a four-bay Aerated Static Pile composting facility that uses forced air to control the heat of the compost piles to process organic materials more efficiently. A solar array installed with a Rural Energy for America Program grant produces 50 to 60 percent of energy needs on the farm. The farm has done numerous cost-sharing projects with the NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), planting native plant buffers of bird-sheltering trees and water-filtering shrubs. You can hear the passion in April's voice when she speaks about projects that improve and protect the soil—"the most vital component of farming," she said—as well as those that provide diverse pollinator habitats dispersed among their crops, advocate for animal welfare, and educate others on the perils of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The farm is also planting orchards adjacent to their pigs' pastures so that they can forage through the pastures.
April and Brad Thatcher are committed to the ecological health of their soil, animals and community. With their unique model, they hope to spread the joy of the art of farming.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
Britain's Prince William interviewed famed broadcaster David Attenborough on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Switzerland.
During the sit-down, the 92-year-old naturalist advised the world leaders and business elite gathered in Davos this week that we must respect and protect the natural world, adding that the future of its survival—as well as humanity's survival—is in our hands.
What's more, the accounting firm predicts that another 21 million electric cars will be on the road globally over the next decade due to growing market demand for clean transportation, government subsidies, as well as bans on fossil fuel cars.
By Matthew Savoca
Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.
Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.
"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"
Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.
The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.
Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.
Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.
By Andrea Germanos
Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.
By Patrick Rogers
If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.