“Minimalism is not a lack of something. It’s simply the perfect amount of something.” This quote resonates deeply with South Dakota farmer Peggy Greenway. For the past 33 years, she’s focused on the right mix of sustainable practices to improve her family farm and the food she grows. It means a lot because we all have a special connection to food.
“Food is personal. So many of my favorite memories involve time spent at the dinner table,” said Peggy. “Food brings us together, fuels our bodies and encourages conversations. As a grandma, mom and farmer, I make it a priority to do the best I can to grow safe and healthy food for my family and yours.”
Farmers like Peggy continuously work to be more sustainable and reduce their impact on the land. For example, in the past 50 years pig farmers have reduced water usage by 41 percent, the amount of land used to raise their animals by 78 percent and overall carbon footprint by 35 percent. Farmers embrace technology by planting GMO seeds that allow them to use less pesticides and varied tillage practices to keep weeds and pests under control. Today, 63 percent of U.S. farmers practice conservation tillage.
Peggy’s focus on sustainability and using just the perfect amount of inputs works well for many aspects of their farm. Peggy and her husband Brad raise beef cattle and pigs they treat with antibiotics only when they’re sick. They use only as much as the veterinarians prescribe. They also house their pigs in temperature-controlled barns that protect them from the elements and extreme weather.
“We used to raise our pigs outdoors with portable shelters,” she explained. “It was a struggle to keep them comfortable. We weren’t happy with the conditions they lived in.”
In looking for ways to improve the situation for their animals, they sold their sow herd in 2006 and joined a farm cooperatively owned with other farmers and managed by a veterinary clinic. That same year they built their first modern pig barn and added a second one in 2013.
She says it is a pleasure doing chores now and seeing the pigs comfortable every day of the year. The barns utilize technology to adjust the ventilation system according to the temperature, making sure the pigs have a constant supply of fresh air. Computerized systems also grind feed at the onsite feed mill and keep the feeders full in the barns with feed formulated by a swine nutritionist.
“Farmers are consumers too. We’re committed to using safe practices and growing food sustainably with less resources because we live where we farm and feed our families the food we grow,” she said.
Read more about Peggy or ask her a question by leaving it in the comments below. Then enjoy making one of her favorite recipes.