Earth Heart Farms

79 acres

Property Owner:

Private non-farming landowner

Contact Name:

Vicki Rae Harder-Thorne

Property Location:

2659 S. Mud Creek Rd, Oak Harbor, Ohio 43449

The Land

Total number of acres available with this property:

78.9

Total acres available for agriculture:

75.0

Acres of forested land:

0.0

Acres of cropland or tillable land:

75.0

Acres of pasture:

0.0

Other open and/or non-farmable land:

4-5 acres has a pond and tends to be wet

Quality of land:

Property not plowed for about 30 years; about half the land qualifies to certify organic now, another quadrant will qualify in 2022, and the final quadrant in 2023 - the only chemical treatment over the past 4 years has been Tordon painted on cut dogwood and honey locust. Land is level, primarily Toledo clay, planted in native warm-season prairie grasses throughout. Cover is open grassland, with some patches of woody bushes and/or small (<1”) trees saplings. Native grasses and forbs, sedges and reeds are predominate; some invasive plants have sprung up over the past 3 years. An area on the northwest corner along Mud Creek was diked to create a small wetland area. Just east of the wetland, along the northern boundary, is a low-lying area that lays wet and is unsuitable for machinery or heavy livestock. The property is bordered by Mud Creek at the northwest corner, sits approximate to the Little Portage River at the northeast corner, and has an open drainage ditch along 2/3 of the southern boundary.

Farm Information

Water sources present:

Available

Water sources details:

Well; pond; drainage ditch and creek.

Barns and sheds:

Available

Farmer housing:

None available

Farmer housing details:

Rentals nearby

Equipment and machinery:

None available

Farm infrastructure details:

Limited access to barn that was built in 1884; very well-maintained.

Tenure Arrangement

Tenure arrangement:

Property for rent

Other

Property for rent:

Rental of partial or full property; transitioning from CRP to regenerative agriculture, starting with clover and hay. Land not plowed for about 30 years. Looking to build relationship(s) with producers who are willing to discuss a broader, long-term vision (I have a list of possibilities!!) with short-term lease, long-term lease, lease-to-own.

Additional Information

I'm a 5th generation landholder who has never farmed. My great-grandfather homesteaded land that he inherited from his father-in-law in 1883. My grandfather continued farming the land, and believed that chemicals and agri-business were damaging to soil and all living beings. He tasted the dirt to know what he needed as cover or the next rotation. He paid crop-dusters to fly over and NOT spray to appease the neighbors who complained about his weeds. He felt humans were greedy – used too much land for crops, didn’t account for the wildlife that depended on it. One of his wishes was to return the land to its native habitat.

My mother ran with that wish, and my folks spent the next 27 years in CRP, actively transforming the farm to native grassland with a small wetland located at the bottom. The land was also used by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) as a prime spot to observe ground-nesting birds, for banding bluebirds and bald eagles (mom was part of the 10-year restoration program), identifying frogs and butterflies, and a living example of how grassland restoration works. With near-daily diligence, the loosestrife, teasel and other thistles were under control; the land lush native grasses, forbs, sedges – and along the creek, the old red oaks still drop copious amounts of acorns that grow like weeds.

Mom died on July 29th. Because the CRP contract was in her name only, we had the ability to opt-out 8 years early without penalty – and we did. I’d read Dirt to Soil in 2019, which inspired me to discover whether and how we could introduce cash crops into the grassland. I hired a farm planner to find the best next step for the evolution of the land. While he originally saw grazing and grains, the best first step to transition is sustainable hay production with a conservation area near the pond.

My bigger vision includes a conservation-agriculture partnership with the land. I see multiple crops – perhaps strips of prairie plants, heritage grains, food and fiber hemp; animals grazing; growing trees (because the land already does that!); conservation programs; possibly a model farm for regenerative practices, on-site research, watershed protection. There are other possibilities, and having a producer that can share in it would be wonderful.

I live out of state; my dad still lives on residential property adjacent to the land, and could be a resource.