Conservation district to hold field day

The Elk County Conservation District will be hosting a Northwest Project Grass Grazing Field Day on Wednesday, July 13 at Sugar Hill Farm in St. Marys. The upcoming field day is the first such event to be held by the conservation district. Conservation District Chairman Russ Braun explained that the idea for the event was suggested to the group by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Commission (NRCS). "These field days are held as the occasion occurs. Sugar Hill just finished up three to four years of work on their grazing operation and it was appropriate at this time to have the field day and share the info," Braun said. According to information provided on the district's brochure for the field day, "Sugar Hill Farm is a 200-acre certified organic farm" that raises strictly grass-fed "Scottish Highland beef cattle, along with some pastured poultry." Braun also noted that pasture field days such as the event at Sugar Hill Farm are currently taking place all over the state. "More and more livestock producers are turning to grass-based systems and allowing the animals to do the harvesting. [Such a system] reduces costs, saves time, improves on farm income, reduces erosion, [and] also [offers] health benefits as compared to traditional baling," Braun said.While the upcoming field day is open to anyone interested, Braun indicated that the target audience is cattle producers and farmers. "There are a lot of small, part-time cattle farmers in Elk County that should find this field day very interesting, as well as informative," Braun said. Specifically, attendees will gain information on many of the NRCS programs and funding that the Sugar Hill Farm has taken advantage of, as well as learn about practical pasture management practices, rotational grazing and soil nutrient testing. "Our new district manager for the Elk Conservation District, Steve Putt, will also be available to answer any questions and to provide information concerning the many services available to local farmers through the District," Braun said.He added that attendees can also expect "a good organic lunch with grass-fed beef."