Forefront: Ideas in Food and Farming
To celebrate the launch of MCC's new Center for Agrarian Learning, we're bringing you innovative thinkers (and doers!) in the food and farm economy like Ben Hartman; Rod Ofte; Erin Meyer, Rachel Bernier-Green, and Andy Hazzard; and Lisa Kivirist. With Forefront: Ideas in Food and Farming, we're showcasing entrepreneurs who are solving problems with their passion and skills and sharing the how and the why of it all. Ideas abound and strategies are tried and tested as all are motivated to experiment and think outside the box.
This speaker series is intended for farmers, land owners, chefs, local food enthusiasts, and anyone interested in the food economy. Come get informed and inspired the fourth Sunday of each month, January – April. All Forefront sessions will be held in the Luecht Auditorium at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake.
Rotational Grazing: Improve Soil Health and the Farm's Bottom Line
Rod Ofte, Willow Creek Ranch
Sunday, February 23
2 p.m., Free but registration required
Finishing cattle on grass can allow a producer to capture a market premium from consumers looking for the human health benefits of grass-fed beef. In this engaging session, Rod Ofte will talk about how rotational grazing has impacted his farm in many positive ways. His transition from a conventional dairy farm to rotational grazing beef cattle opened up new marketing opportunities that allow him to capture a higher price while benefiting his farm's soil health.
Rotational grazing involves moving cattle to new paddocks and allowing grasses and soil to rest for at least 30 days, resulting in animals with stronger immune systems and higher total production. Join Ray as he shares his journey and offers tips for maximizing your farm's productivity and marketing your end product, all while being a better long-term steward of your land, improving water quality, and making a positive impact on wildlife habitats.
Rod is a fourth-generation rancher who operates Willow Creek Ranch, a rotational grazing operation on 400 acres near Coon Valley, Wisconsin. He has about 30 cow-calf pairs and grass finishes the beef that he sells direct to consumers and to the Wisconsin Grass-fed Beef Cooperative. He also raises pastured pork and range-free layers.
He holds a Bachelor of Science from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and an MBA from Boston University. He has more than 25 years of experience in the food industry, including time working in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. He is the president of Norse Group Consulting, and has been the general manager of the Wisconsin Grass-fed Beef Cooperative since its inception in 2008.