Mentorship and Conservation at Brooks Farms

In an era where sustainable farming practices and mentorship are more crucial than ever, Brooks Farms stands out as a shining example of dedication and innovation. With a rich legacy and a forward-thinking approach, the Brooks family is not only transforming their land but also inspiring a new generation of farmers. 

A Legacy of Conservation

Ron Brooks, CEO of Brooks Farms, has always had a keen eye for conservation, a perspective that grew sharper when he began flying as a pilot. “Flying over the landscape after a rain event, I started to see the problems in ways you can’t from the ground,” said Brooks. “Now, I take young people up in the plane to follow the water. We observe no-till farms, like ours, where clean water infiltrates the soil, and compare it to conventionally tilled fields, where topsoil erosion is evident. It’s eye-opening for the next generation.”

Brooks Farms has implemented a variety of conservation practices, from riparian and harvestable buffers to cover crops and interseeding. “We have seven prairies in different stages of restoration, and we’re constantly experimenting with new techniques like relay cropping,” Brooks explained. “Our goal is to adopt every effective conservation practice available.”

Mentoring the Next Generation

“Mentoring is crucial, especially with the razor-thin margins in farming today,” said Brooks. “The admission price to farming is high, and the learning curve is steep. Having a mentor can mean the difference between success and failure.”

Brooks Farms has collaborated with organizations like Sand County Foundation and the Leopold Conservation Award Program to connect with mentees. “We’ve learned as much from our mentees as they have from us,” Brooks noted. “For example, a family we mentored in Pennsylvania taught us about making cheese on a small scale, which inspired us to start making our own cheese.”

The Impact of Recent Rainfall

Despite recent heavy rainfall, Brooks Farms’ conservation practices have proven their worth. “We’ve had 20 inches of rain since April 18th, but because of our no-till practices and earthworm activity, we’ve seen minimal ponding and runoff,” said Brooks. “We’re wet, but not as wet as others.”

A Call to Action

Brooks encourages other experienced farmers to become mentors. “Everyone has something valuable to offer,” he said. “The knowledge we take for granted can be transformative for someone new to the field.”

In closing, Brooks reflects on the reciprocal nature of mentoring. “It’s a two-way street. We’ve had to validate why we do what we do and innovate when necessary. It’s been an introspective and enriching experience for us.”