Type: Dairy, Eggs, and Chicken
Years in operation: 6
Annual revenue: < 10k
(Average over last three years)
Darby Springs Farm is a small beginning farm owned and operated by William & Crystal Powers along with their two boys, Aiden (4) and Liam (2). We raise pastured dairy, eggs, and chicken along the saline wetlands of Eastern Nebraska. We holistically graze on 18 acres of pasture and wet meadows. Two acres around the home has been planted with a variety of fruits, nuts, herbs, and pollinator plants. 20 acres of the farm are saline wetlands that have a beautiful array of wildlife and native plants. We grew up on farms, but started from scratch with this farm having very little infrastructure. Our focus has been on learning and building each year. This year we have 150 laying hens, 300 meat chickens, four Guernsey dairy cows, and a beef calf. This summer we plan to build an on-farm creamery so that we can grow the dairy herd to about 20-30 cows, allowing us to be supported more fully by the farm. We will be making ice cream using our eggs and milk, dulce de leche (milk caramel), and kefir smoothies. Added fruits, nuts, and herbs will be sourced on-farm and locally, highlighting the flavor of the region. Other ingredients will be organic and fair trade certified.
Inside the Farm
How is your approach to farming different than other farms in the same category?
We use several principles to enhance our farm: Pasture Raised: We feel this provides the best for our cows, our customers, and the environment. Grazing improves the nutritional profile of the food as well as the health and welfare of the animals & environment. Heritage Breeds: We love the Guernsey cow! The most docile of the dairy breeds, provides A2A2 milk, higher than other breeds in butterfat (perfect for ice cream!), protein, and naturally occurring calcium, vitamin A & D. They excel at grazing and are more heat tolerant. Our chickens are a mix of breeds that we are selecting for ability to forage and do well in our local environment. Holistic Management & Permaculture: We rotate the animals around our pastures multiple times a day, keep water moving slowly to soak in and reduce erosion, use plantings with multiple benefits for food, forage, wildlife, pollinators, fertilization, shade. Animal welfare: On top of grazing, we strive to provide a low stress environment during handling, transportation, weaning, and adverse weather. No chemical pesticides, fertilizers, GMOs, antibiotics, or added hormones. Direct Marketing: In order to connect with customers who share our values, we direct market all of our products. Customer certified: because of our size we have not yet done any certifications, but we are open to visitors at any time!
How does your different approach contribute to a long-term profitable growth strategy for your farm and other small farms like yours?
The two keys to our long term profitability are healthy land and a quality food. We have already seen improvements in the soil and plant health of our pastures using holistic & permaculture management, this has in turn given us healthier animals, allowing us to reduce the need for mineral supplementation and veterinary expenses. Water, carbon, and mineral cycling continue to improve on the farm, giving us more resilience for climate changes and our naturally variable weather on the Great Plains. Providing wild spaces as well as wildlife and pollinator plantings helps us create a fully functioning ecosystem, providing long-term services on our farm and the surrounding area: pollination, pest control, water filtration & storage, flood control, carbon sequestration. These all help us provide quality milk, meat, and eggs that are more nutrient dense with unmatched flavor that varies with the seasons. Add that with seasonal and local flavors, customers get amazing food along with a sense of mutual benefit for their families, ours, and our local ecosystem.
How would you specifically use a Mortgage Lifter Lift or Mini Lift?
The Mortgage Lifter Lift would be used to purchase additional cows, the ice cream maker, and the pasteurizer. A Mini Lift would be used to purchase additional cows.
Please share why you are so passionate about your farm and/or farming in general.
William and Crystal both grew up on small farms, with family going back generations on the land. We love how farming connects us to our heritage, allows us to provide food for our local community, nurture our little place on earth, and help reconnect people with the nuanced flavor of the land.
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