Ohio’s Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) recently teamed up with an organic nutritional supplement manufacturer to convert farmland into forest to grow the company’s mission, as well as the SWCD’s community conservation vision.
After purchasing property that previously was used as hayfields, Muscle Feast of Nashport, Ohio, contacted the Licking County SWCD and inquired about ways to transition the acreage into forestland that might be used, in part, for its organic product.
“They were looking at ways to enhance their property, and we’re promoting getting more native trees planted on land,” SWCD Administrator Denise Natoli Brooks said. “To be able to partner with them, develop that relationship, and highlight the potential to work with other landowners…it fits our mission perfectly.”
The company purchased nearly 3,500 hardwoods and pines out of the 20 native species offered in the SWCD’s annual tree sale, and Licking County SWCD, along with staff from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), assisted with forest management plans and planting.
To date, the partnership has begun the transition on 30 acres, and Brooks said there are continued discussions surrounding land management plans and next steps.
“They’re really just getting started,” Brooks said. “We’ve got so many options going forward right now.”
As a business that prides itself on providing grass-fed and hormone-free whey protein, Muscle Feast is also looking into possibly developing some of its property to include agroforestry products. Licking County SWCD is hoping the partnership will grow where it will use the space as a demonstration site to show other businesses and property owners what a re-forestry project looks like and can become.
“I think the property is a place we’re really going to be able to highlight not just what Muscle Feast is doing, but how much trees really provide for us, the wildlife and our health,” Brooks said.
“They know they have us to work with, as they learn what it takes to take care of a young forest and the land, and they want to learn,” she said. “We’re here to help them every step of the way.”