Celebrate May Beef Month with Rachel Harmann, a beef farmer from Algoma, Wis. Rachel farms with her family on the shores of Lake Michigan at Lakeshore Land & Livestock. She shared what sustainability means to her family and how they are protecting their most precious resources.

Introduce yourself and tell us about your farm:

My name is Rachel Harmann. I raise beef cattle with my family on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan in Algoma, Wisconsin. A tree line separates our pastures from the lake, so we need to be sustainable in all that we do.

What is it like farming so close to the lake?

Farming on the lake has its challenges and its benefits. It is beautiful but it brings its own host of challenges for us as farmers because it is our top priority to make sure that we have clean water for our kids, our cows and our community.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability here at Lakeshore Land & Livestock means that we are intentional with our practices to make sure that we are leaving things better than what we found it, working with past generations to know how the land works and what works best for the crops and cattle. We are also using new technology and practices to make sure that future generations are able to keep farming right here in our local community.

We are extremely fortunate to have been farming on this land for six generations already and we have put practices in place to make sure that we can leave the land and environment better than we found it for many generations to come.

What do you do to protect the water?

We joke that the kids and cows drink the same water here and while it might not be from the same water tank, being so close to the lake does mean that our communities’ cows and kids actually do drink the same water. It is our most precious resource. We put practices into place like buffer strips and water runoff areas so that we can ensure that we keep the soil where it belongs and the nutrients where they belong to keep our most precious resource clean and safe for everyone in our community.

How does technology help you to be sustainable?

Technology varies from farm to farm. One thing that we do is test our soil. We take a small sample of soil and send it into a lab and they can tell us what nutrients our land has or what we need to add to it. This is a great benefit to us because we are not applying nutrients that the land doesn’t need. It also saves us financial resources. We also use nutrient management planning, which is like a prescription for our soil so we can accurately apply the nutrients the soil needs. We collaborate with other farmers in the area to learn best practices for implementing no-till.

Why is sustainability important at Lakeshore Land & Livestock?

Sustainability for us at Lakeshore Land & Livestock is really the meat and potatoes of everything that we do here. It is important because we need to make sure that we can do what we need to do in this current generation to be sustainable and profitable on our farm but also make sure that we are leaving things in a position that the next generation and generations to come are able to to continue to feed and clothe the world around them.