Changing Minds, One Tree at a Time: Reed Family

07-09-2012 in Green Farmstead Partner

How can one person improve the image of their farm and the public perception of the livestock industry? For one southeast Iowa farmer, planting trees was the answer!

Ryan Reed, a young farmer from Ottumwa, wanted to get back to the farm full-time. When he and his wife Lana began the process to construct two new hog barns, they received pushback from neighbors and community members, even though the sites met and exceeded all of the legal requirements.

However, the Reeds knew they wanted to do things right.  Their desire to protect the environment and improve relationships with community members motivated them to plant trees once the barns were built.

The Reeds were working with the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) on siting and neighbor relation issues and wanted to find an expert to consult prior to planting. With the help of CSIF, Trees Forever and nursery professional Kevin Kelly, they planted two rows of hybrid willows, two rows of pine trees and one row of bushes around their hog barns in the spring of 2008. (Editors note: the Green Farmstead Partner program was created a year later to help answer questions families like the Reeds had.)

Ryan used cost-share programs through the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), including the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) programs.

Although the trees are only four-years old, when you drive up to the farm, the trees are the first thing you notice. In fact, the majority of people who originally opposed the hog barns have since complimented the family on how nice their sites look.  Ryan said seeing the results of the tree planting has been “one of the most rewarding experiences since I started farming again in 2007.”

The Reeds have noticed many positive effects, both on the physical and environmental sides of planting trees. In addition to improving relationships with community members, another exceptional benefit of the design of their tree planting is its ability to control snow deposition.  Although some people have expressed concern that a tree planting may cause ventilation problems, Ryan said it has not been an issue; he has not noticed any negative impacts on air flow.

When asked why he decided to plant trees, Ryan quickly responded, “Give me a good reason NOT to plant them.”

For the Reed family, their tree plantings have more than paid for themselves.

By: Rose Koester, 2012 CSIF Intern

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