Improving Neighbor Relations One Tree at a Time: Ben Waigand

01-09-2012 in Green Farmstead Partner

In July of 2010, Union County farmer Ben Waigand took over the management of two nearby hog barns.

The previous owners had received considerable opposition when they originally proposed to build in the fall of 2008. In the end, they built two 2480 head hog barns.

Unfortunately, in the immediate years after construction, management issues did not improve relationships with neighbors or nearby communities.

When Ben took over, he knew he had to do things right and go above and beyond to mend fences. He decided to plant trees at both sites and sought out the expertise of the Green Farmstead Partner program, a unique initiative designed to help farm families establish buffers on their livestock farms.

“The main reason I planted trees was to improve relationships with neighbors. Additionally the trees will serve as a good windbreak – both sites are located on top of a hill and receive strong northerly winter winds. It can be very difficult to keep young, weaned pigs warm in the winter and the trees will help with that,” Ben said.

“Since I’ve taken over, several of the neighbors have approached me and said they appreciate the sites being mowed and the trees being planted.”

Each tree planting consists of two rows of hybrid willows and was planned and installed by Advanced Greenscapes of Ackley.

“Matt (of Advanced Greenscapes) was really easy to work with,” Ben said. “I’m extremely happy with how the trees grew and the automatic watering system is very handy.”

Today, Ben raises hogs for Cargill and encourages other farmers who are considering putting up any type of livestock or poultry facility to maintain effective and postive relationships with their neighbors throughout the entire process.

“If you are putting up a new building, I would factor in the cost of planting trees so they are there from the beginning,” Ben said. “Neighbors will see the trees and know you are doing everything you can to not have a negative impact on them.”

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