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May 31, 2021

Tending to the Land and Flock on Muddy Fork Farm

Monica Bongue is a farmer, artist, and conservationist on Muddy Fork Farm, a 27-acre nut, fruit, vegetable, and sheep farm in Wooster, Ohio. Monica grew up in rural Colombia where her grandfather was a coffee farmer. Farming has always been in her blood.  

Monica Bongue of Muddy Fork Farm

At Muddy Fork Farm, Monica and her husband fulfill their dream of rural living and ecological stewardship while doing meaningful and rewarding work on the land. Muddy Fork Farm changes and transforms with each season. The bare hills are now forested, the wetlands have revived, and the soil is rich with life. The farm uses organic practices and permaculture to grow a variety of produce. Much of the land has transitioned to pollinator habitat and Monica currently tends to over six honeybee hives.  

To create a holistic environment on the landscape, Monica transitioned into rotationally grazed sheep, a practice that increases soil organic matter, slows water erosion, captures more carbon from the atmosphere, provides more forage, and improves the health of the sheep. A better flock results in more lambs and higher quality wool.  

The sheep industry has minimal infrastructure for processing wool. Recognizing this need, Monica decided to take wool processing into her own hands. She will use a grant from the Brighter Future Fund to purchase a wool carder, wool picker, and washing machine dedicated to wool washing. American Farmland Trust, with the help of Tillamook Creamery, launched the Brighter Future Fund to support farmers in the face of pressing challenges like climate change and COVID-19.  

“With passion, care, and hard work, important and positive changes can come with every small action. We must take every small step towards a more sustainable future.” 

Like Muddy Fork Farm, Monica continually seeks growth and opportunities each season. She believes that little things can have a large impact. “It is said that an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly resting on a milkweed flower on a midsummer’s breeze can and will create tiny changes in the atmosphere that maybe ultimately affect the path of a tornado,” she says. “With passion, care, and hard work, important and positive changes can come with every small action. We must take every small step towards a more sustainable future.” 

Brighter Future Fund

Informed by farmers, built on experience, and inspired by you. AFT’s Brighter Future Fund carries forward AFT's commitment to addressing inequalities in our agricultural system by providing grants up to $5,000 to BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and/or women farmers nationwide. Help us support another round of inspiring farmers by donating to the fund today! 100% of all funds raised will go directly to farmers to strengthen farm resilience, enhance farm viability, and improve access to land.