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May 31, 2021

Creating Resiliency on Nettle Valley Farm

Spring always brings a rush of life on a farm, and the first big thunderstorm of the season creates a joyful time for many plants and creatures—including pigs. The heritage pigs at Nettle Valley Farm in Spring Grove, Minnesota, sprint onto the pasture to devour greens that are extra lush from the spring rains, says Dayna Burtness, who farms with her partner Nick Nguyen on the 67-acre property.

But big storms also create a need to protect the pasture and pigs from the elements.

Dayna Burtness and Nick Nguyen of Nettle Valley Farm

Dayna and Nick used the grant they received from the Brighter Future Fund to help their pigs by making improvements to their pig barn. The funds gave the farmers the confidence to make improvements despite the rising cost of materials.

“We were lucky to receive the grant from American Farmland Trust and Tillamook. We were very grateful,” says Dayna. “I can keep soundly at night during big storms because I will know the pigs will be sleeping nestled in their straw and out of the wind and rain. It’s a big sigh of relief to know they’re safe and happy. Any livestock farmer will tell you that a huge part of your quality of life is whether or not you’re worried about your animals.”

Tillamook Creamery and American Farmland Trust launched the Brighter Future Fund to help farmers thrive in the face of challenges like climate change and COVID-19. The pandemic made many aspects of farming—including access to processing facilities for their meat—much more difficult.

“I can keep soundly at night during big storms because I will know the pigs will be sleeping nestled in their straw and out of the wind and rain. It’s a big sigh of relief to know they’re safe and happy.”

And climate change is already making farming harder, riskier, and more unpredictable.

In order to weather the extreme storms of the future, farmers need healthy soils and livestock, human connections and the support of entities like Tillamook Creamery and American Farmland Trust, she says. Working toward personal and ecological resilience is the key to successful farming—and communities.

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.