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Sheep grazing honored at The Mill

Tilth: cultivation of land; tillage

No gas-powered mowers shave the 16-acre grassland at The Mill at Vicksburg. Trimming’s taken care of by Lauren Burns, owner of Tending Tilth, and her herd of several dozen sheep.

The Mill in a press release is showing off a partnership with Burns and her contract sheep-grazing business. Through the grazing practices of the company, the grassland site in the conservation area of The Mill has been verified as environmentally sustainable through Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). Lauren and Mill representatives unveiled a sign identifying the status at the Mill Tuesday, Oct. 17.

2011, Public Acts 1 and 2 codified the MAEAP into Michigan state law. MAEAP is another way the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and Michigan’s agriculture industry are proactively and comprehensively addressing environmental concerns. This program is the state’s latest tool to assist in the implementation of agricultural pollution prevention practices on farms. 

MAEAP is a voluntary, proactive program designed by a coalition of farmers, agricultural commodity groups, state and federal agencies, and conservation and environmental groups to teach effective land stewardship practices that comply with state and federal regulations. It shows producers how to identify and prevent agricultural pollution risks on their farms. 

The program includes a livestock category, focusing on environmental issues related to livestock activities, including manure handling, storage and field application, as well as conservation practices to protect water and prevent soil erosion.

In addition to the sheep grazing provided by Tending Tilth, Vicksburg High School students and other community members have found ways to use and enjoy the prairie site at the Mill.  Current community partnerships include: Western Michigan University’s Hydrogeology Department, Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (KRESA) and the Kalamazoo College Biology Department.

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Learn more about Tending Tilth at

Learn more about the Mill at Vicksburg at

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