“We all share a voice for the health of this planet. The more we empower and uplift these voices, the stronger this regenerative movement grows. Kiss the Ground’s Farmland Program is giving voice to farmers looking to create impact on their land and spread the regenerative agriculture message”

The region is characterized by steep, forested ridges and deeply carved river valleys.

This month’s farmer feature introduces Wil and Carly Crombie of Organic Compound from the Driftless Area near Northfield, Minnesota. The Driftless Area is a land mass that escaped the flattening effects of glaciation during the last ice age. The region is characterized by steep, forested ridges and deeply carved river valleys. When the first settlers arrived in 1854, they discovered an island of woods in the vast oak savanna prairie.

Organic Compound is located near Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, one of the last remaining nature preserves in the area. Sugar maple, basswood, oak, hickory, aspen, elm, ash, and ironwood trees shade this beautiful park. Over 200 varieties of wildflowers, along with countless varieties of ferns and mushrooms grew in the Big Woods at one time, and Wil and Carly hope to mimic and restore the natural beauty that once graced the land.

Organic Compound raises Tree-Range® Chicken under a diverse and developing canopy of hazelnuts, elderberry and oak trees. Across the farm, they have established thousands of oak, hazelnut, sugar maple, basswood, honey locust, elderberry, chestnut, lilac, and asparagus, with a diverse understory of pasture grasses, perennial flowers, clovers, comfrey and more. Beneath these layers is where the real magic happens – in the soil. Wil and Carly believe in the biological diversity and power of mycelial networks. They dream of restoring the landscape with indigenous flora and fauna, while building an abundant and regenerative farm and business. Their combination of regenerative poultry practice and applied agroforestry systems represents the future of farming.

“We all share a voice for the health of this planet. The more we empower and uplift these voices, the stronger this regenerative movement grows. Kiss the Ground’s Farmland Program is giving voice to farmers looking to create impact on their land and spread the regenerative agriculture message,” said Wil.

Wil and Carly believe in the biological diversity and power of mycelial networks.
Kiss the Ground’s Farmland Program has pushed us to continue researching best practices, while building our network and deepening our philosophy and storytelling capacity.

Organic Compound has worked with the Savanna Institute to help them grow widespread agroforestry in the Midwest. They also work with the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance to support a regenerative agriculture industry alliance for thriving businesses, people, and the planet. They co-founded the Tree-Range® Chicken brand and hope to be a voice and anchor producer for regenerative poultry production.They’re part of a cooperative of regenerative poultry producers in the region, helping to grow the supply for the Tree-Range® brand. There is a community of small, organic farms and farmers who are practicing regenerative farming near Organic Compound in Northfield, Minnesota, but most farmers in the region are producing commodity crops based on chemical and industrial practices. 

Wil and Carly recognize the financial and social barriers involved in living off of their land. They feel lucky to have a very engaged community of friends, family and business partners to help, but as they look toward the future they accept taking on a financial responsibility with big risks. The work involved in starting a farm operation and growing alternative crops is a long-term and expensive commitment. They will need to hone in their record keeping, accounting, and marketing skills, but they look forward to breaking through these barriers and building a financially successful farm. Their land has transitioned from an annual monoculture operation to a diverse agroforestry site in the last five years. While their farm is young and still in development, they have increased the biodiversity greatly in a short period of time. 

Wil says “Kiss the Ground’s Farmland Program has pushed us to continue researching best practices, while building our network and deepening our philosophy and storytelling capacity. Documenting our soil and taking an in-depth look at how our farm practices can be an example for the greater farm community holds so much power. We owe a debt of gratitude to KTG for creating the Farmland Program and helping us gather this data.”