Russ Zenner attributes the success on the farm to good soil, his opportunity to exercise responsibility at a young age, involvement on the conservation district board, and his gut feelings about what is strategically important. He has been particularly glad to share his experience and the information he has gained with others. The Zenner Farm has four specific features, which together distinguish its sustainability approach from many other farms:

  • Conversion of the entire farm to direct seeding.

  • Involvement in value-added marketing efforts at the commodity level through the cooperative.

  • Extensive involvement in research and education efforts to increase the use of direct seeding and other environmentally sound practices.

  • Involvement in innovative marketing efforts that connect with discerning local and regional consumers through Shepherd’s Grain.

In addition, as true with many of the farmers at the farms studied for this report, Russ Zenner has a very active mind, such that he is continuously looking for new ways to pursue his interests and passions related to farming and to learn more. As Russ says, “The farther I’ve got in my farming career, the less I know. We remain so far from sustainability.”

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