We all love purchasing a good product! But some "good" products come with a hefty imprint on Mother Nature. Observing Earth Day earlier this month reminded us to celebrate the way we produce our product.
A whole lot of thought and hard work goes into the production of Simply Sunflower Oil. #FarmerAl is a fourth generation farmer and rancher who has carefully researched and practiced to be an ecologically conscious farmer. We first want to offer a healthy, great product to you and your family! Secondly, we want to produce it in such a way that we leave the environment better than we found it. Check out some of the ways we function as an eco-friendly farm.
We grow our own fuel.
I'm picturing the confused look on your face as you read that subtitle....but it's true! We grow our own fuel. The process of growing sunflowers requires a lot of farm equipment - tractors for planting, irrigation pivots for watering, combines for harvesting, and semis for transporting just to name a few. Most production machinery runs on diesel which emits pollutants from the engine exhaust. For as much time as we spend running those engines, we opted for a more economical and eco-friendly option of making our own biodiesel. Biodiesel is an alternative fuel that doesn't release carbon dioxide so it is much nicer on the environment. It definitely takes more time that simply driving up to a gas pump, but we think it's great time invested to be a good steward of our environment!
Fun fact: Biodiesel doesn't smell like typical car exhaust when used; it actually leaves a scent of fresh popcorn and french fries! No wonder #FarmerAl likes popcorn.... the fragrance surrounds him all day!
We rotate our crops.
If we grow sunflowers in our North field this year, we will grow a different crop in it's place next year. We are constantly on a crop rotation of corn, beans, wheat, and sunflowers because of the natural benefits it offers the soil. Our crop rotation changes the insect cycle so we are able to minimize chemicals in the growing process. Corn uses nitrogen and soybeans make nitrogen. Therefore, we're able to use less fertilizer because the plants generate their own fertilizer as a bi-product. Sunflowers have one deep tap root which buries down deep in the soil and breaks up hard pans naturally. This enables us to use a no-till farming technique and increase organic matter in the soil. It also breaks down the weed cycle so fewer herbicides are needed. Crop rotation provides a natural fertilizer. It offers protection from wind and water erosion, provides grazing for cattle, and enables us to diversify the land usage. This helps so soil microbes don’t die off.
Farmer Al Quote - "80% of inputs of what a farmer produces are from the sun's energy, natural water, and natural soil. God does much more than we do. Farmers know it better than anybody because they are relying on the sun coming up and photosynthesis. All we are trying to do is control the bugs that cursed Adam after the fall, but still God provides what it takes to make it happen."
We use the entire plant.
Sunflowers are a very large plant and in addition to the oil encased within each seed, there are quite a few bi-products you can make from the remainder of the plant. It takes 3-4 sunflowers to make one 16oz bottle of ultra healthy, cold-pressed, all-natural sunflower oil. Once the oil is removed from each seed, we are left with the remainder of the sunflower seed. We call this "sunflower meal." Instead of discarding the sunflower meal as waste, we use it as a bi-product as feed for our livestock. It adds additional protein and great taste to the feed. Sunflower meal is also commonly used as fish feed or bird seed.
Fun Fact - In addition to using the entire sunflower plant, we are also able to contribute to other products beyond sunflower oil and it's bi-product. This past year, Nebraska's 2017 Honey Queen Shelby Kittle brought her beehives to our farm to help with pollination. The bees made more natural honey from our sunflowers than Shelby had ever seen before.
To sum it up, growing our own fuel, rotating our crops, and using the entire sunflower plant are only a few of the many was we choose to be an eco-friendly farm. #FarmerAl is continuously researching different ways to be a good steward of our environment. If you have more questions about our eco-friendly farm, please contact us! We love hearing from you! And remember to #sharesunshine ! With your bottle of Simply Sunflower Oil, you are purchasing a wonderful product for both your health and the health of our ecosystem!
Have a Sunny Day!
Your Simply Sunflower Team