Sneak Peak at our Fall Print Newsletter

Rotational Grazing at Viles Arboretum 

New Land Management Practices to improve soil quality and control of invasives.

If you have visited Viles Arboretum in the summer you might have noticed a group of sheep grazing our grounds or taking an afternoon nap in the shade of their shelters, equipped with solar-powered fans.  Grace Chavis is the shepherdess of Two Feathers Sheep and Fiber and has partnered with Viles Arboretum since 2019.  The Two Feathers flock are Icelandic sheep, composed of retired ewes living out their golden years along with fiber wethers who love having fun on a daily basis and entertaining visitors at the Arboretum.  

The philosophy at Two Feathers Sheep and Fiber follows the principle of regenerative agriculture (Regenerative International) which is a win-win situation for the sheep as well as Viles Arboretum.  The sheep graze 3 seasons out of 4 and they are intensively rotated on pastures at Viles.  This helps them get a varied diet as well as being in a healthier pasture environment with fewer parasite issues.  This in turns reduces or eliminates the need for chemical dewormers.  


For the Arboretum, the introduction of grazers represents an opportunity to leverage more sustainable land management practices. Our fields are typically cleared annually/bi-annually by field mowing, which keeps our open spaces from succumbing to successionary growth, but does offer any significant environmental benefit.  Rotationally grazing an area for a short period of time helps control invasives and helps native plants to develop better root systems by making them more drought resistant.  The sheep also fertilize the area - developing better soil quality and biodiversity by increasing both the water holding capacity and sequestering carbon at greater depths, drawing down climate-damaging levels of atmospheric CO2. 

You can learn more about Grace and the Two Feathers Sheep at  

This is just one of many articles that was recently published in our printed 2020 Fall Newsletter.  This is a newsletter we produce to keep our members updated on Arboretum news and events.  

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