River Valley Farm, a Local Grass-Fed Beef Operation, is Certified as a River-Friendly Farm
Asbury, NJ – Cotton Cattle Company raises a mix of Hereford and Black Angus Cattle at River Valley Farm, located in Bethlehem Township, New Jersey. The grass-fed cattle graze on over 150 acres of scenic pasture in the Musconetcong Valley. The farm practices Regenerative Agriculture: a conservation approach to farming that focuses on increasing ecological biodiversity, enriching soils, improving watersheds, and enhancing natural ecosystem services. For their expectational stewardship of the land and water resources, River Valley Farm was awarded the River Friendly Farm Certification in May of 2019.
The River Friendly Farm Certification recognizes farms that protect shared natural resources through responsible land management. The program is voluntary, and farms are eligible to be designated as River Friendly when they have demonstrated a commitment to soil health, clean water and wildlife habitat.
Bryce Cotton, in explaining why he sought the certification stated, “The River Friendly Farm Certification provides a third party recognition that will show new customers we are committed to conservation and environmentally friendly agriculture”.
In 1994, the Cottons purchased River Valley Farm. At the time, the land was primarily used to produce vegetables. From the late 90’s through the early 2000’s the Cottons converted the farm to a no-till row crop operation in hopes to rejuvenate the soils on the property and became the first permanently preserved farm in Bethlehem Township. Once preserved and the soils were on their way towards recovery, the Cottons wanted to create a more efficient and environmentally friendly way of farming the land. They began converting fields to pasture in 2008. This conversion included fencing in fields and seeding pasture areas with over 10 species of grasses, legumes, and forbs. The pasture diversity they have created makes for an excellent grass-fed cattle pasture and one of the best wildlife habitats for grassland birds in the area. Moreover this system of farming capture’s carbon in soil and aboveground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation.
Looking forward, the Cottons plan to build a structure on their property to allow for preservation of the pasture over the winter months and times of excess rains. This structure will protect the soils when grasses are unable to grow, store manure until there is a better time for it to be spread, and allow Cotton Cattle Company to provide their customers with more lean and nutritious grass-fed beef.
The Cotton family has done tremendous work to restore soil health on their land and using their grazing methods best serves both the cattle and wildlife. For those interested in purchasing grass-fed beef direct from Cotton Cattle Company, more information on ordering and delivery options can be found at www.cottoncattleco.com.
For more information on the River Friendly Farm Certification, visit www.riverfriendlyfarms.org and www.northjerseyrcd.org. North Jersey RC&D is a nonprofit dedicated to community needs through conservation.