2024 KCP Application
Primary Project Category:
Secondary Project Category:
Carbon Sinks (Natural & Engineered)
Social & Cultural Pathways
Transport and Mobility
Project Summary / Description:
Zumwalt Acres was founded in August 2020 by the sixth generation of Zumwalt farmers in Sheldon, IL. Seven students, including two members of the Zumwalt family, spent what would have been their fall semester of college in Sheldon creating a teaching farm for regenerative agriculture and carbon capture. The founding of Zumwalt Acres was inspired by three visions: one, to connect leading scientists with farmers who can inform, implement, and scale necessary and emerging technology; two, to transition conventional farmland to regenerative, resilient, and community-oriented agriculture in the heart of the Corn Belt; and three, to train, inspire, and build the next generation of growers. In spring 2021, Zumwalt Acres launched one of the largest ERW trials in the world, in collaboration with Yale University and the Planavsky lab. This initiative captured many tons of carbon dioxide, and our research has expanded to thousands of acres across the country.
Regions of Operations:
How Project Affects Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions:
Removes/stores GHGs (e.g., projects that capture, sequester, or otherwise enhance the "sinks" that accumulate and store GHGs)
Best Estimate of GHG Avoidance/Reduction of This Project (Tonnes CO2 Equivalent/Year):
Impact on Underrepresented Groups:
Enhanced rock weathering (ERW) is an incredibly scalable technology that could be rapidly implemented on large-scale conventional farms for gigatons of drawdown potential. While we appreciate the carbon dioxide removal potential that implementing ERW on industrial farmland offers, we are also aware of the complex web of agribusinesses and carbon credit schemes that stand to benefit from this technology. As a young, Jewish, queer, women and non-binary led organization, we believe in bringing representation to sustainable farming and climate movements. By implementing ERW field trials on a range of crops including organic, perennial, and diversified landscapes (in addition to monocropped farmland), we are preparing to deploy this technology in a just and equitable fashion. We are a partner with the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture in the recently-awarded Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant through the USDA to specifically focus on establishing ERW with small and underserved producers. Additionally, our apprenticeship program explicitly supports and empowers young growers, scientists, and activists from diverse backgrounds. Over a third of American farmers are over the age of 65. As they approach retirement, there is a remarkable opportunity to change the status-quo in commodity cropping. By integrating cutting-edge science that is often limited to experts with our meaningful, justice-oriented education, apprentices leave equipped to be leaders in climate smart agriculture through a lens of sustainability, equity, and resiliency.
Research or Economic Modeling
Measurement, Reporting & Validation
ZA is located on unceded homelands of Kiikaapoi, Peoria, Kaskaskia, and other peoples in current Sheldon, Illinois. Sheldon is in one of Illinois‚ most rural counties, which produced the second largest amount of corn in the nation in 2021 (NASS). ZA is led by a new generation of farmers who work alongside a team of motivated young people to shepherd their family farm towards a more sustainable future, environmentally and economically. At our education hub, we have 1,000 trees in an agroforestry system, 10 acres of organic vegetable production, ongoing biochar production, and 20 acres of row crops in ERW trials. We also work with neighboring farmers to manage ERW field trials on over 100 acres of surrounding conventional farmland. We host up to 30 apprentices per year, and organize field days to engage hundreds of farmers, scientists, and local community members with our work.