Amanda Glover grew up on a 400-acre cattle ranch in Mountain Grove, Missouri. The experience was not a positive one.
After high school, she moved away from her family ranch, studying and working in the field of surgical technology.
But in her mid-30s, a major lifestyle change drew Glover back to agriculture and gave her a passion for living off the land.
The SSSA award
Her efforts in soil and water conservation, and sustainable farming, won Glover the 2019 Soil and Water Conservation Scholarship from the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA).
She received the award at the recent SSSA Awards Ceremony at San Antonio, Texas.
A 180-degree change
Glover’s journey back to agriculture began almost a decade ago.
During her third pregnancy in 2011, she delved into health and nutrition, including organic food. She soon realized, however, that buying organic food was costly. That’s when she began a journey toward organic self-sufficiency, relying on what she learned growing up on a ranch and conducting her own research.
“I started a 3,000 square foot garden at home, researching extensively about growing food organically,” Glover said. “I learned that the soil was alive, but it was being destroyed at a rapid pace. I also discovered there’s a global water crisis.”
Glover became obsessed with creating a closed loop system, where all nutrients and organic matter are recycled back to the soil. This preserves nutrient and carbon levels in the soil and promotes sustainable farming.
In two years, she built rainwater collection systems, greywater systems, aquaponics systems, gravity fed irrigation systems and composting facilities on her property in Rocheport, Missouri. She also used worms to compost, and raised chickens, American guinea hogs, goats and rabbits – using their manure to enrich her soil.
“I tried to make all of my own stuff for my family and waste nothing,” Glover said. “I knew I was successful when I started saving about $23,000 a year.”
Sharing her knowledge
Excited about her success, she told many people about her efforts. She invited them to tour her homestead and taught them about sustainable farming methods, such as growing their own food, reducing water use and improving soil health.
“I absolutely loved teaching, especially the children,” Glover said. “When you let kids play in a bin of worms, milk a goat or poop in a bucket, you have their undivided attention. When you let them dig in the dirt and tell them a teaspoon of soil can contain a billion microorganisms, it will stick in their heads forever.”
Returning to school
Glover enjoyed teaching so much that she decided it was time for a career change. She wanted to work in sustainable agriculture outreach and education. Realizing she would need a degree to do this, she moved back to Mountain Grove with her family and enrolled at Missouri State University in January 2018.
When she graduates in May 2020, Glover plans to pursue a graduate degree in international sustainable agriculture.