Sep 16, 2023

Monroe County farm leads the way in regenerative agriculture

Located in the rolling hills of southwest Monroe County you will find the Marble Hill farm. Whitney and Kip Schelgel have been raising sheep, chicken, cattle, and many other animals on the land for 25 years.

What makes this farm unique is they are 100% sustainable and conservation friendly. They use a practice known as regenerative agriculture or farming, which is slowly growing in popularity across the country.

The practice has several core principles that include eliminating fertilizers and pesticides and focusing on soil health and nutrition. It's better for the land, the livestock and the air we all breathe.

Marble Hill farm has over 140 Shetland sheep, a breed from Scotland, that are known for their smaller size and their fleece. The sheep on the farm are raised solely for their fleece.

Marble Hill Farm's sheep are moved from pasture to pasture every five to seven days in a process called rotational grazing. While grazing the land the sheep will poop and that manure will naturally fertilize the soil.

Only being in each pasture for a few days also prevents the sheep from eating the grass down to the roots. In fact, you won’t see any bare soil on the farm, which is another principle of regenerative farming. There is no tilling of the land and the ground cover is very consistent, which helps with soil health and nutrition.

Whitney says rotating the sheep also helps to keep them free of parasites because the grass is getting fertilized organically by their manure. Once the sheep are rotated back after about 28 days the grass is high so they don’t eat down to the ground and as a result stay away from the droppings they left behind.

Each spring the sheep are shorn before the heat of summer. That wool is then sent to a mill and returned to the farm so it can be used to create many great natural products.

We all know you can make yarn with sheep's wool - but what is really neat is that Whitney uses different plants grown on the farm to color her yarn. Then she uses it to create coasters, socks, hats and shoe inserts. All of these products sold at Marble Hill Farms are made from the sheep they raise.

Keeping with the sustainable theme on the farm, nothing goes to waste. Even the less desirable wool is used to create cat toys, dryer ball and even mulch for the gardens since it is 100% compostable.

The sheep graze the land, fertilize the soil naturally, get shorn to produce great products and what wool isn’t used is returned to the land. There is no waste and no artificial fertilizers used. It's 100% sustainability and regenerative agriculture at its best.

Whitney and Kip have received numerous awards for their efforts in regenerative agriculture.

Each year when lambs are born, they are given a name based upon a theme.

This year’s theme was insects and Whitney knows the name of every sheep on her farm.

Throughout the year Marble Hill hosts numerous groups to promote conservation and education.

If you are interested, you can contact them.

Fun Fact: WRTV Meteorologist Todd Klaassen grew up with sheep, so he fit right in during his visit to Marble Hill Farm.

"A little-known fact about me is I grew up with sheep so my trip to the farm brought back such great memories," Klaassen said. "Maybe a visit to the farm for you might spark an interest as well."

If you’d like to buy any of their products or eggs from their chickens and beef from the cattle you can find them at numerous farmer’s markets in the Bloomington area.

You can check them out on Facebook page or visit their online store at