About the Host Farm and Dairy

Willenbring Family Photo

Willenbring Family Farm

Willenbring Family Farm is a regenerative farm that is pasture-based, working in conjunction with young farming families. We have worked with organizations such as General Mills, Understanding Ag, the ROCORI FFA program, Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, and hold educational outreach as part of our values.

The Willenbring’s own the farm, and we have a lease agreement with Derek and Taylor Schmitz.  Together we farm on the same land with varying farm enterprises that compliment each other and add to the diversity on-farm.

Our journey to regeneration began 18 years ago. At that time, we operated a conventional dairy farm using industrial agricultural practices. We found ourselves constantly fighting nature and fixing and addressing symptoms, always struggling with sick animals, and finding it a challenge to maintain milk quality. We were sleep deprived, frustrated, having to buy feed, and watching our physical and mental health and passions fade. Can you relate??

I invite you to come and join us to get a behind-the-scenes look into:

  • How we made the transition to regenerative farming. 
  • How the ways we saw agriculture and dairy farming changed.
  • How our soils came back to life. 
  • How our vet bills disappeared. 
  • How we went from buying feed to having a surplus in a single year of adopting the Soil Health Principles - To being recognized as one of MN’s top-quality milk producers. 
  • How our health was transformed as farmers. 
  • How to utilize practical tools and steps that you could consider taking to help YOU successfully make the transition to regenerative agriculture.
  • How to build a direct market and bring community back to farming.
  • How we were able to rediscover the heart, passion, fun and profitability in farming in whole new ways!

In 2021, together with Willenbring Family Farm, Matthew created and launched a brand named, Forgotten Flavors, with the mission of connecting consumers with nutrient-dense and regeneratively raised meat and eggs.  To learn more, check out Forgotten Flavors’ website at: www.forgottenflavorsmn.com

Schmitz Dairy Family Photo

Schmitz Dairy

Schmitz Dairy was started in 2014 with 8 cows and a grass-fed dream. Our dairy is run by husband and wife team Derek and Taylor along with our young daughters Olivia and Wren. We currently rent Willenbring Family Farm and work closely with them. We have grown the operation to 80 dairy cows, have added a flock of hair sheep and a direct-to-consumer beef enterprise.  We have always known grazing had to be the foundation for a profitable, efficient, and family-oriented farm. After becoming aware of regenerative agriculture, the Soil Health Principles and the Three Rules of Adaptive Stewardship, this became imperative. After implementing the principles and the rules we have seen our soil health and livestock health skyrocket. This has made farming so much more fun and exciting.

We would love to have you come discover how to revolutionize and regenerate your operations as well.

Dairy Cows

Course Description

In the SHA Dairy School, farmers will develop an understanding of regenerative agricultural principles and how they relate to their farm. Through a time tested combination of hands-on and classroom programming, dairy farmers will learn how to successfully apply the principles of regenerative agriculture to build soil, crop, forage, herd and financial health to their farms.

June 20-22, 2023

Tuition of $1,375 includes:
• Regen Ag 101 course ($499.00 value), which we would like you to complete prior to the first day of class
• In-person attendance at the SHA school, as well as course materials, snacks, water and lunch each day; and
• Access to future scheduled conference calls with the instructors.

Scholarship Money Available

We are committed to helping you finance this educational experience.  We encourage anyone with interest to apply.  If you want to attend one of our 3-day events, you are eligible for a scholarship. Our scholarships for this school were made possible by a donation from Wells Fargo.

We will be giving special consideration to the following:

  • Students
  • Families or farms with more than one person attending
  • Past SHA students
  • Veterans
  • Agricultural educators and influencers
  • Minority, tribal, women and historically underserved individuals

Farm Location

Willenbring Family Farm
25113 County Road 50
Cold Spring, MN 56320

School Location

Riverside Inn
118 3rd St S.
Cold Spring, MN 56320

Who Should Attend?

Dairy producers of all sizes and types!

The cost of doing business has dramatically increased since 2020.  This has significantly impacted all farms and their net profit potential.  The dairy-focused academy is pertinent to anyone wanting to transform their dairy into a highly efficient and profitable business and transform their quality of life. You will learn how to build soil, animal, and economic health through a combination of classroom and field exercises. The school will tackle the biggest issues facing dairy producers, from herd health and reproduction, to crop and cover crop success, to waste management and fertility, to economics and building true net wealth. Hands-on experience will be heavily emphasized.

Milk production is a fast-paced, highly demanding profession and dairy producers are highly skilled individuals.   We hope to broaden your perspective on using your expertise and advantages with practical tools that increase your options, reduce vulnerability, and strengthen your resilience.

This is a power-packed school that will change your perspective on what dairying should be and can be. Taught by highly experienced and expert regenerative farmers and dairy producers.

What You Will Learn

  • Practical Application of The Principles of Soil Health & Adaptive Stewardship
  • Cropping & Cover Cropping Strategies for Building Soil Health and Nutrient Dense Feedstuffs
  • Making Dairying Highly Profitable & Highly Enjoyable
  • High Level Observation and Decision-Making Skills
  • Improving Cow Health and Performance While Reducing Inputs
  • Strategies for Enhanced Net Margins
  • The Practical Implications of Improved Soil Health, Including: Mitigating Effects of Wet or Dry Conditions, Increasing Harvest Windows, and Improving Animal Performance

Topics Addressed

  • Cropping rotations for enhanced profits, feed nutrient density, and soil health
  • Strategies for significant input cost reduction
  • Integrating livestock into cropping systems where feasible
  • Grazing alternative forages (heifers, dry cows) - crop residue, cover crops
  • Maintaining cow comfort & performance while using the herd to advance soil health
  • Manure and fertility management – Avoiding issues and effective application
  • Soil health evaluation
  • Building and maintaining cow health and optimal performance
  • Addressing resource concerns


Kent Solberg

Kent Solberg

Dr. Allen Williams

Dr. Allen Williams

Luke Jones

Luke Jones

Doug Voss

Doug Voss

Hotel Options

Riverside Inn
118 3rd St S
Cold Spring, MN 56320

Closest Airport

Minneapolis - St. Paul - MSP
6040 28th Ave
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55450

Reserve room under the Soil Health Academy block to get our rate of $90/night.

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