The Rugged Conservationist
Sprinting and running out of time, Taylor Collins races toward U.S. Highway 290 following a frantic phone call informing him that a herd of bison has wiggled their way out of his 450-acre property. With the help of his wife and co-founder Katie Forrest, Collins has taken it upon himself to save the world. Founding Texas’ first regenerative ranch in 2017, with the mission to reverse climate change by decreasing carbon emissions, Collins is a shining example of the very best of Texas. As a first-generation ranch hand and land steward, a typical day on the job for Collins involves wrangling the many species of animals that live on the ROAM Ranch, located deep in the Texas Hill Country.
“Using my body every day is really important, being outdoors, staying physically active and challenging myself in dynamic and unpredictable situations,” Collins said. “Last Thursday, 50 of our bison escaped from the property, and they were about to get onto Highway 290. They vision quested on a full moon and they walked their bison butts two and a half miles down the road and the whole day was the most stressful day of my life, but it was also unbelievably satisfying caring for those animals and getting them back home safely.”
Following his experience with the launch of EPIC Provisions, a natural foods company specializing in 100% grass-fed meat, fruit and nut bars, Collins realized ranching did not have to be done in a way that reaped the Earth barren. Speaking on his moment of clarity that occurred during his venture with EPIC, Collins explained how ROAM Ranch does things differently from other suppliers.
“Whenever we would source from Texas suppliers, we'd see this amazing land degenerating over time,” Collin said. “We wanted to find a solution where we could restore these amazing, brilliant landscapes with wildlife and life. That was the big chip in our thinking.”
Taking into account the alarming degree to which irresponsible agricultural practices affect the environment, with one-third of greenhouse gas emissions originating from global food production, Collins maintains regenerative ranching is the answer. The idea behind regenerative agriculture is to revitalize soil until it is healthy, allowing it to capture carbon and decrease the atmospheric accumulation of carbon emissions in the process. Collins attributes the success of ROAM Ranch to the diverse and impressive roster of wildlife, such as pigs, bison, chicken, geese, ducks, and turkeys, housed at ROAM Ranch.
“We're really trying to replicate the biodiversity found in natural ecosystems, and what's most important to us here is restoring the health of the land,” Collins said of the revolutionary agricultural method used at ROAM Ranch. “We manage our animals in a way that really promotes mutualism, synergism, and even competition to make everything in our ecosystem stronger and more resilient.”
An adamant ambassador for this unique approach to agriculture, Collins believes ranchers do not have to choose between sales and making a difference in the world. In fact, regenerative ranching may be the most necessary and positive system for everyone in the world, according to Collins.
“It's an emerging form of agriculture that we have to transition to if we want to survive as a civilization,” Collins said. “The goal is really to change the face of agriculture and prove that it can be profitable for a rancher. It can be good for the land, and it can be really positive for the animals that you're raising on that land.”
And what does a man wear as he saves civilization, you may ask? Combating climate change one bison at a time, Collins enjoys wearing the Standard Long-Sleeve Tee and the Texas Check in Potter when he’s out in the scorching Texas heat or a cool night on the town in Austin.
“Jeans and boots or some kind of work boot are critical for being outdoors,” Collins said. “The other thing that like I wearing year-round is a little bit counter-intuitive to some people, but it’s long sleeve shirts that protect my skin. Even when it's super hot outside, you'll find out that your body can regulate temperature better in a long sleeve shirt.”
At the end of the day, Collins upholds the virtues and values championed by every true Texan, working to make his community and the world a better place to live. Collins took the idea of traditional ranching and spun it in a way that breaks boundaries and expectations of simply turning a profit while giving back to the great state of Texas. Treating Roam Ranch as a “regenerative field experiment,” Taylor Collins is slowly preserving the abundant “cornucopia of wildlife and nature” offered by the Lone Star State.
“I just think there are so many unique challenges in being outdoors. Ultimately what's more satisfying than being outside, raising food that's highly nourishing for the community while also restoring and regenerating land so that future generations can enjoy the natural resources and outdoors as we do?” Collins said. “For me, there's nothing better than that.”
Photo Credit: Caleb Kerr
Story Credit: Ana Sierra