Sylglenda Smith Saziru raises Animal Welfare Approved laying hens on John Smith’s Hill Farm in Spartanburg; SC. John Smith Hill Farm has a rich family history. John Elrod Smith came to Spartanburg and purchased the farm over 100 years ago; he came on foot, all the way from Union, SC. When he bought the bit of land called the “Hill” people laughed and said nothing could come of it; the “Hill” was a difficult piece of land made up mostly of rocks and a lot of red clay. Over the years, however, John Smith persevered and his hard work paid off. He established a successful farm on the “Hill”- growing herbs and vegetables and raising a variety of animals. At the end of his life he even purchased a brand new 1948 Chevrolet, which the family still enjoys driving around town today, as a reminder of John Smith’s perseverance and legacy.
Steve and Marci Jacobs, along with their twin sons and daughter, raise Animal Welfare Approved registered Angus and Angus cross cattle in Healdsburg, CA. Both Steve and Marci have been in agriculture most of their lives and are graduates from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. It was a natural fit for them to start their own farm with their family’s old line lineage of beef cattle that has been in the family for generations.
Missing Willow Farm of Stuart, Virginia comes from a dream long held by owners Brian and Connie Littell. The two had always wanted to work the land and grow a variety of foods, so that they could be self sufficient and know exactly what they were eating. Now that dream has come true—at the end of a half mile long driveway where you’ll find the fifteen acres of heaven known as Missing Willow Farm. The name comes from a willow tree that Connie received as a birthday gift just after the family moved to the farm. The willow soon went missing and officials believe the robbers are some long toothed neighbors going by the name of “beavers.”
By Andrew Gunther
| March 17, 2011
Did you know that a number of U.S. states have introduced a draconian law that effectively bans photography at certain designated sites? And that two other states are apparently proposing to introduce it? You might wonder what state secret or national asset these new laws are designed to protect, or which high-powered individuals will be shielded from prying eyes?
The truth is that this legislation is nothing more than a prohibition of unapproved photography of farms. Yes, believe it or not, farms! Big Ag is protecting its interests again, stealthily promoting legislation that effectively makes it illegal to take unapproved photographs of industrial farm animal production. This is the same Big Ag which has lied to us all for years–trying to persuade us that GM is safe, that pesticides are not polluting our watercourses, that feedlots do not add to greenhouse gas, and that all industrial farm animal production is both safe and humane.
In 1993, as a newly engaged couple, Kathy and Ken Lindner discussed the possibility of raising bison together in their retirement based on a very memorable bison burger Kathy had eaten six years earlier. After four years of research, they bought their first bison at the industry’s highest price point and over the next decade, watched commercial breeders go out of business as prices steadily decreased.
Jamie and Amy Ager run Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, NC. Jamie and Amy met while attending Warren Wilson College in nearby Swannanoa, an institution known for its emphasis on sustainable agriculture. After graduating, the Agers decided to start a farm specializing in grassfed and pastured meats on land belonging to Jamie’s family. Their farm has now been in operation for more than ten years. With the help of their three boys, the couple continues to raise Animal Welfare Approved pigs and beef cattle in the rolling hills of Western North Carolina.
Farming and ranching has been a way of life for seven generations of the Koch family. The latest operations of the Koch Ranches, located in Medina and Frio Counties, Texas is currently run by brothers Anthony and Charles, as well as Anthony’s son, Bret, and his daughter, Cheryl. Anthony is proud to share that the seventh generation of Koch family, his grandchildren, are actively learning how the ranch works.
By Andrew Gunther
| March 11, 2011
Two starkly different reports have come out recently on the future of farming. A recent series in the Economist touts industrialized farming as the only way to feed the world as our population swells beyond nine billion people by 2050. But a new report from the United Nations says farmers can meet growing demand using ecologically sound agricultural methods. The world body has released a study that calls for a fundamental shift towards what it calls agroecology as a way to boost production. “To feed nine billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available,” says Olivier De Schutter, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food and author of the report. “Today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live –especially in unfavorable environments.”
De Schutter is right. Farming that relies on inputs that destroy the atmosphere, pollute our drinking water, make our antibiotics ineffective and treat workers, communities and animals as garbage, is not a viable option for the future.
Berea College raises Animal Welfare Approved beef cattle and pigs in the rolling hills of Kentucky. Pasture-based husbandry is part of a long tradition that Berea has recently revived. While Berea College began in 1855, the farm program started in 1870 as a way to produce food for students and staff. At the time the college was largely self-sufficient. “Everyone worked,” says current Farms Manager Bob Harned. Over ten acres of garden, pastures and a creamery supplied most of the food needed. In time, however, the focus shifted to off-farm suppliers as less expensive alternatives became available.
By Andrew Gunther
| March 4, 2011
When news broke last week that a leading U.S. scientist had written to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to warn of a potential new threat linked to Roundup Ready GM crops, it didn’t take long for Monsanto’s PR machine to kick into gear.
Dr. Don Huber – Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, with more than 40 years experience as a plant pathologist – wrote to the USDA in January to call for a delay in the approval of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa. He was concerned about preliminary evidence that he had seen of a new “microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings” that could be linked to GM agriculture – and particularly the use of glyphosate herbicide (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup).