White Fox of Freestone is a small 6 acre farm located in Sebastopol, California. Farmer and veterinarian, Nancy Walters, began growing organic blueberries on her land in 2009. Having raised chickens since childhood, she knew that introducing a flock of laying hens to her fields would benefit both the berries and the birds.
The pasture-raised flock at White Fox is a mix of different breeds, with Americana, Anacona, Buff Orpington, Wyandotte, Austrolorp, Campine, and Rhode Island Red hens, providing a regular supply of white, brown and even blue-shelled eggs. The chickens enjoy pasturing among the 400 or so certified organic blueberry bushes, with shade from the summer sun and access to a diverse natural diet of insects and seeds. In return, the blueberries benefit from the manure that the chickens deposit, as well as the natural control of insect pests that the birds provide. “It’s a commensal relationship,” says Nancy.
In 2008, and with no agricultural background, Amy Davis-Jones and Shaun Jones left their urban lives in Houston, Texas to farm 20 acres in Fayette County – land that had been farmed by five generations of Amy’s family. Over the years, their interest in sustainable food production had developed as they visited various farmers’ markets, spoke to farmers, attended conferences, and read books on the topic. Eventually, the appeal of an agrarian life brought them to the farm, where they lived in a canvas tent with no electricity or running water for the first 15 months. They decided to call the farm A + S.
Happy Cow Farms is located in the foothills of Oregon’s Coastal Mountain Range, on the west side of the Willamette Valley which is renowned for its rich agricultural lands. The area surrounding Happy Cow Farms is comprised of a diverse landscape that includes native forest, vineyards, pasture lands and other agricultural crops. Happy Cow Farms operates on a “cow-calf model,” meaning that farmers John and Lia Sanford raise their Black Angus, Hereford and Black Angus/Hereford cross-bred calves from birth.
Margo and Jerry White raise Animal Welfare Approved laying hens at Margo’s Garden in Buffalo, WV. The farm has also been approved to supply Animal Welfare Approved cattle breeding and feeder stock. The Whites raise Angus cross-bred cattle and traditional breeds of chickens on pasture, feeding home-grown hay during the winter months. Margo and Jerry also grow a wide range of vegetables, using a high tunnel (or hoop house) to enable them to produce early and late season crops.
Farmer Jill Matney raises Animal Welfare Approved laying hens in Valdosta, Georgia.
Glendale Shepherd is a family owned and operated dairy farm on Whidbey Island, committed to sustainable agriculture practices and the production of fine sheep milk cheeses. Located on the lovely eastern coastline of Whidbey Island, the farm has been in the Swanson family for three generations. With forest, pasture, ponds, and meadows, the farm provides a diversity of high quality habitat for both livestock and wildlife. The Swanson family’s goals are to produce the highest quality sheep milk cheeses possible and to nurture the land, their family, and their livestock through the use of creative, sustainable farming methods.
After teaching horticulture, biology and landscape design for many years, Matt Wilkinson and his family bought a small five acre farm in 2008 at the foothills of the Sourland Mountain range in central New Jersey. Hard Cider Homestead is home to a flock of Animal Welfare Approved laying hens who are free to forage on carefully managed pastures.
Matt is proud of the permaculture practices that he employs at Hard Cider Homestead. The farm’s chickens work as an integrated element in the farm’s operations, adding natural fertilizer in the form of their manure to increase soil fertility and controlling bug populations while foraging on high-quality pastures. Matt can’t keep up with the local consumer demand for the high-quality eggs that this system produces.
Roger Twitchell and Ellyn Hutson became farmers in July 2004 when they bought an 11-acre area of land in North Florida. Caney Branch Farm began with a few head of Belted Galloway cattle, sometimes called the “Oreo Cow” for their distinct black and white coloring, to help manage the pastures. In 2006, Roger and Ellyn began raising laying hens and now have several breeds, including Rhode Island Reds, Speckled Sussex, Orpingtons, Wyandottes, Partridge Rocks, Barred Rocks, Cochins, and Brahmas.
When Ellyn became interested in sheep, they added Icelandic sheep to the farm, a prized fiber breed that also produces high quality meat and sheep milk. Despite the hot Florida climate, the sheep have adjusted well and, with three shearings each year and proper nutrition and care, Ellyn says that they thrive even during the hottest of months. “At Caney Branch, we sell Icelandic wools and yarns in their natural shades, as well as some hand-dyed and hand-painted products,” Ellyn explains. “We use environmentally-friendly dyes with plants grown in our Dyer’s Garden.”
When Rob and Helen Daughtery decided to start a farm, they began searching for something with around 10 acres of land. However, they immediately fell in love with a 30 acre plot in Honea Path, South Carolina, and bought the farm in 2001. And when an adjoining property which had been part of the original farm went up for sale in 2009, the couple found themselves managing 70 acres. Although the farm has established pastures, the soil had been poorly managed and was depleted. Raising animals in a pasture-based system became an important part of their efforts to increase the fertility of the land. “One thing led to another,” explains Rob. “Now we’re ranchers!”
In 2006, after living for their careers in various parts of the country, Rory and Patrice Whittle chose to return to Rory’s home state and begin new lives as ranchers in central Oklahoma. While their previous jobs didn’t give them the knowledge they would need for their new venture (Rory managed a bakery and Patrice traveled the country running software trainings), they worked extremely hard and did their homework. While researching the production methods that they would eventually employ at Double R Farms, LLC, it became clear that pasture-based farming would produce the quality of food that they want to consume – and that the public wanted, too.