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.
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.
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.
Bird’s Hollow Beef farm is nestled among the Finger Lakes in western New York State, within the township of Gorham. The 140-acre farm, which is centrally located between Canandaigua, Seneca and Keuka Lakes, is owned and operated by David and Candice Eldredge, who are pursuing a long-time desire to raise pastured beef cattle and manage their land sustainably.
Tom Bates and Dr. Jana Schrier became cattle ranchers almost by accident. When a neighbor desperately needed hay from the couple’s farm in 2006, they were given four show-quality Beefmaster cattle in payment. Before they knew it, they had become grassfed beef producers.
While Tom had a lot of previous experience working cattle the “old cowboy way,” Mother Nature Grass Fed Beef cattle are raised with a totally different approach, based on stress-reduction and positive animal health. Tom explains that using high-welfare, low-stress management techniques makes working with their animals a pleasure and has a positive impact on the general health of the cattle. “Everything before was work,” says Tom. “It’s not work if you treat them right.” Jana and Tom’s cattle come right up to them—they don’t require the type of hassling that causes them stress, and are far healthier for it.
In 2006, Garry and Ming Adams bought the 2,000-acre property they call Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch. Their plan was to create a unique location where guests could stay and explore the McElmo Canyon in southwestern Colorado, where the ranch is situated. They began by renovating the historic buildings on the property to preserve and highlight the rich legacy and beautiful landscape. It was not until later that Garry and Ming decided to raise beef cattle, sheep, and laying hens on pasture and range to not only provide fresh, high-welfare and sustainable food for their guests, but also to supply local restaurants and retail outlets.