Keith and Suzanne Gebelein raise Animal Welfare Approved dairy goats in Osteen, FL. Both Keith and Suzanne grew up in families with agricultural backgrounds, and gardening was a constant throughout their childhood. The couple now has a small 10-acre farm of their own and they are working hard to improve the condition of the pastures using sustainable methods.
Brian and Mary Colman raise Animal Welfare Approved dairy goats in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC. Their seven acres were once part of a large tobacco farm years ago. The small herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats range across a mixture of pasture, browse, and woods, producing milk that the Colmans use to create hand-crafted soaps. Mary says she is relatively new to farming and every day brings new challenges “Everything I know about farming I have learned in the last five years,” she says. “I can definitely say it has been very rewarding breeding goats, and we have learned all kinds of things about farming! Thank goodness for agricultural sites, the feed stores, farm stores, and fellow goat farmers for their support and information.”
Farmer Becky Howington raises Animal Welfare Approved dairy goats near Westminster in central South Carolina. Growing up in Alpharetta, Georgia, her father would bring her chickens, turkeys, and goats to care for and she always dreamed of having a working farm. As an adult, Becky eventually moved to South Carolina and finally realized that dream.
As a self-taught farmer, Becky says farming is not an easy job, but she finds it extremely rewarding: “We work very hard at keeping all the animals we have happy and comfortable, and wouldn’t have it any other way.” With the help of her mother-in-law, Sandra Howington, and son Morgan Howington, Becky raises Alpine, LaMancha, Saanen, and Nubian goats, and some additional mixed breeds. The goats can roam freely across the farm, which results in flavorful, nutritious milk – and high-quality dairy products.
Down to Earth Farm is a sustainable family farm located in Liberty, North Carolina, offering AWA-certified poultry and eggs. The farm was started in 2009 by founders Joe Moore and his son, Aaron, and is situated on 30 acres of family land, carrying on a farming tradition passed down through several generations.
The Moores’ initially began farming to supply high-quality food for their families, but the father and son team have expanded the operations to include pastured chickens and eggs to satisfy the growing demand for locally sourced, high-welfare products. “We saw that our community was in need of high-quality, locally-sourced pastured meat products, so we decided to go into business to provide it,” Joe says. As he explains, the farm is continually evolving: “Our family’s farming background created the passion for this work, but we also strive to learn and work with professionals and other farmers in our community to better our operation – not only for our animals, but also for our customers.”
Neil and Abbey Lenox raise Animal Welfare Approved sheep for meat in Garrison, Kentucky. They were both raised in a rural farming community surrounded by cornfields and livestock, and were involved with 4-H for many years, often taking sheep, pigs and cattle to the local fair.
The Lenoxes currently raise about 60 Katahdin and St Croix sheep. Both the Katahdin and the St Croix are known as a “hair sheep” and are raised for meat, not wool. Unlike wool breeds, hair sheep have a coarse hair-like winter coat that they shed in the spring, avoiding the need for routine shearing. This lack of wool also minimizes the risk of fly strike, reducing the need for chemical sprays. The Katahdin and St Croix are excellent mothers and thrive out on pasture. The St Croix is also particularly renowned for its natural resistance to internal parasites and its meat is considered by many to be superior in flavor to most wool-producing breeds. As the St. Croix breed is listed by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy as a “threatened” breed, the Lenoxes feel fortunate to be a part of the effort of keeping this excellent breed alive and hope to help other breeders get started with their own flock of St. Croix sheep.
Kelly and Woody Tyndall raise Animal Welfare Approved hogs in the sand hills of North Carolina. Their farm is about 25 acres, with 18 acres of coastal Bermuda grass pasture and woods where the hogs roam freely. Kelly says that the woods are especially helpful to shade the hogs in their hot summers.
Both Kelly and Woody Tyndall have a long history in agriculture. Kelly is the fifth generation to work their family’s land, where she helped her parents raise hogs when she was growing up. Woody has also farmed all of his life, working on his parents’ where they also raised pastured hogs and then managing a commercial hog operation for 10 years, before he and Kelly met and decided to go into hog production themselves. Kelly says it was a natural extension of a family tradition: “We were both familiar with the practices and we had the land, so we decided to give it a try.” Kelly and Woody work off-farm as well to supplement their income from the farm. As Kelly explains, “in this economy it was important to us to diversify.”
Farmer Karla Mejia and her husband, Harles, raise Animal Welfare Approved laying hens at 4-acre Misfit Farm, near Salisbury, North Carolina. The Mejia’s flock consists of about 60 chickens of mixed breeds, including Rhode Island Red, Americauna, Easter Eggers, and Australorp, providing a regular supply of tasty, healthful eggs for their local customers.