By Andrew Gunther
| January 30, 2013
As I join the 110 million or so Americans who will watch the San Francisco 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday, we will collectively chomp our way through an incredible 1.23 billion chicken wings, plus millions of burgers, hot dogs and steaks. That’s a staggering amount of meat.
Yves Saint-Vincent’s father wanted him to follow in his own footsteps and become a firefighter. But instead, Yves chose to follow in his grandfather’s footprints and began a conventional dairy and beef operation, in 1958. However, after many years of conventional production, Yves woke one day and said, “Enough!” He sold his herd and spent two years traveling the world with his wife, Diane, visiting farms in many countries and, as Yves says, “learning from intelligent farmers, raising animals differently.”
While both Dana Tryde and Eric Michielssen had grandparents that worked the land, their parents chose to leave the family farms. But when the couple first met in 1999, Dana and Eric quickly learned of their similar family legacies and their shared interest in returning to the land. In 2002, they established Clark Valley Farm and Horse Boarding in Los Osos, California, where they ran a diverse organic produce operation and sustainably-managed horse facility. In 2010, they settled at Pozo Organic Farm in the tiny community of Pozo, 25 miles east of San Luis Obispo. In addition to the horses that Dana and Eric brought from the old farm and the row crops, berries, and fruit trees they are growing, the farm is now home to laying hens, meat chickens, and breeding chickens—all Certified AWA. As a Certified AWA chicken breeder, Pozo Organic Farm is approved to raise and sell live chickens to other AWA farms.
Will French raises AWA pigs in central Arkansas, just outside of Little Rock. His 15 acres of rolling hills are half wooded and half pasture. Will’s pigs range over nine acres, and he has been steadily improving his system since he started raising pastured pigs three years ago. “I use a rotational grazing system that moves our pigs through wooded and pasture areas,” says Will, explaining that the most important aspect of his husbandry practices is providing a natural environment: “I feel like I try to give the pigs the most natural environment they can be in and still be productive. They have free access to range and root and do what pigs like to do. They get fresh ranging area frequently and never have to run through an overused, overcrowded area.”
Shawn and Jenny Hatley raise AWA pigs in the North Carolina Piedmont. As far back as 1000 A.D., the Hatleys have been well established in and around Cambridge, England, giving rise to the farm’s name. As the fourth generation of Hatleys to manage the family farm in Oakboro, NC, Shawn and Jenny are building on tradition while innovating for the future.
Carol Clement and John Harrison raise Animal Welfare Approved lamb, goats, and pigs at Heather Ridge Farm in Preston Hollow, New York. Stretching up and over a small peak in the Catskill Mountain Range, the 160 acres of hill land have been farmed for over 200 years. Originally a dairy operation, Heather Ridge Farm is now a multi-species, pasture-based livestock operation which offers a wide range of products to local customers.
By Andrew Gunther
| January 10, 2013
We know that most of the world’s hungry live in the developing nations in the South. They are hungry because they cannot afford to buy food or grow it themselves, usually because of poverty, but also due to conflict, poor infrastructure, poor agricultural practices, and the over-exploitation of the environment, among other things. They are also hungry because much of their agricultural production is focused on generating food and livestock feed to supply Western markets. Recent price rises caused by harvest failures, commodity speculation, and the diversion of grain to produce biofuels over recent years have hardly helped matters (see for example Tom Philpott’s excellent blog on the horrendous impact U.S. biofuels policy is having on global food prices – and hunger).
Bob and Tina MacCheyne purchased High Point Farms in Trumansburg, New York, in the fall of 1998 after looking for a small farm on a main road where they could grow their own food and perhaps start a farm business. They named their 48 acres High Point Farms after Tina’s father’s horse stables in Texas. In 1999, the family began a self-serve roadside vegetable stand, but after a couple of years they decided to decrease production to simply meet their own family’s need because the project involved so much extra work on top of their full-time jobs off the farm.