Teresa and John M. Penhall both have a long history with farming, and their four children are fourth generation farmers in the Klamath Basin, Oregon. In the early 1900s, Teresa’s grandfather, Joseph Meeker, and his wife, Dorothy, established Meeker Dairy–and the farm has been producing milk, turkeys, hay, potatoes, grain, and beef for over 100 years. John’s family have also raised hay and beef for a number of years at Eagle Point, about 70 miles west of Klamath Falls where the family farms today. While both John and Teresa have been involved in agriculture their entire lives, their interest turned toward sustainable production methods after Teresa was diagnosed with cancer in 1999. Now the 65-acre Penhall Farm—known as Food 4 Life—is home to Certified AWA beef cattle, dairy cattle, laying hens, meat sheep, and pigs.
Penhall Farm is surrounded by water on three sides and is abundant with wildlife, including doves, ducks, geese, deer, and coyotes. Their guard dog, Buck, manages to keep all their livestock safe—even from the occasional mountain lion. The Penhall’s beef herd began with the purchase of an old dairy cow in 1987 and has grown slowly to around 30 mama Angus-Hereford cross cows, as well as a small herd of pure bred Jersey dairy cattle. Teresa and John can identify who each grandmother, mother, and daughter belong to in their closed herd: “John and I have always treated our animals with the utmost respect,” Teresa explains. “We both feel that God has entrusted us with these playful, innocent creatures for a season of their lives, and we want to make it as carefree and comfortable as we can. There is no greater joy in life than sitting on a tractor in the morning dew, watching the calves play and frolic in the sunshine. We never poke or prod them and they return the favor by being kind right back.” After establishing their cattle herds, Food 4 Life began adding other species to the farm, starting with Java chickens in 2006, then Hampshire-Suffolk cross sheep in 2007, and finally Hereford pigs in 2013. In the winter of 2014, the Penhalls purchased two commercial incubators and a hatcher. Now they produce around 100 Java chicks every 3 weeks, which are available for sale to local farmers. Like the cattle, John and Teresa raise all of their animals outdoors on pasture and each breed has been chosen because of its suitability to pasture-based management. As a result, their birds produce healthier, tastier eggs, while the cattle, pigs, and sheep produce delicious and nutritious meat.
Teresa explains that having AWA certification helps Food 4 Life emphasize the difference between their high-welfare, pastured products and those from farms that raise animals in confinement: “Although we weren’t aware of the program until relatively recently, we’ve always utilized the same high-welfare practices that the AWA standards endorse. We became Certified AWA with the hope and dream that consumers will choose to purchase their animal products from farms like ours because they too are frustrated with the poor quality of life some of these animals are subject to in confinement feedlots,” says Teresa. “We hope to show consumers that a better way is doable!”
Food 4 Life’s Certified AWA beef, pork, lamb and eggs are available direct from the farm. Their farm-fresh milk is available through a herd share program. To learn more about Food 4 Life or to check on product availability, visit www.food4life.com. Contact John and Teresa at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (541) 281-8821.