Larry Pletcher, along with his daughter, Jennifer York, and her husband, Joe York, run Vegetable Ranch LLC, a family farm resting on 125 picturesque acres in the foothills of Mt. Kearsarge in central New Hampshire.
Vegetable Ranch became certified organic in 1988, while Larry was farming on a part-time basis. In 2001, he was able to devote himself to farming full-time and started branching out into raising animals. Today, Vegetable Ranch raises Tamworth pigs and Freedom Ranger meat chickens, which are certified by Animal Welfare Approved.
“Pasture-raising our animals is the most important aspect of the animal husbandry practices at Vegetable Ranch,” Larry says. “We try to let the animals be what they are. They know how to deal with life, they know what to do. We try to give them space, and freedom. That’s just what we do.” Since the Tamworth breed of pigs is known for its foraging abilities, Larry explains that it seemed like a natural fit for the farm’s philosophy: “Selecting animals for our organic system really started with the pigs. It means we can make use of any excess or waste produce, and they are happy eating lots of summer squash and cauliflower.” The chickens at Vegetable Ranch also assist in maintaining the soil and environment by returning and improving nutrients to the fields: “Though these birds are not on the farm for long they enjoy nothing but the best of foods and real estate as do the pigs. This often eliminates any health issues for the birds as they lead healthy lives in environments that promote their health and wellbeing,” Larry says.
Vegetable Ranch believes achieving AWA certification was important for its customers: “We wanted to make sure our customers understood that we were doing the right thing with our animals,” says Larry. “We’re concerned with doing things humanely and the right way, so the AWA certification made a great deal of sense to us.” Vegetable Ranch hopes to continue working towards being a sustainable or “closed-loop farm” in the future, where they are largely self-sufficient for things like feed, and where minimal inputs are brought on to the farm and waste material is reused or recycled. “The more we can do to reach towards this goal, the better.”
Vegetable Ranch sells AWA-certified pork and meat chickens direct from the farm, through their CSA, and at the Concord Farmers Market. For more information about Vegetable Ranch—or to place an order—visit www.vegetableranch.com or contact Larry at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 496-6391.