The Sonne family raises AWA pigs, laying hens, and laying ducks in the mountains of Virginia. With the help of John Sonne’s parents, Chris and Priscilla, he and his wife, Jade, manage an integrated, multi-species operation that utilizes sustainable techniques with an eye toward continually improving the farm for future generations.
For several generations, Veronica Serna’s mother’s family raised fruits and vegetables, pigs, dairy cattle and laying hens in Buena Vista, northern New Mexico, making enough to support themselves on farming alone. Over 60 years ago, however, they stopped farming on a large scale when some of her uncles were drafted into the military, leaving behind a few siblings, including her mother, who ended up marrying and leaving the farm for better opportunities. Soon after Veronica’s parents met, they moved to Colorado and then Wyoming, and eventually moved back to northern New Mexico in 1971. Unfortunately, by then the family’s larger acreage had been sold off piece by piece when times were tough, but her parents wanted to return to farming nonetheless. While her father stayed away during the week to work, the rest of the family remained at home to tend to a small herd of cattle and to continue their education.
Belinda and David Gutierrez manage Local Yolk, a pasture-raised laying hen operation, at Pilot Creek Ranch, a 970-acre property in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Belinda and David returned to the ranch, which has been in David’s family since the late 1800s, in 2006 and began raising laying hens on the family’s property in 2013. They raise 500 AWA-certified Black Austrolorp ,Ameraucana, and Rhode Island Red laying hens outdoors on pasture.
Leonard Pigott was born and raised on a diversified farm. He went away to university and worked as livestock specialist with the government for many years, before beginning his own farm in 2002. Now he puts his knowledge as a trained educator in Holistic Management into practice on a 2,200-acre ranch in Dysart, Saskatchewan, that he calls Triple H Beef. Leonard explains that, “The ‘H’s’ refer to healthy bodies, holistic living, and healing the land,” and believes that these three objectives go hand-in-hand: “If the land isn’t healthy, we don’t have anything.”
Vince and Nancy Pope raise AWA-certified sheep on a centennial family farm in the southern driftless region of Wisconsin. Vince was raised on a dairy farm and worked as a livestock nutrition specialist, and Nancy is a practicing veterinarian. Their skillsets are strong assets in their commitment to pasture-based management of their flock. “Essentially, we have a nutritionist and veterinarian on staff,” Nancy explains. Their combined skills allow Vince and Nancy to identify potential problems in the flock early, and make adjustments or provide treatment as needed.
Yellowbird Farms is a sustainable, grassfed, family-owned farm tucked away in central Tennessee. The farm is bordered by the beautiful Collins River and is located in one of the most ideal grass and forage growing climates in the country. Yellowbird Farms is a refuge for diverse plant and wildlife communities; these natural resources are protected by responsible stewardship, careful planning, and collaboration with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services. In recognition of their commitment to sustainable farming practices, farmers Deanna and Jim Malooley were named 2013 Warren County Conservation Farmers of the Year.
Marguerite Whildon started Sweetbay Cottage Hens after a 30-year career in various aspects of resource management. Her primary focus was in land management for flood mitigation, wetland protection, and watershed planning. “Often the lands I worked with were farms with severely eroded banks and soil loss or former farms under development for housing or commercial purposes,” says Marguerite.
By Animal Welfare Approved
| December 20, 2013
Jenny Brizal farms five acres in Buena Vista, a small community in the Mora County, New Mexico, which she calls Grandioso Organics LLC. She inherited the land from her father, Juan Brizal, who acquired it from his father, Emilio Brizal, before him. Jenny credits her father with her commitment to continuing the family tradition of small-scale farming and to caring for her land and animals in the traditional way. Although five acres may not sound grandiose, as the farm’s Spanish name indicates, she can produce a surprising amount of food from her family’s land. Today, her mother, Hendrey Martinez, is the farm’s official egg collector.
Roger Gonzales, along with his mother, Carol Romero, and his sister, Cleo Gonzales, run Rancho Carmelo Organic Farms, LLC, a family farm resting on 67 picturesque acres on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in northern New Mexico. The farm overlooks the valleys of El Carmen and La Aguitas, two of the 17 rural village communities located in Mora County, New Mexico.