Dan and Asunta Presson raise Certified AWA laying hens on 15 acres in the foot hills of the Sierra Mountains in Marysville, CA, with 10 acres of open grassland and 5 acres of woodlot. The Pressons have been farming for the past five years and found they have a particular affinity for raising chickens outdoors on pasture.
Nathan W. Drager raises Certified Grassfed by AGW beef cattle at Drager Farms, LLC in Marietta, Pennsylvania. Nathan grew up on a 200-acre conventional dairy farm in the same area and he now farms on 50 acres purchased from his family. Being immersed in farming culture all of his life, it was no surprise he decided to return to his roots after a brief stint in carpentry work after high school: “I don’t see farming as a job,” he says. “It’s a joy to raise cattle.”
Jamie Ager raises Certified AWA pigs at Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, North Carolina. The 90-acre farm has been in the Ager family since 1916, when Jim and Elizabeth McClure, five generations removed from Jamie, went on their honeymoon, fell in love with the land and settled into farming at Hickory Nut Gap Farm. Jamie grew up on the farm, and after meeting his wife, Amy, at Warren Wilson College, the two combined their passion and skills to create a business plan for direct marketing pasture-raised products at Hickory Nut Gap Farm. They put the plan into action in 2000, and have been farming at Hickory Nut Gap Farm ever since.
Paul Sozansky, his wife, Juliana, and daughter, Katie, raise Certified AWA pigs at Eagle Point Farms in Rogers, Arkansas. Growing up, both of Paul’s grandfathers were farmers, and his parents were avid gardeners. The Sozanskys began raising pigs in 2014, after they were introduced to the AWA program by another farmer in the area. “I have a caretaker’s DNA and enjoy raising pigs. It’s very new and exciting, and we’re still in the process of learning,” says Paul. “So far the best teachers have been the pigs!”
Jill Merkel raises Certified AWA dairy and meat sheep at Hestholl Icelandics in Richmond, Vermont. The farm consists of around 100 acres of pasture and woodland in the Winooski River Valley of the Green Mountains region, near Burlington and Montpelier.
Mike Sands, along with spouse, Betsy Dietel, and son, Will Sands, raises Certified Grassfed by AGW sheep at Bean Hollow Grassfed in Flint Hill, Virginia, and has spent much of his life working in agriculture: “I’ve been working in farming and farmer training both nationally and internationally most of my career,” he says. “My focus has been on farming systems versus single commodities or products.”
Rob Holley’s grandfather, Cecil, purchased Dayton Valley property in 1970, and he and his son, Bill, soon developed a reputation for raising quality beef cattle and hay. Now, more than 45 years later, Rob and his family (wife Loni, and children Daniel, Caleb, and Anna) continue the family farming tradition by raising Certified AWA laying hens, dairy cattle and Certified Grassfed by AGW beef cattle at Holley Family Farms in Dayton, Nevada.
Frank Parrish and his family raise Certified AWA laying hens outdoors on pasture at Parrish Pork & Poultry in Edon, Ohio. Established in 1912, Parrish Pork & Poultry is a fifth generation farm which originally started out in the hog business. Today, Frank and his wife, Brenda, manage the farm, along with the help of Frank’s parents, Marilyn and Howard, and have expanded their business to include a flock of pasture-raised laying hens.
Edward Pacyna raises Certified AWA laying ducks outdoors on pasture or range at Adirondack Rabbit Ranch in Lake Luzerne, New York. As a child, Edward’s family always had an array of chickens and beef cattle, and he has fond memories of growing up around animals.