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Jon and Christelle McKee met in Oregon, where Christelle had a small homestead with a garden and chickens. The couple decided to spend a year as farmhands on a cattle and goat farm. They fell in love with farming—and with goats in particular!—and knew they wanted to start a farm of their own. They decided to move back to the East Coast and chose Maine, largely due to the state’s strong support for small farmers. In the summer of 2013 they moved cross country to lease a farm site unseen, and a year later they purchased their own farm in Maine’s Midcoast region and became a licensed dairy.
Kip and Jen Kummerle raise Certified Grassfed by AGW beef cattle at Grassland Graze in Hamilton, Ohio. Growing up on his family’s 120-acre farm, Kip always knew he wanted to work with animals. He attended a small college to pursue a veterinary degree, which is where he was introduced to pasture-based agricultural systems. “I quickly learned that livestock on fresh pasture rarely need a veterinarian, and now I see that in my own herd,” Kip explains. “Our cattle rarely get sick because they are kept in balance with their environment.” After college, Kip moved home and started raising cattle, and has been growing the herd ever since.
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.”
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.
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.
Donna Simons raises Certified AWA laying hens and laying ducks at Pound Ridge Organics in Westchester County, New York. Pound Ridge Organics sits on an original homestead property dating back to 1792. The ducks and chickens roam the 2-acre property, while 16 acres of wooded wetlands lies just beyond the farm.
Jeromy Biazzo and Margaret Meixner raise Certified AWA sheep at Wolftree Farm in Schuyler County, New York. Wolftree Farm sits in the heart of the state’s Finger Lakes Region on the slopes between the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and Finger Lakes National Forest.
Eliza Lake and Bart Niswonger, and their two young children, Augustus and Charlotte, raise Certified Grassfed by AGW beef cattle and Certified AWA laying hens at Kinne Brook Farm in Worthington, MA. The farm has been in the Lake family since 1980, and Eliza and Bart bought the 86-acre farm in 2010. The family live in the early 19th-century farmhouse on the property.