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By Animal Welfare Approved
| February 13, 2015
Sharon Funderburk was born and raised on a dairy farm in Union County, North Carolina. She grew up helping her grandfather milk cows, plant fields, and harvest produce. “By the time I went to college,” Sharon says, “I wanted to study something completely apart from agriculture.” After studying cultural anthropology, Sharon took some time off to work on a farm before pursuing a Master of Science in horticulture at North Carolina State University. Sharon then worked for 15 years as a consultant, offering agronomic services to farmers before the opportunity arose for her to work in corporate organics management. In 2010, feeling the pull to return to her roots on the farm, Sharon purchased 50 acres of woodlands and pasture in Turkey, NC, which would become Beartrack Farm. Sharon has been farming full time at Beartrack Farm since June 2013, and raises Certified AWA beef cattle, sheep, laying hens, and pigs. She has added a greenhouse, barn, grain bins, and a home for her to live in, all the while paying special attention to developing habitats and systems that promote the health and well-being of the animals—both farmed and wild.
In 2009, after his construction job came to an end, James Taylor decided to make use of his grandfather’s former horse farm to become a first-generation organic produce farmer, and established Jacar Produce, a 150-acre farm located in Clayton, North Carolina.
Scott and Madyson Millard raise Certified AWA laying hens on pasture at Southpaw Farm in Lincolnton, North Carolina. Because the laying hens at Southpaw Farm are managed in pasture-based systems, they have constant access to pasture or range, they have plenty of room to perform natural behaviors like running, foraging, pecking, dust bathing, and scratching for grubs and seeds under the North Carolina sunshine. Not only is pasture management far better for animal welfare but it is also less likely to cause environmental degradation. It also results in tasty and nutritious eggs with more beta carotene and higher levels of beneficial conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids than conventional eggs!
Bart Kepley’s great grandfathers were both tobacco farmers in North Carolina. But while there was a family history of farming in past generations, Bart grew up in Florida without farming experience. Soon after he and his wife, Kristyl, had their first child, however, they started to take a closer look at the food their family ate. This was the start of their journey back to farming.
By Animal Welfare Approved
| December 11, 2014
Arianna and Eric Gaesswitz raise Certified AWA pigs and laying hens on pasture at West Mountain Farm in Winslow, Arkansas. West Mountain Farm utilizes pasture-based farming systems to ensure their animals have constant access to pasture or range throughout their lives. The herd of pigs and flock of laying hens have room to roam and demonstrate their instinctual behaviors. Research shows this type of management results in better animal health, environmental health, and human health—as well as tastier eggs and meat!
Although Jean White didn’t grow up farming, she always kept gardens, horses, and livestock for her family’s use. In 2007, however, Jean focused on her longtime interest and began farming at Hammock Farm so that she could sell to the public. Comprising of seven acres of forest and 15 acres of pasture, Hammock Farm is located in Brooksville, Florida–once a leading area of citrus production in the state. The rolling landscape, good soil, moderate rainfall, and almost year-round growing conditions make it an ideal setting for raising animals out on pasture.
Since 1855, Debbie Christie Gentry’s family has farmed in Sinks Grove, West Virginia. Debbie’s father, Jim Christie, started a dairy on the very same land as a 16 year-old boy, and turned it into a lifelong endeavor. When Debbie was young, she shadowed her father and her mother, Pat, during farm chores because, “it’s just the way you grow up and what you do,” she says. By the time Debbie was 13 years old, her interest and love of farming was engrained. While attending Warren Wilson College, a work study college that encouraged further agricultural learning, she met her husband, Tom, and the two returned to West Virginia where Debbie became a sixth generation family farmer at SamNana Heritage Farm.
By Animal Welfare Approved
| November 14, 2014
Valerie Samutin and her family raise Certified AWA laying hens, beef cattle, and sheep at Freedom Run Farm in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Their love of good food and desire for a change in lifestyle prompted their move from Chicago, and solidified their decision to begin farming.
Stephanie O’Brien began farming three years ago when she decided that raising goats would be a great thing to do after her husband, Kevin, retired. After purchasing her first goats, Stephanie told Kevin she “couldn’t believe she’d gone 50 years without goats in her life.” Since then, Stephanie has taken classes in goat production and learned about farming and pasture-based production on S and K Farm’s 28 acres of woodland and pasture in Melrose, Florida.
Richard Peddicord raises Certified AWA laying hens at North Fork Farm in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Orginially from Iowa, Peddicord spent many days on his cousins’ farms—something that instilled in him a lifelong interest in farming. Wanting to provide fresh eggs for his family, Richard started raising laying hens three years ago on North Fork Farm’s 22 acres. Since then, local interest in his pasture-raised eggs has increased so much that he is barely able to meet demand.