Back to Profiles
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.
Fernando Mendez was born in Cuba and moved to the U.S. with his family when he was five years old to escape political unrest in his home country. Fernando’s father worked in construction and built a farm and home on 1.25 acres in Hialeah Gardens outside Miami. When Fernando was 12 years old, he began raising and managing animals for his family. “I’ve always had a love of animals,” he explains. “Since I was a child, it’s been in my blood.”
Two years ago, Mark and Dana Nicholson moved to Tobaccoville, North Carolina, after living among nomadic herdsmen on the Tibetan Plateau for over a decade. Their time in Tibet gave Mark and Dana the opportunity to experience a relational, deliberate, and slower-paced lifestyle that was very much connected to the land. Upon returning to North Carolina, Mark and Dana established NOMAD Farms to recreate a similar lifestyle—one that celebrates a connection to land, family, and friends.
Located in the quiet town of The Plains in northern Virginia, Gone Away Farm is nestled on top of a hill, backed by the rolling landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Driven by her love of farming and desire to offer high-quality and high-welfare beef to her local community, Susan Sloane raises Certified AWA beef cattle on pasture at Gone Away Farm.
As a child, Rhonda Dortch longed for the open space of the outdoors and the chance to explore her budding interest in farming. “Farming might not be in my history,” she says, “but it’s definitely in my genes!” Carried by her trailblazing spirit, Rhonda has successfully made farming part of her history at Bluestone Mountain Farm in Hinton, West Virginia: The picturesque 15-acre farm has been home for two years and she is running a thriving farming business.