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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.
Melinda Brown raises Certified AWA pigs on 10 acres in Vilas, North Carolina—a town just outside of Boone, located in the high country. “Nothing is flat here. It’s all rather steep, which makes fencing a bit challenging,” says Melinda. “The property was not used for about 10 years, so for the last five I’ve been working on reclaiming the pastures and getting my infrastructure built.” For years she has produced most of her own food, and she enjoys preserving and canning the bounty of her harvests. “I enjoy helping other people learn how to can,” says Melinda.
Noel Diesen and Cliff Rankin raise Certified AWA pigs, laying hens, laying ducks and geese outdoors on pasture or range at Rock Spring Hollow Farm in Cumberland City, Tennessee. Both Noel and Cliff grew up without a farming background in Nebraska and Ohio, respectively. However, just a few years ago, after deciding that they wanted to find a place to farm and grow their own food, they found a property online, called the listing agent and saw the farm. Within 45 days, they were farm owners of Rock Spring Hollow Farm! As Noel explained, “The universe said this is what we’re gonna do.”
Farming on 18 acres that grew cotton for centuries, Carey & Natalie Howell manage their land with the aim of revitalizing the soil at Howell Specialty Farmz in Indian Land, South Carolina: “We are actively looking to turn our mistreated land into a viable farm with the goal of creating a more sustainable farming system,” Natalie says. Just three years ago, the Howells started raising chickens. When a local specialty grocer requested their eggs in addition to friends, family and neighbors, they decided to ramp up production. Today, Howell Specialty Farmz raises 80 Certified AWA laying hens outdoors on pasture, supplying fresh eggs to the local community.
Martez Alston raises Certified AWA pigs at Triple A Ranch and Farm in Warrenton, North Carolina—about 50 miles north of the Raleigh-Durham area. Martez grew up on a family farm and has continued to keep the 54-acre farm up and running. In addition to his Certified AWA pigs, Martez also manages some cattle and cuts hay.
Sanford and Debbie Fishel raise Certified AWA pigs at Fishel Organic Farm in Grassy Creek, North Carolina. “I’ve been around farming all my life, and we have farmed on our own for 40 years,” says Sanford. “We currently manage a herd of about 25 Certified AWA pasture-raised hogs, as well as 30 acres of organic vegetables, 35 acres of pumpkins and 300 acres of Christmas trees.”
Ross Barefoot raises Certified AWA pigs at Ross Barefoot Farm in Dunn, North Carolina. Ross grew up watching, helping and farming alongside his parents and grandparents in North Carolina. On the 100-acre farm in Dunn, Ross grows commodity grain, as well as produce that he sells at the State Farmer’s Market in North Carolina.
Kevin and Delmas Hobbs raise Certified AWA pigs outdoors on pasture at Hobbs Farm in Faison, North Carolina. “I have been farming all my life,” says Kevin. “My family has operated a family farm for many years, and we grow several kinds of produce, wheat, corn and soybeans. Currently, I have three greenhouses being converted to grow hydroponic lettuce, tomatoes and bell pepper. We are excited to begin this new venture with hog farming!”
After a 20-year career as an engineer, working in corporate technology, Cindy Hamrick wanted a change for her family that reflected their long-time interest and concern for sustainable agriculture and food production. In 2011, Cindy and her three sons started farming and eventually built what became Carolina Farmhouse Dairy, a 15-acre family farm located in Bahama, North Carolina. The Hamricks wanted to raise dairy cows, and they also noticed that yogurt was a dairy product missing from local food outlets in their area, so they began looking into the possibility of creating a farmstead yogurt business. They haven’t looked back!