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The Sonne family raises AWA pigs, laying hens, and laying ducks in the mountains of Virginia. With the help of John Sonne’s parents, Chris and Priscilla, he and his wife, Jade, manage an integrated, multi-species operation that utilizes sustainable techniques with an eye toward continually improving the farm for future generations.
Yellowbird Farms is a sustainable, grassfed, family-owned farm tucked away in central Tennessee. The farm is bordered by the beautiful Collins River and is located in one of the most ideal grass and forage growing climates in the country. Yellowbird Farms is a refuge for diverse plant and wildlife communities; these natural resources are protected by responsible stewardship, careful planning, and collaboration with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services. In recognition of their commitment to sustainable farming practices, farmers Deanna and Jim Malooley were named 2013 Warren County Conservation Farmers of the Year.
Marguerite Whildon started Sweetbay Cottage Hens after a 30-year career in various aspects of resource management. Her primary focus was in land management for flood mitigation, wetland protection, and watershed planning. “Often the lands I worked with were farms with severely eroded banks and soil loss or former farms under development for housing or commercial purposes,” says Marguerite.
Edward Marshall and Crystal Cook raise certified Animal Welfare Approved pigs at Pockerchicory Farms, located in Union Grove, North Carolina. The 40-acre farm is located on the rolling foothills of the southeastern edge of Appalachia, and consists of a largely wooded area and small pastures. Their pigs, a “farmers cross” of Tamworth, Duroc, and Berkshire breeds, are referred to by Edward as “the best employees”, since they work to restore and regenerate the land. Raised outdoors, on pasture, range, or in forest, where they are free to root and forage as pigs do naturally, the pigs at Pockerchicory Farms work to plow the land, plant seeds and then graze on the very crops they planted.
Working as a well-known public safety service dog trainer and certified police officer for the last 20 years, Tracy Sargent had little background in agriculture when she started Jumping Frog Farm in Cedartown, Georgia. But her strong drive to provide animals with an excellent life, as well as to create a self-sufficient property, motivated her to pursue her dream to have a livestock farm, and now her flock of laying hens is certified Animal Welfare Approved.
Benji Anderson raises Animal Welfare Approved pigs in northeast Georgia, just outside of Athens. A Georgia native, Benji grew up watching his uncle farm and developed a love of agriculture at an early age. After college and a brief stint as a biologist, Benji came back to farming. He worked for three years at a local farm raising pastured hogs and row crops, during which time he saved up enough money to put a down payment on his own farm.
Bill and Lee Barker moved to Polk County, North Carolina, in 2007, where they began to develop their nine-acre family farm. The Barkers raise AWA-certified goats and laying hens, as well as growing a range of fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers for sale to their local community.
William Snow has raised cattle since the 1980s, but a career in IBM meant his passion for cattle farming had to remain a hobby. In 2010, however, William’s dream of becoming a full time rancher came true. Based 200 miles from Washington DC, William and his wife, Melody, now own 120 acres of lush pasture in the rolling hills of Rockbridge County, Virginia, leasing a further a total of 1,000 acres of pasture and woodland for their beef cattle operation at Dutch Hollow Cattle Company.
When Irene was a child her family raised rabbits, chickens and ducks for meat and eggs. “My husband started hunting wild hogs when he was four-years-old with his dad in south Florida,” says Irene. “As he grew up, hunting got lean, so they started raising domestic hogs—nothing special, just chemical free, grain-fed pork. Over the past 24 years together, we have perfected our method of producing high-quality pastured pork. We decided we want to give the public better meat at better prices”.
By Animal Welfare Approved
| September 23, 2013
Doctor Steve Orr and Pam LaHay raise pastured beef cattle near Clinton, South Carolina at Dragonfly Orr-ganics, a third generation cattle farm. “Over the past few years we have focused on becoming a sustainable farm, utilizing rotational grazing practices and managing the pasture with great care,” says Steve. “We raise our cattle in an environment free of herbicides, fertilizers and pesticides, producing high-quality grassfed beef without hormones or antibiotics.”