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By Animal Welfare Approved
| September 9, 2016
Julia Asherman moved to Georgia in 2009, after graduating college with a degree in fine art, and fell in love with the long growing season, hot summers, challenging soil and Southern country ways. With a green thumb inherited from both her mother and grandmother, she began farming and established Rag & Frass Farm in 2012, where she grows vegetables, cut flowers and raises Certified AWA laying hens and ducks for eggs.
With the help of student farmers, their families and teachers, Tania Herbert, farm manager of the Paideia School Farm, raises Certified AWA laying hens at a number of small urban farm sites for The Paideia School in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jamie and Jacqueline Baggett, along with their son, Jeremiah, and daughter, Isabella, raise Certified AWA pigs at Baggett Family Farm in Godwin, North Carolina. As a fourth generation farmer, Jamie grew up in a farming family, while Jacqueline, originally from Fayetteville, took up an interest in farming after meeting Jamie. The Baggetts are proud to grow corn and soybeans and raise Certified AWA pigs on land that has been passed down from Jamie’s grandfather.
Both Molly and Mike Peterson grew up in rural Illinois. Mike comes from a family with a long history of farming, and both recall vivid childhood memories around farming and agriculture. In 2008, they made their way to Virginia, where Mike was working as a cook and butcher at The Inn at Little Washington. “Mike was passing this pasture-based farm every day on his way into work, and he was also getting a little tired of the cook thing,” says Molly. “He was looking for something different, so he started interning at this farm and, pretty soon, started managing the farm.” Molly, a professional photographer, loved the scenery on the farm, the daily connection she had with the animals and being able to work side by side with Mike on a daily basis. In 2013, they bought the farm business and started a long-term lease—and have grown the business ever since. They now rent around 850 acres across five different farms, where they raise grassfed sheep.
Ben and Jennifer Rosecrans raise Certified AWA laying hens and pigs at Crossings Farm in Lexington, North Carolina. The Rosecrans family lives and farms land that has been in Jennifer’s family for more than 200 years. According to Jennifer, “At Crossings Farm, we look to produce healthy food while preserving the land that my family has cherished for so many years.”
Doug and Susan Schlosnagle, along with their daughter, Chelsey, and son, Jared, raise Certified AWA beef cattle at Dutch Creek Farm in Pleasureville, Kentucky. Doug and Susan have spent their entire lives as cattle breeders, and Chelsey and Jared are sixth generation family farmers. Chelsey graduated from the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture with a degree in Sustainable Agriculture, while Jared graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a degree in Agribusiness Management (and an emphasis in entrepreneurship). Both Chelsey and Jared are now farming full time with Doug and Susan, who have farmed at Dutch Creek Farm since 1981. The Schlosnagle family is committed to high-welfare, sustainable farm management practices that benefit the health of animals, humans and the environment.
Holly Whitesides and Andy Bryant are first generation famers raising Certified AWA laying hens, meat chickens, pigs, meat goats and beef cattle at Against the Grain Farm in Zionville, North Carolina. Holly became interested in farming in college, where she was inspired to become actively involved in doing something about the state of the food system. Andy and Holly gained farm experience individually before farming together for seven years. In 2012, they purchased the initial 18 acres of Against the Grain Farm. Over the years, they gradually increased their acreage and are now farming 35 acres. “It’s a typical mountain farm,” Holly explains. “The land is diverse, with some flat, tillable land along with mixed pasture and woods of varying degrees of slope and steepness.” Andy and Holly are joined on the farm by their 2-year-old daughter Beatrice, along with several farm interns.
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.
Paul Sozansky, his wife, Juliana, and daughter, Katie, raise Certified AWA pigs at Eagle Point Farms in Rogers, Arkansas. Growing up, both of Paul’s grandfathers were farmers, and his parents were avid gardeners. The Sozanskys began raising pigs in 2014, after they were introduced to the AWA program by another farmer in the area. “I have a caretaker’s DNA and enjoy raising pigs. It’s very new and exciting, and we’re still in the process of learning,” says Paul. “So far the best teachers have been the pigs!”
Mike Sands, along with spouse, Betsy Dietel, and son, Will Sands, raises Certified Grassfed by AGW sheep at Bean Hollow Grassfed in Flint Hill, Virginia, and has spent much of his life working in agriculture: “I’ve been working in farming and farmer training both nationally and internationally most of my career,” he says. “My focus has been on farming systems versus single commodities or products.”