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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.
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.
Growing up in southern California, Jean Andersen never set foot on a farm—even as the child of farmers. Jean’s father, an aerospace engineer, was raised on a dairy farm in Missouri and instilled a love for farming in Jean so strong that when Jean and her husband moved to North Carolina in 1995, Jean’s mother said, “You know, I always knew you’d end up on a farm one day.” That farm is Meadowview Farm—16 acres nestled in the hills of Stanly County.
Chad and Bishop Hunter raise Certified AWA beef cattle on pasture at Hunter Farms in Jakin, Georgia. Hunter Farms, Inc. was established in 1937 by John Wesley Hunter, Sr., and his children have maintained his legacy by managing the 1,000-acre farm in sunny, southwest Georgia ever since.
Brothers on Farms is a family operation named after brothers Andrei and Dmitry Ward, who came to the U.S. at the age of 2 and 3 from Moscow, Russia. Their mother, Susan Ward, was dedicated to raising her sons in a farming environment with good food and surrounded by animals. At the ages of 11 and 12, the boys decided they wanted to give back to the farm, initially cultivating oyster and shiitake mushrooms for sale at local markets. The family has now expanded into producing AWA lamb, and is planning to expand this operation even further.
Edward Taylor raises AWA laying hens on a diversified farm located between Mount Yonah and the Chattahoochee River in Georgia. Indian Ridge farmland rests on ground that has historical and cultural importance for the Cherokee nation, and each year the Taylors host a celebration of this land for the Cherokee community.
Charles and Barbara Kissling raise AWA beef cattle in the mountains of western North Carolina. Charles originally hails from New Jersey, with a background in the restaurant business, while Barbara comes from a more agricultural heritage. Realizing their skills were complementary, the couple began raising beef cattle on 160 acres on Carter Cove in 2001, and have been expanding and improving the herd ever since.
Riverstone Organic Farm raises AWA sheep in the rolling hills of Virginia. Owners Woody and Jackie Crenshaw started the farm as a way to foster sustainable land stewardship, promote the local economy, and provide young farmers with learning opportunities. With the help of farm managers, Clem Swift and Kat Johnson, they currently have about 40 breeding ewes and 40 lambs each spring.