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Jackie Rossignol and Denis Black both come from farming backgrounds: Jackie’s parents were dairy farmers in New England and Denis’s family ranched in northeast New Mexico. They both studied agriculture—Jackie at the University of Connecticut and Denis at the University of New Mexico. When they eventually got together it just seemed inevitable that they would farm together.
Christy and Patrick Lohof raise 65 Red Angus-based beef cattle near Otter, Montana. The Lohof beef cattle run on 3,000 acres of rolling rangeland at 3,700 feet elevation. While some grasses were seeded in the 1960s, the majority of the grassland is made up of hardy natives that thrive in the temperature and precipitation extremes of eastern Montana, and their cattle, like their pastures, are well-adapted to the landscape.
Dede Boies and David Evershed established Root Down Farm in 2013 in the Cloverdale Valley in Pescadero, California. Dede and David’s proposal to raise livestock outdoors on pasture at the 62-acre property owned by the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) was chosen by a panel of local farmers for their shared vision of community-building through sustainable food production. “Our mission is to raise the healthiest animals possible in the most humane way, and to leave this land better than we found it,” Dede explains. Today, they raise AWA-certified meat chickens in 200-bird flocks for marketing within the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast region.
Anita Moss and her husband, Jesse Drager, bought 10 acres of pine-covered high desert in Mora, New Mexico in 2004. She began raising a small number of chickens outdoors on pasture so she would no longer have to buy eggs produced by corporate farms. However, it wasn’t long before she was producing enough eggs for her family and several neighbors, too. Anita increased production further and began to supply pasture-raised eggs to the Los de Mora Local Growers’ Cooperative, Inc., a local producer-owned cooperative made up of 35 small family farms and ranches. In 2014, Anita sought AWA certification after the Cooperative made AWA certification a requirement for all its livestock producers.
Situated about six miles north-west of Galt, California, Kingbird Farms is a 5-acre mixed farm, set within the 46,000-acre Cosumnes River Preserve. The Preserve is an important wildlife habitat and is home to numerous migratory birds, such as the Western Kingbird—a grey and yellow songbird that is abundant on the property from April to September, and from which the farm takes its name.
Martha Jones grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, but always wanted to live on a farm. In 2008, she and her husband, Lloyd, bought 38 acres of high desert in Byers, Colorado, where they could start the farm she’d always dreamed of.
Ben Lyons raises laying hens on pasture at Lockewood Acres, a 10-acre family farm in Vacaville, California. Ben and his wife, Denise, moved to the property from southern California for Denise’s work in April 2010. Inspired by a 1954 worm composting publication that highlighted a farm called Serenity Acres, they began to develop their own self-sustaining family farm that would be not only economically viable, but would act as a one-stop shop for local customers who can come to their farm for fruits and vegetables, eggs, meat and milk before going to the grocery store.
By Andrew Gunther
| January 24, 2014
Pie Ranch is a model center for sustainable farming and food system education, sitting on a 14-acre triangular plot of land on California’s San Mateo coast. Nancy Vail, Jered Lawson, and Karen Heisler purchased the property in 2002 and, inspired by the shape of the plot and their belief that pie (with all its ingredients and associations) is a great means for understanding how food gets from the land to our tables, the partners gave the farm its distinctly fitting name.
Belinda and David Gutierrez manage Local Yolk, a pasture-raised laying hen operation, at Pilot Creek Ranch, a 970-acre property in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Belinda and David returned to the ranch, which has been in David’s family since the late 1800s, in 2006 and began raising laying hens on the family’s property in 2013. They raise 500 AWA-certified Black Austrolorp ,Ameraucana, and Rhode Island Red laying hens outdoors on pasture.