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Laura and Robin Sage have a deep love for the outdoors. They worked as educators and guides for many years but eventually put down roots in the Pacific Northwest. They had been producing their own food for a while before they decided to make a living through farming. To make the transition easier, Robin took on a year-long apprenticeship on a pasture-based livestock operation. They found land to lease soon after the apprenticeship ended—and their farming career began!
Shawn Ueda has had a love for growing things for as long as he can remember. Unfortunately, he wasn’t raised to believe farming was a viable career option, and it wasn’t until his retirement years that he finally decided to take agriculture more seriously. By this time, his home garden and backyard chicken operation had become sizeable, so he decided to start selling excess to his local community and through farmers’ markets. Shawn also regularly donates his produce and eggs to the local food pantry: “Those in need should not have to live on poor quality produce,” he says. “We want everyone to share in our bounty of pesticide-free and nutritionally-dense eggs and vegetables.”
Dru Yeager raises Certified AWA laying ducks outdoors on pasture in Powderhorn, Colorado. The farm consists of 50 acres of range located in a canyon, about 40 miles from Gunnison and Lake City. The property features ideal habitat for her ducks and includes a running water source: “We’re surrounded by mountains here!” says Dru. “I love watching the ducks swim around in the pond, acting out their natural behaviors. They’re very smart, too, and herd themselves into the coop at night.”
Dan and Asunta Presson raise Certified AWA laying hens on 15 acres in the foot hills of the Sierra Mountains in Marysville, CA, with 10 acres of open grassland and 5 acres of woodlot. The Pressons have been farming for the past five years and found they have a particular affinity for raising chickens outdoors on pasture.
Rosemary Ishkanian raises Certified AWA laying ducks and geese at Willow Wood Farm on the Saanich peninsula of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Farming has been a part of Rosemary’s life from a very early age, growing up in a rich agricultural area of Scotland. For the past few years, she has lived on a historical 10.5-acre property near Saanichton with a long homesteading heritage.
Cynthia Daley and her team raise Certified AWA dairy cattle at Sweet Grass Organics in Oroville, California. Sweet Grass Organics is a farmstead creamery, nestled in the rolling oak hills of the Sierra Mountains. The unique microclimate allows for year-round grazing, with pasture grasses and forages throughout the summer and fall, followed by native cool season grasses, forbs and clovers during the winter and spring months.
Jim Kunetz and his family raise Certified AWA and Certified Grassfed by AGW sheep and beef cattle, and Certified AWA pigs and laying hens at Greene Jungle Farm, located in the rolling hills of Ridgefield in southwest Washington.
Rob Holley’s grandfather, Cecil, purchased Dayton Valley property in 1970, and he and his son, Bill, soon developed a reputation for raising quality beef cattle and hay. Now, more than 45 years later, Rob and his family (wife Loni, and children Daniel, Caleb, and Anna) continue the family farming tradition by raising Certified AWA laying hens, dairy cattle and Certified Grassfed by AGW beef cattle at Holley Family Farms in Dayton, Nevada.
Felicity Wilson and Gordon Sweetnam began operating Kelowna Free Graze Lamb in 2014. Kelowna is a happy medium between Edmonton, Alberta, where Gordon grew up, and Felicity’s childhood home on Vancouver Island. As a meat sheep operation with an on-site slaughter plant, Kelowna Free Graze Lamb also combined their talents and interests: Gordon, who has an extensive livestock management background and most recently came from a Certified AWA cattle operation in Alberta, would focus on animal husbandry; while Felicity took responsibility for the farm’s slaughter plant and vegetable production.