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One of the first things Liann Finnerty and Dan Long did when they bought five acres of land in Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington in 2011 was to buy a small flock of laying hens. Although Dan had raised chickens before, it was Liann’s first experience of raising animals for food. But those few birds proved to be the start of a new farm business: Today, Dan and Liann manage 100 Certified AWA laying hens at Wide Sky Farm on four acres of pasture overlooking Puget Sound.
Nate and Janya Veranth’s journey to becoming farmers didn’t start until 2007. They were living and going to school in Seattle and wanted open space for their three adopted border collies. After much searching, the couple finally found an old forest property on 40 acres in Duvall, 25 miles northeast of Seattle. After moving to the property in 2007, Nate and Janya spent the next five years building infrastructure before they began adding livestock to the farm they named Redfeather.
Hilly and partially forested, Hanchett Farm is a 300-acre farm on the island of Kauai, where Keoa Hanchett’s pasture-raised chickens have plenty of room to roam, forage, and produce his sought after Certified AWA chicken eggs.
In 2011, Rebecca Wellman and Michael Kelly moved to Trout Lake, Washington, to farm land Rebecca’s family purchased in 2004. Located near the Columbia River Gorge, Sunnybrook Farm’s 44 acres is nestled among some of the most breathtaking mountains in the country, and is a beautiful mix of fields and forest, watered by irrigation ditches channeling glacial water from nearby Mount Adams.
After 22 years working in the high-tech industry in California’s Silicon Valley, Alison Charter-Smith wanted to do something truly worthwhile. She had already bought 97 acres of land near the mountain town of Felton, about six miles north of Santa Cruz, California, with her husband, Tony Jaehnichen. In 2010, she quit her job and began farming full time, establishing a flock of pasture-raised laying hens, which she housed in the big chicken coop that already existed on the property. In 2011, Tony sold his business and joined Alison on the farm. Alison and Tony named the farm Madrone Coast Farm, after the madrone trees that populate much of their land, along with redwoods, oak and maples. Their goal was to contribute to their community by producing great food.
By Animal Welfare Approved
| September 30, 2014
In 2004, Dawn and Don Shelstad decided they wanted to begin growing food for their community. In the time it took them to find a suitable piece of land, they began researching sustainable farming methods and learning from more knowledgeable friends. They eventually established Prairie Haven Farm on a windy, arid piece of land in the high desert prairie, east of Colorado Springs. The Shelstads started with a small number of chickens, adapting the most holistic methods for animal husbandry practices they had learned. Today, the farm is home to 50 Certified AWA laying hens and nine Certified AWA dairy cattle, and Dawn and Don hope that their successes at a small scale will encourage others to start small, too.
Meagan Schalich’s grandfather established a sheep and chicken ranch in 1920, just one and half miles away from her and husband Brady’s current farm in Petaluma, California. For nine years the couple lived in a 100-year-old farm house on her family’s property until they were able to find their own land nearby in 2011. Brady, a contractor by trade, built the couple’s home and they went to work establishing Old Seeder Farm on the four-acre property, named after an ancient piece of farm equipment they unearthed while pruning an overgrown oak tree.
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.