Although Captain John S. Pope Farm has been family-run since 1852, it doesn’t mean cousins Bob and Tommy Pope are afraid to let in a couple hundred visitors. As part of a strategy to directly market their grassfed lamb they open their farm yearly to the Piedmont Farm Tour. Festivities include viewing the farm and animals, eating lamb dogs and lamb burgers, and a Saturday night “Dinner in the Big House” where a local chef showcases their meat along with other local gourmet fare.
Bob and Tommy believe that this agri-tourism is important for both business and customer relations; allowing transparency between people and their food on the farm creates trust and partnership. In fact, their reputable practices and the high demand for their lean, nutritious meat means they sell every lamb that they breed and that the lamb must be preordered to guarantee availability. Bob notes, “We just can’t raise them fast enough.” Rising awareness of the benefits of grassfed lamb, including higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, CLA, and Beta-carotene, have only served to increase consumer interest.
Maintaining ecological balance is also central to Bob and Tommy’s farming practices. They run a 100% grassfed operation, and don’t use hormones, antibiotics, herbicides, or pesticides. Their wetlands are fenced off from the animals for protection, and even their strategy to prevent predation is all-natural: llamas and Akbash-Maremma dogs guard the sheep. These ecologically conscious practices, on top of the Animal Welfare Approved label, give customers great confidence in the farm and allow Bob and Tommy to continue successfully selling their fine meat.