When Ron and Terri Luce’s small business went under in 2008, they took it as a sign. They’d been given the opportunity to go home, so they returned to the farm that has been in Terri’s family since Poppa Skinny farmed it naturally at the turn of the 20th Century. Seeing the extent of our modern food system problems, Terri and Ron knew they wanted to be self-sufficient for the benefit of their family and wanted to produce food sustainably for the benefit of all. Since Poppa Skinny’s Farm hadn’t been farmed in over twenty years, ensuring their produce was chemical free was simple, but today they are more proud of raising their laying hens, pigs, dairy goats and beef cattle on pasture. “My chickens eat bugs,” says Terri, pleased that her animals are allowed to be animals.
It is important to Terri’s customers that she is raising her livestock according to AWA’s rigorous standards. “All my animals have intrinsic value beyond what they produce. You can raise animals and eat them and they don’t have to be miserable.” While sustainable farming is not a “get-rich quick thing,” Terri is happy to be moving towards self-sufficiency—making cheese and butter for her family and growing vegetables and feed crops to maintain the farm—with the help of her husband, their grandson, Kaden, and Terri’s parents, who spoil the animals rotten and collect eggs from the chickens.
“It’s important to eat organic and healthy,” says Terri. “But it’s more important to be humane. That we would benefit from the suffering of another animal is unacceptable.” If the organic fad passes, “we’ll still be here,” she says, raising their livestock and growing vegetables like Poppa Skinny did—the old fashioned way.