Shanen and Beau Ebersole moved to Kellerton, a small town “down in the hills,” 80 miles south of Des Moines, Iowa in 1999 to raise a family. Although Shanen had raised horses, she was a city girl who says she never would have considered eating an animal she had known—until she married a cattleman. After five years of raising a small herd and selling their calves in the conventional market, the Ebersoles began finishing their cattle on the farm in a rotational grazing system. This allowed them to focus on what Shanen says is “truly the most important thing—how we handle and care for the cattle.” Ensuring high-welfare husbandry practices for their cattle also ensures better quality beef that results in better tasting steak, she believes.
After relocating to Alabama from Gulfport, MS in 2007 following Hurricane Katrina, Cricket and Kim began farming just one acre with the intention of producing enough food for their family to be self-sufficient. When they realized their little acre was producing far more than they could eat, the Adams started selling their excess produce at farmers markets. Now, they are growing produce on 10 acres and raising their AWA-certified laying hens on 16 acres of pasture for local farmers’ markets, stores and their CSA.
Svetlana and Marty Simon raise over 30 diverse breeds of laying hens on their 15-acre farm in Boynton Beach, an otherwise suburban community in south Florida. Their chickens are truly free-ranging, living outside on pastures all year, where they can scratch and peck, spread their wings, take dirt baths, and search for grubs and seeds to eat.
Waverly Farms is a sustainably managed and fully integrated farm with multiple species of animals and plants. With the help of dedicated staff and interns, farmers Stuart and Patti Rosenberg raise Animal Welfare Approved laying hens and goat breeding stock. The Rosenbergs are committed to farming without the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, growth hormones, preventive antibiotics, or preservatives. Patti explains, “We participate in conservation and educational programs and practice livestock exclusion of our waterways, rotational grazing, composting, organic gardening, and strict animal welfare. This is our way of reducing disease, feed costs, and parasites.”
Caitlyn Blum’s decision to study animal science at North Carolina State University inspired her family to acquire six baby chicks in 2008, with the intention of producing healthy eggs for the family’s consumption.
Today, the Blums run Yellow Barn Family Farm in White Plains, Viriginia, and their flock of Animal Welfare Approved chickens has grown to 50 hens, while a small herd of AWA-certified dairy goats provide more milk than the family can consume. After managing the NC State University dairy, Caitlyn returned home and began working alongside her mother, Carrie, and her younger sister, Chloe, to produce eggs, dairy and vegetables for their local community. “When we started farming, we just wanted to produce healthy food for our family,” says Caitlyn. “But now our goal is to supply our products to others who share our goals of sustainability and animal welfare.”
Anna-Maria Nicolov raises Animal Welfare Approved laying hens at Pine Hill Farm in Hemmingford, Quebec. Over the last ten years organic egg production has been one of Pine Hill’s main focuses along with learning to make their own hay, a satisfying and cost saving activity for the farm.
Hawthorne Valley Farm has been producing high quality, Biodynamic and organic foods and providing farm-based education opportunities for children and adults since 1972. The farm was established by a group of educators, farmers, and artisans in response to the troubling loss of small family farms and what they perceived as a threat to childhood development posed by an increasingly materialistic and mechanistic world view. Now the farm is joined by a Waldorf school, ecology and research centers, and a publishing house, all part of the non-profit Hawthorne Valley Association.
| August 13, 2011
Ever heard of the term “you are what you eat?” Well, no one takes this more seriously than today’s top athletes. They need to ensure that their bodies receive the correct balance of nutrients and energy and avoid potentially harmful additives. So it’s no surprise to find that top athletes are turning to sustainably produced foods to ensure their success.
I know this first-hand from conversations I have had with Will Witherspoon, linebacker for the Tennessee Titans – and sustainable farmer. Will is a unique human being; a gentle, humble and quiet spoken man whose day job is making the quarterback’s life as uncomfortable as possible. He’s also passionate about producing sustainable, healthy and nutritious food on his family farm, Shire Gate Farm, near Owensville, Missouri.
Through our farming connection, I have been very fortunate to have got to know Will and he’s become a family friend. On several occasions, he has given both my sons one of those talks that only a true sportsman can. As any dad knows, we can talk until we are blue in the face about the need to eat well and look after yourself, and to dedicate yourself to your sport. Yet after one minute chat with Will, my boys are immediately re-energized and focused.
In the summer of 2009, Daniel and Laurie Brooks made the decision to leave the family farm in New York state where Daniel was raised and the couple had lived for 28 years. After many months of searching, their daughter Margot, who manages Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, Vermont, sent home some photos of an old blind African Grey goose that had wandered into her yard mourning the death of its mate. When she found the goose’s owner down the road, she learned that he was planning to sell. This neighborly visit led to the purchase, in January 2011 of the Brooks’ new family home, and its name, Wayward Goose Farm, as well as a lasting partnership between the new farm and Consider Bardwell Farm.
While Rhonda Butler and her husband David Brunner came from farming communities in Tennessee and Ohio, they hadn’t farmed before 1988 when they bought Asgaard Farm, situated in New York’s North Country, with a view of the Adirondack Mountains. After years of renovations and building, the historic dairy was reestablished with just two kids bought from a neighbor. Today, they are milking 48 goats and 80 to 90 kids are born each year. When they added the Alpine and Nubian goats to their 1930s-era dairy, they immediately fell in love with the animals and they became the anchor of an operation that has grown to include Animal Welfare Approved beef cattle and laying hens as well. David manages the Red Angus, Hereford, and Devon cattle herd, with the help of Shannon Eaton and Billy Lincoln, who also manage the livestock. Their pasture-raised chickens are Araucana, Silver Spangled, and Black Australorps.