In late October 2009, Stephanie and Andy Schneider purchased a 60-acre abandoned farm about 10 miles from Mondovi, WI, and named it Together Farms.
Their decision to start operating a high-welfare, sustainable farm came as a result of their desire to live in a way that is ethical and sustainable, and their wish to support their local community by producing food in the healthiest, sustainable way possible. “Our motto is ‘We’re all in this Together’,” Stephanie explains. “Our mission as caretakers of this small piece of land is to preserve biodiversity, restore soil health, and strive towards implementing a sustainable farm ecosystem.”
Swallow Valley Farm was established in 2006 when Nick Colby, a former professor of anthropology, purchased the land in Valley Ford. The farm is about 15 miles south-west of Santa Rosa, California. Nick’s goal was to produce the most nutrient-dense foods possible, including pastured and grassfed meats and dairy, from traditional breeds. The farm was named after the several hundred cliff, barn and violet green swallows who share the habitat in the picturesque hills of Valley Ford.
For three generations the Hill family has operated their grassfed Angus operation on the beautiful rolling hills of Louisburg, Kansas. The Hills are passionate about producing the healthiest, safest and highest quality grassfed beef possible. The Angus cattle are born, raised and finished on open grass pastures. The farm’s management practices are centered on respect for the environment and respect for the cattle.
Dorothy Benedict raises Animal Welfare Approved wool and meat sheep in Western Massachusetts. In addition to the horses that she’s had since childhood, before raising sheep, she ran a goat dairy and creamery at Windy Hamlet Farm. Since 2005 she has been raising Icelandic sheep, a hardy breed known for its excellent wool. The breed is well-adapted to living on pasture and requires no supplemental grain. The colorful sheep can be black, brown, grey, white or spotted and lambs are born with short tails so tail docking, a welfare issue for sheep, is not necessary. Dorothy, a felter and weaver, uses the Icelandic wool from her sheep to felt, spin and dye.
Lawrence and Cynthia Blakemore have owned Blakemore Farm in upstate New York on the Vermont border between the Adirondack and Green Mountains since 1979. The couple began the farm with a couple of dairy calves for their son’s 4-H showing and the beginnings of a Hereford herd which in time grew to over 50 cows and calves. With the arrival of their first grandchild, they sold the herd to have time to visit their son and his family, who lived several hours away.
Six years ago, farmer Lisa Duff moved to Oak Spring Farm with her husband, Steven, and their children, Sammi, Henry and Isabelle. Although the land was originally part of a much larger property, it had not been farmed for more than a decade before the Duffs purchased the farmhouse and surrounding five acres.
Raising chickens, gardening, and riding horses during her childhood had inspired Lisa to study Integrated Biology at college, which led on to a career as a high school science teacher. With a passion for the environment, Lisa sponsored a garden club at her school, where raising vegetables was an integral part of the general science curriculum. When the Duffs moved to the farm, Lisa began farming on a small scale. Her primary goal was that the farm should provide her family with wholesome, sustainable, and safe food. However, Lisa’s love of growing food quickly developed into a passion for sharing it with others, giving her a strong sense of place and purpose.