Farmers Samantha and Scott Gasson and their three children raise AWA laying hens and sheep on 35 acres of pasture near Rougemont, North Carolina. The farm comprises of five acres of land they owned with their home, together with 30 acres rented from their neighbor.
Samantha was raised in England, before moving to America with her family some time ago. She met Scott in the early 1990s during her time working as a zoo keeper. Bull City Farm was first conceptualized in 1993 when the couple decided to start a life together. The idea finally became a reality when they bought a small farm in Rougemont and started collecting animals. Although they had no previous farming experience, their time working with animals as zoo keepers meant the thought of a cow never worried them. They took to farming like ducks to water, becoming very active in the local 4H. The push they needed to change from a hobby farm into a working farm came in late 2009, when Samantha and Scott were asked to raise 40 heifers for a local dairy near Asheboro, and Bull City Farm was born.
The flock of 200 chickens at Bull City Farm is made up of hardy, traditional breeds, such as Buff Orpington and Rhode Island Reds, which are kept for their brown eggs, as well as Brown Leghorns, which produce a brilliant white egg. The Gassons also keep a number of the slightly less productive Americauna breed (also known as the Easter egg chicken) for their lovely green shelled eggs. “The wonderfully colorful boxes are very popular with our customers,” Samantha explains.
The Gassons also have a flock of St Croix and Katahdin sheep, which follow or graze alongside the chickens to keep the pastures clean and neat. As well as producing some fabulous lamb, the breeds are hairless and Samantha has found the sheep have adapted very well to the hot weather they experience in North Carolina and she does not have to worry about routine shearing.
Bull City Farm use a rotational grazing strategy, which allows them to graze one section of pasture at a time, grazing the sheep after their herd of cattle to keep the grass short and in good condition. Samantha and Scott find this approach works very well and leads to hardly any problems with parasite control.
As Samantha explains, after previously looking at AWA, they decided the time was right to join the program: “AWA was a natural choice for us and allows us to demonstrate our commitment to the highest environmental and welfare practices. AWA is a label that customers really can trust.” The Gassons appreciate the range of support AWA offers farmers in the program. “The AWA-branded egg boxes are a real hit with customers and allow our farm’s ethos to really shine through,” says Samantha.
As well as following AWA’s standards, Samantha and Scott feel very strongly about the role the farm should play in educating schoolchildren about where their food comes from—particularly in an urban county. The couple regularly hosts tours, camps, and classes on the farm for the local community. “We recognize the importance of getting kids involved in farming as young as possible to provide experiences that will aid them throughout their lives, Samantha explains. “Our 4-H group has grown from 5 to 23 kids over the last five years, making it the largest animal husbandry group in Durham County.”
Selling directly from the farm gate and at a local farmers’ market, the couple plans to introduce a beef program on the farm to enhance the range of products available to customers. Samantha and Scott are particularly proud that their daughter wishes to continue her education in sustainable agriculture, something that has become very important to the family.
For more information about Bull City Farm, and where to buy products, visit www.bullcityfarm.com or contact the farm on (919) 477-6684.