However, this warm spring weather (and super encouraging friends) is helping me jump back on the posting train with a lot of excitement. (yeay!). First let's start with the farm tour. (Next post is a delicious Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Brownie Bar... ohmygah.)
My beautiful friend Sarah and I decided to take part in the First Annual Midlands Farm Tour. She has wonderful blog and is an amazing photographer. (Please don't judge me for my iPhone pics. They really don't stand a chance to her beauties.) Instead, just check out her Farm Post and gorgeous photos here!
I first heard about the farm tour from one of the local vendors at Soda City (Columbia's Farmers Market on Main Street -- check it out!). There were 11 participating farms all throughout the midlands. Sadly, it was only for two days and we couldn't visit them all (not even half! so sad). But we did get to visit two of the farms and boy am I glad we chose those.
Overall, there were several key values that I loved about these two farms:
1. They are concerned with the quality and nutritional value of their products.
2. They are proactive to maintain their principals on the farm.
3. They are honest, hard working farmers.
Doko Farms was our first stop. Doko has been a family owned farm since the mid 1800s. It was a small, quaint farm where the animals could roam free and enjoy the land and sunlight. We were able to partake in the guided tour which was fascinating! We got to walk around the farm, learn about the breeds, learn why they chose those breeds and see how they lived their day to day lives. It. was. awesome. (!!!!).
We are excited to do this tour. ;)
Joe and his wife amanda now run the farm and choose a Heritage Breed for their poultry, pork and lamb. They prefer it for the superior meat (eggs included) that it provides. All the animals are pasture raised without antibiotics or hormones. They are able to graze as needed and fed what best suits their body.
Fun Fact: Apparently, most manufacturers raise Wool Sheep. They do this out of practicality. Once the sheep has met it's wool quota, then it is sent to the slaughter house. Usually that means the sheep is older. The Heritage Sheep at Doko farms are raised for their meat, not their wool. The meat is said to be more flavorful and they do not produce wool like Wool Sheep do. Interesting! (oh... that's only interesting to me?? ...)
As for the chickens, they are a Heritage Breed as well (remember poultry, pork and lamb). And this is where I can attest to their superior flavor of meat and eggs. You can taste the difference in farm raised vs store bought. Go test it out for yourself!! Once the chickens are ready to harvest, they are sent to the Kings Tree humanely raised processing plant.
The pork I have not tasted yet but am looking forward to it!! We bought some sausage and I plan to cook myself a delish breakfast here soon. It's weird to say right after that... but those pigs were ADORABLE! Seriously, I might want one.
Ok, this guy isn't exactly adorable... but the babies were!! Sarah got good pics of those!
Really bad shot. I only have an iPhone so no judging allowed.
Wil-Moore Farms was our second stop. I absolutely love this vendor at Soda City. I usually buy my eggs from them and have been drooling over their meat and butter (to make Ghee with). They are such a sweet family!
The pardoned family pet Shank.
What I so value about this family farm is the way they strive to live by their principals. Since I have bought their eggs for months now, I knew that the chickens were previously free range. So when I asked Keith (the farmer) when they had moved the chickens into cages, his response was astounding. He told me that everyone wants to live ideally. Their family wants to farm ideally. But sometimes, the ideal lifestyle isn't realistic. But even when you can't live ideally, you can still live by your principals.
This is where the cages came into play. He told me that free range was the ideal lifestyle that he wanted for the chickens. However, the predators that were eating his chickens was a growing issue. As this family is supported by the farm only, the financial loss for each chicken was a problem they couldn't continue to have. He was loosing money by loosing these chickens to predators. As such, he had to give up the ideal lifestyle but he refused to give up his principals. As an organic farmer, he lowered his chicken count to meet the organic requirements so that they would have enough room to move and be comfortable. He sacrificed the number of chickens that he could make money on in order to continue to live by his principals.
That is a family farm I want to support. People who live by their principals. People who show respect not only to others, but also to animals -- who are also God made creatures, are they not?
Both Wil-Moore and Doko Farms had many more wonderful features that I would love to tell you about, but I do realize not everyone loves farms like I do. You can check out their site via the links above. They are both honest and quality geared farms that are worth supporting!
Thanks to Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) and Whole Foods Market for sponsoring The Midlands Farm Tour. It was wonderful!