More and more families in Mississippi want to know where their food comes from and have come to depend on poultry, eggs, turkeys, and pork raised naturally, locally, and sustainably from our small farm in Cedar Bluff. Our farm has grown to the limits of the current “1000 bird exemption”; and in order to sustain our farm, meet new regulations, and keep Mississippi supplied with pastured farm products, we will have to build a new, on-site processing facility which will allow us to process up to 20,000 birds each year on our farm.
We look at ourselves as soil farmers, with food being a byproduct of our soil building operations. We know that without healthy soils, you cannot grow healthy plants or animals and without healthy plants or animals, you cannot have healthy people.
At first we were afraid that we would not have any customers,” says Ali, “but, as people began to hear about how we raise our animals, they were so excited! Our business grew more quickly than we had imagined. We have felt so much appreciation and support from our customers and our communities.” Now, Beaverdam Fresh Farms is a household name in many parts of the state. And, it’s only been three years!
Mississippi is ready for the growth and development of our chemical-free, small farmers and food producers. There is a groundswell of small-scale farmers and farmers’ markets brimming with new life across the state. It is exciting to watch; and, on a more somber note, it is imperative that we steward this new growth forward, not only for our families and future generations, but for the regeneration and health of the land as well.
We raise our animals in a dynamic way using pasture, forest, and locally milled feed, and animals are moved to fresh pasture on a daily or weekly basis. Creating a perfect balance between manure fertilizing and grazing only to the point where herbs and grasses grow optimally. Our farming practices build up the soils, increasing nutrients all the way up the food chain. There are many biological, ethical and sustainable reasons we farm this way, and yet one key issue is the correlation between health and high quality, local food.
Even though small farms used to be the backbone of Mississippi, the knowledge and traditions have gone by the wayside. We feel that small farms are the only sustainable way forward, and we are proud to help pave the way for small farms again in our state. We have been in dialogue with Mississippi governing agencies to find a compromise between large scale poultry regulations and our needs.
We hope that our building of this processing facility, moving forward with obtaining a permit, and completing inspections will create a replicable model for others and will increase the number of small pasture rotation farms in the South. We know that this next step is a big one, not only for us, but for the future of sustainable farming in Mississippi and the health of its families. So, feel free to pitch in, share this campaign in your network, and let’s grow!
Thank you for your support! Ali and Dustin, Beaverdam Fresh Farms www.beaverdamfreshfarms.com
Risks and challenges
The biggest problem we are facing is we are charting unknown waters. Regulations and recommendations are in place for large scale chicken processing plants in Mississippi, but not for small farms like us. The Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Health are willing to work with us to build a state-approved processing facility. While we have not received much advanced directive, these departments have pledged to guide us through the process of building a processing facility capable suited for handling up to 20,000 birds a year. We might incur higher costs as their inspectors come in, but we will manage as best as we can.
We are absolutely determined to do what it takes for the sustainability of our farms, and to also serve as a model for future small scale poultry farms.
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