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Meet the Farmer - Master Blend Family Farms

Meet the Farmer – Master Blend Family Farms

Leading By Example

Ronald Simmons (above) produces pasture-raised pigs and vegetables on 76 acres in Duplin County, North Carolina, the third generation to farm the land. Master Blend Family Farms supplies pork products to restaurants and high-end eateries across the East—and a major basketball stadium!

How did you get into farming?

My father-in-law was debating if he should sell the family farm after many years raising pigs. I asked him for an opportunity to give it a shot. That was basically the beginning of it. After that came lots of research through NC A&T, NC State and NC Cooperative Extension, as well as the gentlemen and women in my neighborhood with decades of experience. Learning about how they raised pigs was a big spark for me. As I learned more, things just gradually drew me to the Animal Welfare Approved certification program. The wealth of knowledge I found was very important.

Describe a typical day

I get started about 4:15am. To be successful, I believe you have to know what your purpose is. So, I start my day with a prayer to seek understanding. I always take time to look at my calendar before the day gets going. With the team, we evaluate what orders are going out, before loading trucks and tractors, moving equipment, checking livestock, water, feed and wires. I try to surround myself with people who have different and better strengths than me. A good team will catch things that could potentially fall through the cracks.

What do you love most about what you do?

The amazing combination of a peaceful natural environment and the constant challenge of implementing novel ranching practices. And doing it all with family.

Who are your customers?

Our customer base is the East Coast. From the individual consumers to the larger accounts, all share the same passion for high-quality, sustainable products. It was completely unforeseen that we’d get product to the Atlanta Hawks!

Sustainable farming: why does it matter?

Because you’re looking out for the next generation. I’m always adamant about leading by example for kids. The farm becomes a kind of classroom. You’re investing in the future of sustainable agriculture.

What’s the benefit of being certified by AGW?

It gives our customers a sense of confidence in knowing what we stand for and how we farm, and they are more willing to work with us.

What are your plans for the future?

We will see. My kids have and I have discussed their future in farming. We have a food truck that has gotten off to a great start. For now, our plans are to keep having fun and see where the company will take us.

What do you love most about what you do?

The people. Being able to meet them and have laughs. It’s amazing what humor can do. When you find common ground (through BBQ, for example) and everybody can eat, it makes it easier to talk about other issues. It helps people seek to listen not to facilitate a response, but to truly understand.

 

AT A GLANCE

Farm: Master Blend Family Farms, NC

Certification date: August 2013

Size: 46 acres pasture, 30 acres woodland

Soil type: Sandy soil and dark/rich loam

Altitude: 125 feet

Annual rainfall: 52 inches

Enterprises: 250 Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW hogs; Chester White, Berkshire and Yorkshire genetics

masterblendfarms.com

 

Photo Credit: Eric Waters, Farm Flavor Media

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