Wendy Johnson and her husband, John, raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) and Certified Non-GMO by AGW laying hens, pigs and Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW, Certified Non-GMO by AGW sheep on pasture at their farm near Charles City in northern Iowa.
“We began Jóia Food Farm out of a desire to connect with our food and to live a life filled with intention and genuine purpose,” explains Wendy. “A life that integrates family, community, the work we do and the food we raise.”
With sights on transitioning more acres to certified organic, the Johnsons’ goal is to be completely self-sustainable: “We believe in the principles of agroecology, a whole systems approach to agriculture, linking ecology, culture, economics and society,” Wendy says. “We focus on having biodiversity, with animals and crops working together to create healthy soils, healthy animals, healthy plants, a healthy environment and, most importantly, healthy food.”
The Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW and Certified Non-GMO by AGW pigs at Jóia Food Farm are predominantly Berkshire/Gloucestershire Old Spots crosses. Wendy and John integrate the pigs in their cropping rotation by providing them with access to pasture or range between cropping years. The rooting activity of the pigs helps keep invasive weeds in check, as well as adding organic matter and fertility to the soil between crops. This rotational management also helps minimize the buildup of parasites and disease and improve the health of the pigs, providing diversity in their diet. Raising pigs outdoors allows for a more natural approach, and the animals have plenty of room to demonstrate natural behaviors like wallowing, grazing and rooting.
The Johnsons also raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Non-GMO by AGW laying hens outdoors, where the birds have continuous access to pasture or range. “We have a mix of heritage breed laying hens that lay predominantly brown and white eggs,” explains Wendy. “Contrary to popular myth, the white eggs are just as delicious and nutritious as brown eggs! Our customers always tell us how brilliant orange our yolks are and how flavorful they are in comparison to store bought eggs.” Jóia Food Farm is committed to encouraging the natural behaviors of their laying hens, raising them outdoors where they can flap their wings freely, run, dust bathe, and peck and scratch for grubs and seeds. Pasture-based management not only provides the highest welfare conditions for the hens, but also produces healthier eggs containing three times as much vitamin E, seven times more beta-carotene, and twice the omega-3 fatty acids as industrial eggs—not to mention, delicious tasting eggs!
Finally, year-round supply of quality grass and forage is particularly important for the AGW-certified sheep at Jóia Food Farm, which carry all three certifications offered by A Greener World—Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW and Certified Non-GMO by AGW. The Certified Grassfed by AGW program is the first—and only—food label in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100 percent grass and forage diet and raised entirely outdoors on pasture or range; Certified Non-GMO by AGW is the only certification and logo in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees a food product is produced without the use of genetically modified feed, supplements or ingredients, and comes from animals managed according to the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW leading welfare and environmental standards on an independent farm.
Wendy and John are striving to become “better grass farmers,” introducing intensive rotational grazing management and learning about the soil life and how to better protect and nurture the world beneath our feet. “Farming is an always learning occupation, we can now add biologist to our list of farming responsibilities,” Wendy says. “We live in a very linked and cyclical world. There is this amazing world below us which is in every way an integral part of our farming system. We need to respect what the soil fungi and bacteria do, because they help achieve better forages, a better environment and thus better food.”
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Non-GMO by AGW pork, chicken eggs and Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW and Certified Non-GMO by AGW lamb from Jóia Food Farm is available directly from the farm, through their buying clubs, on their website and at select local retailers and restaurants. For more information, visit joiafoodfarm.com or contact Wendy Johnson at email@example.com and 641-228-1583. Follow the farm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.