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Joia Food Farm farmer profile

Jóia Food Farm – Charles City, IA

Wendy Johnson and her husband, John, raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) 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 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.

Finally, year-round supply of quality grass and forage is particularly important for the AGW-certified sheep at Jóia Food Farm, which carry the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW and Certified Grassfed by AGW labels. 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.

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 pork and Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW lamb and wool from Jóia Food Farm is available directly from the farm, through their buying clubs, on their website and at select local retailers and restaurants. Jóia Food Farm also sells sleeping products made from Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW wool available with nationwide shipping at Counting Sheep Sleep Company. For more information, visit joiafoodfarm.com or contact Wendy Johnson at info@joiafoodfarm.com and 641-228-1583. Follow the farm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and follow Counting Sheep Sleep Company on Facebook and Instagram.

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