The herd of beef cattle and flock of sheep at Liberty Farms in Ghent, NY…
Lee and Georgia Ranney—and their meat chickens and sheep—all live the good life at Kinderhook Farm in Valatie, New York. “When we first started with the farm,” Lee says, “there was minimal fencing and pasture water, so we knew we had our work cut out to move to an intensive rotational grazing system. It’s been years of hard work, putting up miles of fencing and placing water systems, but it’s all been worth it. We really wanted to get the animals outside on pasture where they belong.”
While living and farming in West Virginia, Lee and Georgia became friends with Steve Clearman, who came to West Virginia to visit family. “Lee and Steve always talked about farming together, and when this farm came up for sale, they decided it was the perfect opportunity,” Georgia explains. “They thought the farm would be perfect for a grazing farm.” So Steve and his wife, Renee, bought Kinderhook Farm, and Lee and Georgia became partners with them on the farm.
Kinderhook Farm came with Jules Rutschmann and Harry Lobdell, both having worked here for many years. “We are fortunate to have Jules and Harry working with us,” Lee says. “We couldn’t have made the transition from a conventional farm to a grazing farm without them. Jules and Harry appreciate the intensive grazing system that we have built here. We all like seeing the improvement to the pastures and hayfields. Visitors to the farm love it, too. They like looking at the animals out on pasture. The fact that it looks like a farm, with animals roaming the fields, gets people excited about farms and farming.”
The Ranneys heard about Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW from another certified farmer who had recently been certified by the program. “We were impressed with the AGW auditor who came to look at our farm,” Georgia says about the application process. “They were knowledgeable and understood the animals and the land. We felt good knowing the standards were high and that the label would give our customers independent proof that we treat our animals well and allow them to be themselves. People coming to the farm store and learning about grassfed sheep are also interested in how the animals are treated, so AGW’s Certified Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Grassfed by AGW labels give them another reason to be confident in our practices.”
In 2015, Kinderhook Farm became the first farm in the U.S. to attain Certified Grassfed by AGW status for their sheep flock. “We’ve been working with A Greener World for several years now,” says Georgia. “We enjoy our annual audit as we find the questions about all aspects of how we raise our animals to be interesting and thoughtful, and we like to have a fresh eye review our practices. Our customers appreciate the effort we put into raising animals in this manner and the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW and Certified Grassfed by AGW labels lets them know that we take our job seriously.”
Kinderhook Farm is two hours from New York City and the farm sells meat to numerous restaurants and markets in the city. The Ranneys have found people in New York to be very supportive of local farmers, while chefs like the superior quality of the grassfed lamb they provide. “New Yorkers are really knowledgeable about the food they eat,” Georgia says, “and it’s an exciting time to be doing what we do. Farmers work by themselves a lot, so to be able to talk with the consumer and chefs who visit our farm and store and use our products is very satisfying. We enjoy giving farm tours. It really motivates us to know that people appreciate the beauty of our farm and our treatment of the animals.”