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Donna Simons raises Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW laying hens at Pound Ridge Organics in Westchester County, New York. Pound Ridge Organics sits on an original homestead property dating back to 1792. The laying hens roam the 2-acre property, while 16 acres of wooded wetlands lies just beyond the farm.
Donna has always led a homestead lifestyle, growing food for her family and purchasing what products she couldn’t produce herself from local farms. It wasn’t until she went back to school to complete her graphic artist and illustrator degree that she became immersed in learning more about the misuse of antibiotics in conventional farming, and decided to do her thesis research on factory farming. Since then she has started raising her own hens, began a local food coop, started writing a book and has exhibited and presented on food labeling and high-welfare, sustainable farming to audiences around the world.
The laying hens at Pound Ridge Organics are managed outdoors on pasture and moved regularly to fresh ground, preventing the buildup of pests and diseases and ensuring the grasslands remain healthy and productive. Donna chose traditional breeds to make up her flock of laying hens, including Plymouth Barred Rock, Blue Andalusian, Wyandotte and Jersey Giants. Research shows that pasture-based management is not only better for animal welfare, but results in tasty and nutritious eggs with more beta carotene and higher levels of beneficial conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids when compared to conventional eggs.
Donna decided to pursue Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW certification for her laying hens after seeing the AWA label on products at Glynwood Center Farm in Cold Spring, NY. She spoke with the farmers there about their high-welfare farming practices, and realized she was also following the same standards at her farm. “The Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW label incorporates all of my ideals regarding how animals should be treated,’ says Donna. “The requirements ensure animals live a natural life in the environment they are adept to live in, with continual access to pasture or range and strict feeding protocols. In one label, AWA covers it all.”
In addition to raising her laying hens at Pound Ridge Organics, Donna continues to be an advocate for high-welfare, sustainable farming as the co-chair of Slow Food Metro North, on the committee for Slow Meat International, and has been chosen to represent the U.S. as a delegate at the 2016 Terra Madre Salon del Gusto in Turin, Italy. She is also a member of NOFA-NY and has taken the Farmers Pledge to use organic practices on her farm.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pasture-raised eggs from Pound Ridge Organics are available direct from the farm. For more information visit the farm’s website poundridgeorganics.com. To contact Pound Ridge Organics, email PoundRidgeOrganics@iCloud.com or call 914-764-3006. Follow Pound Ridge Organics on Facebook and on Instagram for farm news and details about upcoming events.