With fall harvest season in full swing, there was good news from the USDA for consumers who prefer to buy their produce, meat, dairy and eggs directly from farmers: the number of farmer’s markets in the United States has grown by 13% over the past year. According to the agency, 5,274 farmer’s markets are now operating nationwide, up from 4,685 reported in 2008 (a gain of 589 markets). The USDA has just launched the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative to help develop local and regional food systems and spur economic opportunity.
Robin and Joe Hampton are first generation farmers and started farming at Back Creek Angus in Mount Ulla in Rowan County in 1981. Building their farming business from the ground up, they have slowly expanded their livestock operation and now raise a flock of Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) sheep on 125 acres of mixed pasture and woodland. They also raise Black Angus beef cattle.
The flock of sheep at Back Creek Angus are rotationally managed, grazing one section of pasture before being moved to fresh fields. This management approach allows grass to recover before sheep return to graze again; it also keeps the soil properly fertilized and minimizes the build-up of internal parasites, thereby avoiding reliance on chemical treatments. To encourage a greater diversity of plant species in the pastures and ensure the animals have access to a range of plant-based minerals and nutrients in their diet, the Hamptons integrate multiple species into their rotational management system to mimic natural grazing processes. Robin and Joe graze their Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW sheep behind the cattle so they graze off any the plants the cattle leave behind. This not only controls weeds and ensures species diversity, but that grass and forage growth is at its most nutritious when the animals return to the pastures to graze again.
For more information about the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW sheep at Back Creek Angus, contact Robin Hampton at 704-880-3572 and Joe Hampton at 704-880-2488 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.