In 2008, Jennifer Curtis and Tina Prevatte Levy, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Firsthand Foods, merged…
Comprising just over 100 acres of lush Virginia farmland, Waverly Farms is a sustainably managed and fully integrated farm with multiple species of animals and plants. With the help of dedicated staff and interns, farmers Stuart and Patti Rosenberg raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) laying hens, pigs, meat goats and sheep.
The Rosenbergs are committed to farming without the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, growth hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics. “We participate in conservation and educational programs and practice livestock exclusion of our waterways, rotational grazing, composting, organic gardening and strict animal welfare,” Patti explains. “This is our way of reducing disease, parasites and feed costs.”
Stuart and Patti manage a flock of Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW laying hens on pasture at Waverly Farms. The hens forage the pastures and their diet is supplemented with certified organic soy-free feed and minerals. 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.
In addition to the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW laying hens, Stuart and Patti raise a herd of Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW American Guinea Hogs. The American Guinea is small, hardy and efficient at foraging, making them ideally suited for pasture-based production. American Guinea Hogs were commonly found on early American homesteads, but as the numbers of homesteaders diminished, the breed followed suit. Since the 1980s, however, there has been a resurgence of the breed among small farms.
Patti and Stuart also manage a large herd of Spanish and Savannah goats according to AGW standards. A large framed-breed, the Savannah goats are known for their hardiness, resistance to parasites, high fertility and ability to thrive in pasture and range-based systems. Spanish goats are also recognized for performing well in extensive grazing systems, and this breed is known for its docile temperament, high fertility, adaptability and longevity. The goats are important addition to Waverly Farms, complementing the pigs in controlling weeds and brush, as well as producing high-quality meat.
The flock of Katahdin sheep round out the diverse array of livestock at Waverly Farms. The Katahdin breed is a hair sheep, meaning they have a coat of hair rather than wool, and do not require sheering, reducing management time. Katahdins are often favored for their strong mothering abilities, adaptation to hot climates and high tolerance to parasites. They perform particularly well in outdoor, pasture-based systems like those utilized at Waverly Farms.
The decision to certify with AGW is a reflection of the Rosenberg’s commitment to sustainability, which also includes the elimination of harmful chemicals from food, nurturing soil, plants and animals using only natural and organic practices, and ensuring the safety of animals and humans on the farm. “We strive to produce the best tasting and most nutritious food we can raise, with honest, fair and transparent practices,” Patti explains, “while educating others about farming and food.”
Stuart and Patti purchased Waverly Farms from family and have owned it for nine years. Patti cites numerous influences on the couple’s decision to begin farming, including writers like Sir Albert Howard, Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver. “Farming is the most intellectually challenging thing I have ever taken on, having to learn about soil, ponds, insects, irrigation, plants, disease, animals, pastures and forestry,” she says. “My knowledge comes from reading everything, asking anyone who is kind enough to offer, going to seminars, and applying for certifications like Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW.”
Patti initially sought AGW certification as a way to continue her agricultural education: “Honestly, I wanted to know how we rated!” She found the certification process gave her a wealth of information that ultimately increased her agricultural knowledge and benefited the farm. “The application process provides support, as well as a great deal of supporting information and documentation.”
Waverly Farms’ AGW eggs, pork, goat meat and lamb is available directly from the farm, as well as at various retail outlets around Virginia. Check the AGW directory for details. For more information on Waverly Farms’ AGW certified products, visit www.waverlyfarmsvirginia.com.