“People, planet, profit” is today’s measure of how well a company is doing. While corporate social responsibility might have once meant a nice contribution to charity at Christmas, those days are gone. A new study by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) shows consumers are taking “people, planet, profit,” also known as triple bottom line accounting, very seriously, and companies hoping to compete will have to take a good hard look at how they produce what they hope to sell. According to the NMI study, 50% of consumers avoid brands whose practices they don’t agree with—twice as many as in 2005. Consumers have been educating themselves about the things they buy and the food they eat for years and that knowledge is impacting buying decisions.
In 2006, Garry and Ming Adams bought the 2,000-acre property they call Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch. Their plan was to create a unique location where guests could stay and explore the McElmo Canyon in southwest Colorado, where the ranch is situated. They began by renovating the historic buildings on the property to preserve and highlight the rich legacy and beautiful landscape. It wasn’t until later that Garry and Ming decided to raise Certified Grassfed by A Greener World (AGW) beef cattle and sheep, and Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW laying hens on pasture and range. Their aim was not only to provide fresh, high-welfare and sustainable food for their guests, but also to supply restaurants and retail outlets in the area.
With the support of their neighbors, who generously shared knowledge and advice, Garry and Ming gradually learned the skills required to raise animals outdoors on pasture. The cattle, sheep and laying hen operations currently utilize 65 acres of irrigated pasture, which is managed holistically without the use of pesticides.
Choosing breeds that would thrive in the farm’s often challenging environment was important. Ming and Garry decided to cross Angus cattle, known for its meat quality, with the Longhorn breed, which is very hardy and can withstand the harsh weather in southwest Colorado. The cattle and sheep at Canyon of the Ancient’s Ranch are Certified Grassfed by AGW, which guarantees the animals have been fed a 100 percent grass and forage diet. Ming and Garry raise Royal White sheep, a hair breed that does not require shearing, and Navajo-Churro sheep, a rare breed suited to extremes of climate and highly resistant to disease. Similarly, the ranch’s Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW laying hens are a mix of traditional breeds like Araucana, New Hampshire Red and Barred Rock that can thrive outdoors on range, producing eggs with shells from blue and green to beige and chocolate brown.
Ming explains that they employ a rotational grazing strategy, moving the animals regularly across the land to ensure the health of their animals and pastures by minimizing the potential build-up of internal parasites and allowing the grasses to fully recover between grazing. These practices are consistent with Ming and Garry’s appreciation for their land, animals and human health and wellbeing. “We have happy livestock,” says Ming, “and our customers are happy with the quality of our meat and eggs.”
Ming and Garry chose to apply to the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW and Certified Grassfed by AGW programs because they knew the labels would help establish new market opportunities by communicating how their high-welfare practices were different from conventional farms. They are proud to have gained the two highly regarded farm certifications, and hope that marketing their pastured products will help raise awareness about the importance of animal welfare and farm sustainability.
Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch lodging facilities are open for rental throughout the year. Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW and Certified Grassfed by AGW beef, lamb and Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pasture-raised eggs from Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch are available directly from the farm, as well as at local retailers and restaurants in Cortez. For more information, visit CanyonoftheAncients.com or contact Ming and Garry at firstname.lastname@example.org and 970-565-4288. You can also follow the farm on Facebook and Instagram.