Courtney Schuur and Ethan O’Brien are first generation ranchers raising Certified Animal Welfare Approved by…
Although Cameron Gunther might be relatively young compared to others in his profession, as a third-generation farmer, his farming roots go deep. He was born and raised on his family’s diversified, pasture-based livestock farm and was tasked with day-to-day management chores until his family moved off the farm when he was 11. In high school, however, Cameron joined Future Farmers of America and, at 19, he came back to farming, establishing 40-acre Home Farm Foods in Culver, Oregon.
While most Americans his age may think that chicken eggs come from a cooler at the grocery store, Cameron believes strongly that he is farming the way it’s meant to be done—raising laying hens outside on pasture according to the highest welfare standards.
“I really enjoy working on the farm,” says Cameron, “and I enjoy giving the public a product raised the right way at a competitive price.” Cameron’s flock of just over 1,000 Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) laying hens do indeed produce a better product: scientific research shows that pasture-raised eggs contain three times as much vitamin E, seven times more beta-carotene, and twice the amount of omega 3 fatty acids as industrial eggs. Not only are the eggs’ nutritional value improved by pasture management, but Cameron also sees benefits on the farm: “Raising animals on pasture is the way it’s meant to be for the welfare of the animals and the health of the pasture,” he explains. “Of course, we’re using the chickens for egg production, but we’re also using them to naturally fertilize our soil and recycle nutrients within the farm, as well as to help control weeds and insect pests. Where we do rotational grazing, we see much better pasture and everyone benefits!”
Cameron also raises Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pigs on pasture at Home Farm Foods. “Our pigs are raised the way nature intended,” says Cameron, “living outdoors on pasture, where they can root and dig, wallow and sunbathe, and do what pigs naturally do!” He provides his pigs with continuous access to pasture or range and regularly moves the herd to fresh ground. This rotational management reduces the buildup of parasites and disease, improves the health of the animals and minimizes the risk of excessive damage to the soil. Raising pigs outdoors on pasture allows for a more natural approach, and the animals have plenty of room to demonstrate their natural behaviors.
Having Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW certification helps distinguish Cameron’s high-quality, sustainably-produced animal products from other suppliers who use unregulated claims like “cage-free” and “free range” that are often highly misleading. “Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW is a label you can really trust, so my customers don’t just have to take my word for it,” Cameron explains. “It verifies that I’m actually doing what I say I’m doing.”
Cameron has a passion for supplying his local community with high-welfare, sustainable animal products and has regularly donated foods to those in need. He has donated 200 English-style sausages or “bangers” to firefighters working in the nearby area, fighting wild fires that could have threatened his property. Additionally, he donated a whole hog to a local fundraiser, supporting a central Oregon organization that provides vocational training and continuing education to youth ages 16-24. “High-quality, sustainable foods should be a right, not a privilege, which is why I sell my products at a fair price, so the local community can afford to eat well,” says, Cameron.
Cameron is also planning to welcome customers out to the farm to let them see for themselves how he raises his animals, and to help them re-connect to the source of their food. He plans to hold open farm days, with special events throughout the year to highlight seasonal changes and specialties, like a lamb roast for Easter and pork barbeque in the summer, as he adds new species to the farm. In addition to adding more species, Cameron plans to expand his pasture-raised egg operation over the next year and a half to 3,000 birds.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pasture-raised chicken eggs and pork products are available at two farmers’ markets in Bend and one in Redmond during the summer season. To find out about additional sales, or to purchase directly off the farm, contact Cameron at 541-279-3057 and firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Home Farm Foods, visit homefarmfoods.co and find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.