Animal Welfare Approved has an annual tradition of taking a moment to thank the family farmers who work so hard to produce healthy and environmentally responsible food for our communities. Farming is not an easy job, and we want to encourage AWA friends and followers to take this opportunity to appreciate farmers you know for their contribution to our holiday tables and to our tables every day. As the only national nonprofit organization that audits, certifies and supports farmers raising animals on pasture, we are fortunate to have become the most highly regarded food label for sustainability and outdoor farming systems. With an ever-growing family of certified farms, AWA helps consumers find sustainable, pasture-raised products and connect with the farmers that produce them. We encourage you to seek out AWA farms and purchase their products this holiday season as a way to support pasture-based farms. Please also use this forum and social media to share your thanks. USE THE COMMENT BOX BELOW TO SHARE YOUR THANKS TO FAMILY FARMERS. OR… to use Twitter to thank family farmers, use the hash tag #ThankAWAFarmers. On Facebook, use @Animal Welfare Approved to tag your message. We will share all of these messages with AWA farmers! Food is a central focus of any holiday, but it has impacts far beyond the table. While the majority of farm animals are raised in extreme confinement, numerous studies have shown that pasture- and range-based farming is better for the environment and brings a wide range of benefits to both animals and consumers. Our farmers are providing good, healthy food from animals raised according to the highest standards and are moving us all towards a more sustainable future. Every animal we raise outdoors on pasture brings an environmental benefit to us all – in responsible nutrient management, soil conservation and lower environmental impact. Join us in celebrating these farmers who work so hard to feed us and who are truly stewards of our planet.
The Wooton family of Kaua’i Kunana Dairy raise dairy goats outdoors on pasture and use the milk to produce fresh Hawaiian farmstead goat cheese on the island of Kaua’i.
The Wootons have been raising goats in Hawaii since 1979 and making goat cheese for 20 years “We are the only dairy on the island of Kaua’i,” Louisa says proudly. “Kaua’i Kunana Dairy is a true family farm. We built everything on the farm ourselves, including the house. Our eldest son, Ryan, and his wife, Sarah, are our partners.”
With a milking herd of approximately 30 goats and total herd of 80, the Wootons are pleased with the reception their goat cheese has received: “Almost all our cheese is sold on the island of Kaua’i,” Louisa explains. “Many visitors to our island seek us out at farmers markets. We’ve found our local community to be very committed to supporting farmers and we’re increasing the number of restaurants that serve our cheese.”
The Wootons have high praise for their goats. “Our animals are an integral part of our farm,” Louisa explains. “They are truly part of our family. Our grandson, Hendrix, learned to speak “goat” before he learned most people words! Our goats are intelligent and friendly, and besides supplying milk for great cheese, they mow the orchards and we use their manure as fertilizer.”
The farm has been Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) for dairy goats since 2009, but recently decided to certify their pasture-raised laying hens. Like their goats, Kaua’i Kunana Dairy is committed to encouraging the natural behaviors of their laying hens, raising them outdoors on pasture where they can flap their wings freely, run, dust bathe, and peck and scratch for grubs and seeds. 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.
For the Wootons, applying to be Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW was an easy decision, because the certification is a true reflection of the care and respect they give their animals: “Having the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW logo is something we’re really, really proud of,” Louisa says. “We display the label on our products and our customers are responding well to it. We encourage anyone raising livestock to become certified by A Greener World!”
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW goat dairy products and chicken eggs from Kaua’i Kunana Dairy are available at various farmers’ markets, retail stores, restaurants and on their online store. For more information about Kaua’i Kunana Dairy, visit kauaikunanadairy.com. For the latest news from the farm, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.