The United Hmong Association of Hickory, NC partnered with NC Cooperative Extension to educate and expose area Hmong farmers to sustainable, small-scale livestock production.
The first stop on our tour was Grateful Growers in Denver, NC, where owner/proprietor, Natalie Veres, shared that her farm raises a menagerie of farm animals on ten acres, but the cornerstone of their production is the 'Tamworth' hogs that they raise for meat on pasture.
Natalie talked in detail about her production practices, the importance of providing abundant forages, quality feeds, and providing ample shade, water, and shelter from the elements. Natalie also went on to say that they do not use added hormones or antibiotics in growing their animals, and the finished products are all free from fillers, preservatives, nitrates and MSG.
Our next stop was Gilcrest Natural farm of Iron Station, NC, where owner, Amy Foster, introduced us to her pasture-raised poultry and all-natural beef operation. Amy farms on approximately 30 acres and has the unique opportunity to raise her starter chicks in her version of the 'White House.'
Amy then gave us a tour to show us the progression of poultry production on the farm for both her layer and broiler flocks. She also shared with us the use of 'chicken tractors' and the important role they play in the everyday life of chickens on Gilcrest Natural Farm.
Next we checked out her small herd of all natural, grass-fed angus cattle that she raises to a weight of approximately 1100-1200 lbs before they are processed for meat and direct marketed to consumers through area farmers' markets. Amy shared with the Hmongs that it is important to her that she never use hebicides/pesticides on the farm and her poutry and cattle never recieve antibiotics and/or hormones. Just like Grateful Growers, she is striving for a "Healthy, All Natural Meat Product!"