VITAL MISSION FARM IS BORN
I started Vital Mission Farm with a handful of chickens that I raised outside on grass. My goal was to simply grow some clean healthy food for my family. I moved the birds every day to let them forage for bugs and vegetation to supplement their diet. When I finally harvested them and my wife baked the first bird, we knew that we had a home run! The taste was out of this world. I gave away all the chickens that I grew to friends and family and they all commented on how much better tasting it was compared to what they were used to. They said the flesh had a better feel and texture to it like you would expect a healthy animal to have. Not only did we grow a better tasting product, but the animals were so much happier outside with fresh air, sunshine, and bugs to chase.
Comparison studies done by the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association have shown that pastured poultry are higher in Vitamins A and D and have more healthy unsaturated fats and Omega 3s compared to conventionally raised poultry. In addition, the birds naturally fertilize our pastures with their manure which improves our soil health and fertility.
The other thing that really intrigued me about this natural kind of farming is that the more I learned about it, the more I wanted to learn and perfect it. I read studies from the Rodale Institute and Project Drawdown that described how we can use rotationally grazing livestock to actually pull carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in the soil helping to reverse climate change! Now I was hooked. I read every book, watched every video, and every study I could find on Regenerative Agriculture.
What I learned was that agriculture accounts for around 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. This number was astonishing to me, but the more I learned about it, the more I realized the potential to make a dramatic improvement to not only how we grow food but also our greenhouse gas contribution. This gave me the drive I needed to grow a farm that not only produced healthier food for consumers and provided a better way of life for the animals, but also serves to be part of the solution to natural ecosystem destruction and climate change.
I have followed nature as a model to design the farm as an ecosystem. We are utilizing a silvopasture design which has pasture grasses for the animals to graze and widely spaced fruit and nut trees to create additional food for us and habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators. Silvopasture has been listed as one of the Top 20 solutions to climate change by Project Drawdown and provides maximum carbon sequestering potential in addition to food production. The complex balance of plants, livestock, and animals allows for increased productivity on the same area of land without using fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. This interconnected relationship works like nature intended, and each part of the farm supports the other parts of the system to make a low-impact, nutrient recycling, diverse, life building community.
We hear stories of extreme weather events and deforestation on the news everyday but it really hits home when you can see it first hand. I am a nature lover and outdoorsman with a bachelors degree in biology and a doctorate of pharmacy. Growing up in the lowcountry I spent much of my free time outdoors in pursuit of fishing, boating, hiking, and hunting. In my adventures, I began to notice changes in the environment such as heavier flooding events, higher tides, reduced fish populations, and forests being converted to subdivisions. I was very concerned about our human impact on our natural world and wondered if in 20 years there would be any natural wilderness or wild animals left for my son to experience.
I started to brainstorm how I could help more people improve their health and take care of our natural environment at the same time. I started Vital Mission Farm with a purpose to grow all natural healthy food in a responsible manner. The health and nutritional value of the food we grow is just as important as the manner in which it was produced. As an animal lover, I could not stand the thought of thousands of chickens, debeaked and crammed in a tiny room covered in manure and dander. I was concerned about their health and well-being, not to mention the thought of eating something like that. I knew there had to be a better way.