Landowner: Echo’s Earth Farm, Robert & Virginia Greenlaw Location: Fredericksburg, VA Protected Land: 146.31 Acres
In his own words… by Robert Greenlaw
This year has seen changes on many fronts. Over the fall and winter we assembled two new mobile range coops (20 x 36 ft. open bottomed hoop houses built on skids for ease of movement) that we use for our broiler chicken production and for use with raising turkeys for the first time this season. The coops were costly and time consuming to both purchase and assemble, but have saved us countless hours of moving chickens by hand and have proven to be a better more adaptable environment for the chickens to live and thrive on our pastures.
Our cattle herd has continued to grow year after year. We started with just 10 a few years ago and now have nearly 50. We’re in the fortunate position to have more grass than our animals have been able to eat, so we have continued buying more and more weened steers every 6 months in an attempt to meet the demand for our grass finished beef and to more efficiently utilize the bounty that our acreage provides. Once on our farm, we then raise the cattle. We move our cattle daily to allow time for the pasture to rebound to a mature state before being mowed again by the herd. This assists in keeping the cattle healthy by continually moving them out of their manure, and by leaving long gaps between grazing it breaks the life cycles of pests that can plague ruminant animals.
Covid-19 has brought many challenges for conducting business, but surprisingly has also been a driver for increased business. We wouldn’t have ever dreamed that a pandemic would have helped our sales, but with disrupted supply chains, and increased demand for people eating at home, it became clear rather quickly that people would do well to seek out their local farmers for food. Us being purveyors of beef, chicken and eggs, we saw a steep increase in demand. We have worked hard to transition to online ordering and reduced contact pickup and delivery options in addition to our farmers market presence. This has taken far more time monitoring order forms, organizing inventory, packaging orders, and invoicing. It has forced us to rethink how we conduct business and to focus our sights on the future.
We have met many new customers in recent months and hope to continue those relationships going forward. There’s nothing quite like knowing where your food comes from. And while some people may return to buying the cheaper foods found at the grocery and big box stores, we anticipate that more people will stick with us as they increasingly value the new personal relationships they have with their food and appreciate the higher quality that comes with small farms like ours.