A Hillsboro farm recently received a Fund-a-Farmer Grant from Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), a national nonprofit organization that promotes the safe and humane production of meat, milk and eggs.
Grass Powered Poultry & Meats, located on Carper Lane east of Hillsboro near Boston, was one of three Ohio farms to receive the FACT grant money, which is designed to expand humane farming by expanding the animals’ access to well-managed pasture, according to FACT Humane Farming Director Larissa McKenna.
“We’re thrilled to partner with these three farms to expand humane farming and increase farm animal welfare,” she said. “Our organization supports farms like these by funding projects that improve animal welfare and help farmers increase their profit margins.”
McKenna said that this year alone FACT awarded more than $94,000 to independent family farm operations like Grass Powered Poultry & Meats to help them achieve a high level of animal welfare.
The farm is owned and operated by Dana Workman-Stacey and her husband Jesse, and Dana said her farm will use the grant money to build a high tensile perimeter fence to raise beef cattle, hogs, broilers, turkeys and laying hens.
“The FACT mission is to help farmers raise animals in a humane manner on pasture, which is something that we were already doing,” she said. “I was excited to find out about their grant program since we recently bought 45 acres on Carper Lane and we’re in the process of transitioning all of our operations up here.”
Grass Powered Poultry & Meats raises pastured poultry, pastured pork and grass-fed beef, she said, harkening back to an earlier time when farmers “free-ranged” and rotated their livestock in open pastures. She said the $2,500 grant “is a good start, since when you’re starting up a new farm anything that helps offset those start-up expenses is huge.”
Though committed to the longterm success of its farming operation, the couple still has full-time jobs off the farm with Dana employed at Farm Credit Mid-America and Jesse working for the Highland County Soil & Water Conservation District.
The concept they embrace, that of raising animals exclusively on grass and pasture, isn’t new, but is a different direction when compared with the large corporate business model that’s been adopted by most modern farmers.
“What we raise is nutritionally a completely different product than what is available in the grocery store,” she said. “The flavor is better and we feel it’s also healthier for you, but along with that it’s about having that connection with the local farmer, and also for us, since we’re on a first-name basis with the people we’re raising food for.”
By her own admission, she didn’t come from a farming family, but after the Zanesville native married Jesse Stacey eight years ago, she decided a year later she wanted to raise her own chickens. After investing in a brood of 50 birds for family and friends, something awakened her “inner farmer.”
She described farming as a lifestyle that really agrees with her family, where six months ago baby Brynn joined her 4-year old big sister Eliza, who enjoys visiting with the baby pigs and was equally excited about Saturday’s arrival of baby chicks.
“Talk about crazy, buy a farm then sell a farm, have a baby and then move the entire family and farm operation all at the same time,” she said. “That was our life last fall.”
She described life on the farm as hard work with many challenges every day, but admitted that there is no other way she would choose to raise her family, and that she and her husband are “in this for the long haul.”
The biggest challenge, she said, was starting from scratch using a farming business model that isn’t conventionally done anymore. What brings her the most satisfaction, though, is being able to work side-by-side with her family and hearing from people that tell her how their products have positively impacted their lives.
People that are interested in Grass Powered Poultry & Meats products can get them directly from the farm through the Chillicothe Farmers Market and through Walker’s Farm-to-Fork, a local food truck operation.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.