Jake’s Country Meats is more than just a pig farm—it is a family legacy. After six generations of raising pigs in the Michigan countryside, the Robinson family has developed a special connection to the land and remains dedicated to their mission of bridging the gap between food production and consumption.
According to the Robinson’s youngest daughter Renee, her father, Nate Robinson, has pig farming “in his blood” and he does a top-notch job of raising his Heritage breed pigs on pasture.
Renee, who came back to work on the farm after earning a degree in Marketing from Western Michigan University, takes part in all aspects of the family business.
About ten years ago, a former country boy was sitting in his office at a successful engineering firm in Bethlehem, Pa., wondering what he was doing with his life. As he gazed out the window at a nearby farm, Nate Thomas became nostalgic for his childhood days on his parents’ Lancaster County farm, where he helped to raise animals and enjoyed nature and adventures through a young boy’s eyes.
During his seven years working in the real world, he became increasingly unsatisfied with his professional life. “Even though financially it was a very good decision, my soul wasn’t satisfied,” says Thomas, who broke away from the real world to run a farm on land adjacent to his parents’ farm to fulfill a desire to live sustainably and self sufficiently. The deliberately named Breakaway Farms represents Thomas’ resolute drive for personal freedom, self-sufficiency and a life more in line with what he experienced growing up.
John Clark grew up on his father’s dairy farm – Applecheek Farm of Hyde Park, Vermont – and began working on the farm full-time in 2005. Clark purchased the farm from his father three months ago, and is already diversifying and reengineering the operation. Applecheek Farm raises all kinds of livestock, from hogs to cows, while providing education and agricultural tourism. Clark focuses on sustainability and simplicity on the farm with big dreams for the future of his local food community.
I recently spoke with Clark about how the farm began, the sustainable practices that he uses and his future goals for a food hub on the farm.
John Muir Ranch in Pasadena, Calif., has only been in full operation since 2011, but during the past two years, the once small, test garden has grown into a large, vegetable and flower producing farm.
The Ranch resides at the John Muir High School campus. When Doss Jones, former biology teacher, master gardener and founder of Muir Ranch, planted the Ranch’s first plot, she only used it as a learning garden for one of the high school’s elective courses. “It was six rows. [At the time,] she was working with another master gardener and they had a little bit of grant money to try and build a curriculum, but the money, after two years, it was gone. They couldn’t really do much more with the garden [at the time],” Erika Redke, former CSA manager at Muir Ranch, said.
Leasing Abandoned City Lots, Six Young Farmers Cobble Together a Sustainable Urban Farming EnterpriseJuly 10, 2013 | Trish Popovitch
“There’s a lot of interest in urban agriculture right now, in coming outside and reconnecting with the earth and it just seems like there are a lot of people who are hungry for that.” – Emily Hanson, Stone’s Throw Urban Farm
Alex Leibman, Emily Hanson, Eric Larsen, Klaus Zimmerman-Mayo, Robin Major and John Seitz of Stone’s Throw Urban Farm are making a sustainable name for themselves by leasing empty lots throughout the inner city areas of Saint Paul and Minneapolis to grow food. The sustainable grown produce is in turn sold to the local community. It’s hard work for this six-farmer partnership, but so far the business model has borne fruit.
The founders of Stone’s Throw Urban Farm all have experience farming in the real world as well as education in sustainable agriculture. To launch Stone’s Throw they created a limited liability partnership comprised of numerous city lots that could produce a healthy sustainable diet for the local community.