An Interview With Mountainside Family Farm
Check out our most recent interview with Melissa and Collin George from Mountainside Family Farms!
Name of Farm/Farmer: Mountainside Family Farm. Owned and operated by Melissa and Collin George (and family)
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
What's your favorite local food this time of year?
Asparagus and rhubarb
Did you or your husband grow up farming?
Melissa grew up in SW Ohio in the middle of farmland. Collin didn’t, but just loves the farm. He currently is part time military.
When did you begin farming and how did you acquire the property?
Melissa and Collin initially partnered with a couple (Will and Amy) who farm regeneratively, in Virginia. They purchased the Swannanoa, NC farm in 2015, moved there in 2016 and started to clear parts of the land for the pasture land they wanted using local help. They are purposefully leaving the stumps in the pastures. They create great scratching posts for the cattle and will decompose, supporting future mushroom growth.
What were some of your limitations and how did you overcome them?
The most vexing problem involves the requirement to process animals at a USDA facility in order to cross state lines. The small butcher shops are disappearing thus making transportation longer and more stressful on the animals. Melissa and Collin have applied for grants to help convert a building (with processing equipment) to handle chickens. They were denied. They wrote a grant for grass-seed (for pasture development) and got denied.
Were others able to help you with your limitations?
Melissa and Collin are fortunate to have started their farming journey with a couple from Virginia that helps them supply meat to customers, and some chicken processing equipment.
Did you ever have trouble with local, state or federal government regarding licensing or any other issues?
No, but they do see over regulation and overreach which they believe limits a farmer’s access to consumers and markets as well as a consumer’s individual right to food freedom.
What would you tell yourself, or others, if you were starting over again?
Try to figure out your circle of sustainability. It starts with trust. Melissa sees people who are afraid to buy directly from a farmer. Realize the longer timeline it takes to grow grass fed healthy beef, pork and chicken. Realize that there may be price points you just won’t be able to cross. Melissa’s example to me was the price per pound for her whole chicken. She charges $4.75/lb. and says she isn’t making much profit. Looks for optional income streams. Maybe an Airbnb could be nestled onto your farm. A certified kitchen could be built to take the unpopular cuts of meat and bone and turn them into broth or soups and other value added products.
What do you want to tell potential customers?
There are a couple of things. Firstly, It’s so important to support sustainable regenerative agriculture. This type of agriculture heals the land. It allows animals to live like they should. Healthy animals help make healthy people, which create healthy communities.
Secondly, grass fed Dexter beef takes two years. (Dexter cattle are small animals bred for mountainous terrain. They naturally carry the A2 gene in their milk). Grass Fed angus can take 18 months. Corn Fed beef finishes much quicker. Cows are designed to eat grass - they are ruminants. A corn diet creates acidosis (an excessive amount of acid in the body) and will make an animal sick and ultimately kill them.
Thirdly, their partner farm in Virginia raises grass fed angus and pastured pork. Any corn fed to the pork is non-GMO grain from SunRise Farm in Virginia. Both places raise meat chickens, which is the cornish cross. Right now Melissa and Collin raise about 450/year. They hope to be able to raise that to 1,000 birds (which is their maximum). Their partners in Virginia raise 5,000 to 10,000 birds.
In closing, what does food freedom mean to you?
Food freedom means an individual has the right to choose what they eat. It also means trust in the farmer. Food freedom starts with creating a community that understands food is our basic right.
Any final comments?
People love the farm. They feel refreshed and energized. If you think that's not embedded in our DNA, you are crazy. It is life learning for us and our children.
Thank you Melissa (and Collin)!!
Do you support small farms and artisanal producers? Do you want to help keep them in the business of supplying healthy food to you? The Food Freedom Foundation helps small farms like Mountainside Family Farm fight against government harassment and overreach. Your tax deductible donation goes to keep these farmers on the land.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man (and woman - sic) who is actually in the arena... who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..." - THEODORE ROOSEVELT