This post appears courtesy of Animal Welfare Approved.
Dede Boies and David Evershed established Root Down Farm in 2013 in the Cloverdale Valley in Pescadero, California. Dede and David’s proposal to raise livestock outdoors on pasture at the 62-acre property owned by the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) was chosen by a panel of local farmers for their shared vision of community-building through sustainable food production. “Our mission is to raise the healthiest animals possible in the most humane way, and to leave this land better than we found it,” Dede explains. Today, they raise AWA-certified meat chickens in 200-bird flocks for marketing within the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast region.
David’s passion for farming was formalized when, after graduating from the University of California Santa Cruz with a degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in Agroecology, he enrolled in the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food System’s (CASFS) Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. Dede ‘s passion for food production was ignited while working on farms in Hawaii and New Zealand, and eventually landed her in California’s Central Coast region where she and David both amassed experience on various diversified small farm operations before establishing Root Down Farm.
Dede and David currently raise a variety of traditional chicken breeds, including Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island Red, Buff Orpington, Barred Plymouth Rock, Chanticlers, and Buckeyes. By trialing different chicken breeds sourced from local breeders, they hope to find the breeds that work best on their farm. “We’re figuring out what forages well, is best-suited to our climate and environment, and which finishes the best,” Dede explains. Having animals that are well-suited to Root Down Farm is an important aspect of animal welfare, in addition to benefitting the farm’s bottom line and meat quality. “We believe in what we’re doing for our animals from the day they arrive to the day we slaughter,” says Dede. “They’re living in as natural a setting as a domesticated animal can. They’re on new pasture every day, out in the sun, with plenty of room and green grass so they can forage for what they want. We’re really holding ourselves to a high standard.” AWA certification verifies this commitment and lets Root Down Farm’s customers know the animals really are being raised according to the highest welfare standards.
As new farmers selling a high-quality, high-welfare product, education is an integral part of Dede and David’s marketing strategy, and the AWA logo is another important way to help them stand out from the crowd. “We have to tell our story all the time,” says Dede. “I love it, but it’s a lot of work and the AWA logo will be really helpful. Customers who are looking for the AWA label know the difference between pasture-raised and conventionally-raised products and want to support farmers doing the right thing.”
Dede and David were persuaded to investigate AWA certification for their meat birds after other local AWA farmers told them about the program’s stringent standards and support for pasture-based farmers. Dede explains that being able to source chicks from another approved farm benefits both operations: “We realized it would help both of us to be certified—it closes the loop.”
Root Down Farm’s AWA-certified meat birds are available direct from the farm. Drop offs are available in San Francisco and Santa Cruz. For more information—or to place an order—visit www.rootdownfarm.org or contact Dede and David at [email protected] or (650 ) 879-9921.
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