The Gulf States office of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and Gaining Ground -- Sustainability Institute of Mississippi (GGSIM) are partnering in a field day to show off pastured poultry, swine and beef from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15.
Hosted by ranchers Johnny Wray and his cattle business partner, Elton Dean, at Wray’s High Hope Farm in Clay County, the field day will show off the pasture raising techniques popularized by Virginia farmer and author Joel Salatin.
The grass-fed beef operation is managed by Dustin Pinion and Ali Fratesi, who live in Starkville. The couple has operated Beaverdam Farm in Indianola for about four years. Pinion, 27, came to High Hope Farm to show off what he learned while apprenticing with Salatin for six months in 2011. The couple now has about 350 laying hens and 800 meat birds at High Hope Farm, said Fratesi, who is a regular at the Mississippi Farmers Market on High Street in Jackson, selling eggs and pesticide-free produce. They have more than 700 members in their buying club.
The eggs they sell are “beyond free range to rotationally grazed,” Pinion and Fratesi said.
The steers are intensively “mob grazed” on pasture with portable electric fencing that is moved daily. The pastured poultry follow the paddocks in portable pens called “chicken tractors.” The result is intensive recycling of waste into the pasture that renders outside fertilization unnecessary. The grass-fed beef are cheaper to raise since they aren’t finished on grain and command a higher price. Additionally, the combination of cattle and poultry on the pasture removes noxious weeds and improves the density and quality of the forage.
The farm has recently added pastured swine to the mix, clearing out previously overgrown scrub and sapling forested areas while producing sellable meat.
Established in 2010, GGSIM is a statewide nonprofit headquartered in Starkville with the mission to help Mississippians make sustainable choices by connecting people with essential education and resources. More here.
The NCAT Gulf States office opened at the old New Deal Grocery at the Jackson Medical Mall in Jackson in June. Headquartered in Butte, Mont., NCAT is a nonprofit offering assistance for sustainable living -- farming, energy, and information -- to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities, and protect natural resources.
High Hope Farm is located just off MS Hwy 46 in western Clay County, about 12 miles from West Point and 17 miles from Starkville.
From West Point. Take MS Hwy 50 West at the US 45A\MS 50 intersection. Go west on 50 6.3 Miles to Hwy 46 (one mile west of MS Hwy 47); turn right toward Montpelier. Continue on 46 3.9 miles to Milam Road (gravel road just beyond a large garage and abandoned salvage yard) -- turn right on Milam and go one mile -- Milam becomes our drive.
From Starkville. Take MS 389 of the US 82\MS 25 bypass on the north side of Starkville to MS Hwy 50 at the village of Pheba. Turn right (east) and go 11.3 miles to Hwy 46; turn left toward Montpelier - continue 3.9 miles to Milam Road (gravel road just beyond a large garage and abandoned salvage yard) -- turn right on Milam and go one mile -- Milam becomes our drive.
For more information, call Johnny Wray at (662) 295-3986, or Jim Ewing at (479) 575-1390.