This installment of “Food Voices” features a profile of farmer Jerry Peele of Herondale Farm.
WhyHunger is pleased to be partnering with Andrianna Natsoulas, longtime food sovereignty activist and author of the forthcoming book Food Voices: Stories of the Food Sovereignty Movement. In 2010, Andrianna began a journey across the Americas to capture the stories of people working towards and living a just and sustainable food system. As she continues her journey, spanning from Nova Scotia to Ecuador to Brazil and beyond, we will feature highlights of the stories she gathers.
Jerry Peele is a farmer from Ancramdale, New York, at Herondale Farm. It is a mixed organic certified livestock farm with 250 acres of land, plus an additional 150 acres of leased land. They have beef cattle, pasture-raised poultry, grass-fed lambs and pastured pigs. Jerry has only been farming for about five years, but he has successfully tapped into local markets and has found a farming method that maintains an ecological balance.
“The business has grown pretty quickly. I did not want to expand until I felt comfortable with the product we are producing — that we could raise the animals in a healthy environment and at the end of the day know they have had a good, healthy life outside, and that we can provide a good product to our customers. It took three or four years to be completely confident in our products. And then we started to develop markets. We can’t really keep up with demand at the moment!
“We sell our products at our store. We sell some to restaurants. We do two farmers markets locally, both of which are within 20-25 miles from us. Then, we have an internet business where we have products on the website and we can ship them via UPS. And another way we market is people mostly buy in the fall for a winter stock of meat that they enjoy. They will buy a split side of beef, or a side of beef, a side of pork, a whole lamb or something. And put it in the freezer to keep it through the winter. Plus our wholesale business: we do some business with restaurants and we do quite a bit of business with our beef with high-end butchers.
“If you can find a way that everything falls together- so you’ve got the ecological side of it working and the economic side working- then I think that’s the path to sustainability. If you can create more organic matter in your soil, then that’s a carbon positive way of farming. If we can use our animals in a way to better the quality of the pastures that their prodigy will be grazing in, then it is a win-win situation. If we are doing that in a way that benefits us a human race, because we are eating healthy food, but also in the way we are keeping animals, it is healthy and good for the planet.”