Chad and Jodi Ray are being recognized as Champions of Change for their work demonstrating that corporate environmental leadership makes sense, both for business and for American communities.
You want children and their parents to value the family farm lifestyle and farmers? We must educate, educate, and educate some more why sustainable farming is so important to our world food supply.
Ray Family Farms of Bunn, NC markets their products directly to the consumer. We produce Animal Welfare Approved beef, pork and eggs. We also grow vegetables and raise poultry. The only family farmer poultry processor in our state is not AWA approved -- that is the only reason our poultry is not. We raise delicious, healthy, and nutritious food from “conception to consumption.” Other than animal welfare, our farm is very committed to educating our customers and community, promoting environmental stewardship, and utilizing wildlife enhanced farmland.
The history of our family’s roots here in Franklin County, NC are as deep as a 200’ pine tree. The history of our farm however is not. It is less than 35 years old. Our parents' generation was really the first to ever accumulate land assets. We come from a long line of “dirt” farmers -- dirt farmers were all the people around here who lived off the land. All of their income and the food they ate came from the patch of land they were working. Most of the time that involved working other peoples' land -- sharecropping. My mother and her family moved 14 times in 16 years while she grew up as a sharecropper. Our parents will leave us our farm that was purchased in our lifetime. That is a very powerful responsibility knowing our ancestors worked hundreds of years to give us the opportunity to make something great out of a farm handed down to us.
We love doing our best for our livestock animals, our wildlife, our fish and all the other living organisms our farm gives life to. We do not wont to be the best at any one facet of land management, but the best that we can be at all of them combined. We feel the most important thing we can do is educate anyone who will listen to the critical importance of animal welfare, heritage livestock breeds and sustainable farming. We tell our story 8-10 times a week to groups of 100-200 people at the time. We are an open book about what we do, why we do it and how it can improve their life. We really try to hammer the message home that it’s everyone's responsibility to grow some kind of food. We feel everyone can raise vegetables if only in a container. Many people can have a hen or two to lay eggs for them. It’s in all of our DNA to grow food. We just have to ignite it. Sustainable farming that addresses soil and water conservation, animal welfare, and the use of organic farming methods when possible creates a never-ending circle of life. The success of that circle comes back to the consumer through the food we put into our bodies. Small communities all over the country can be reborn again through different "buy local campaigns," but none any greater than local food. A great deal of money spent with local farmers stays in the community!
At Ray Family Farms this type of education is a never-ending task: we encourage all our visitors to come back many times over; we want our farm to be a part of their life; we have volunteer work days in the gardens for families to participate in together; we have a 4H Club with 30 kids so far that meets on a monthly basis to a host of educational topics about the farm; and we have a 4H cow training team which showcases our young cows at the NC State fair each year -- it’s great to see so many young men and women building their confidence through humanely training 600 lb. animals to do as they ask; and we also host conservation groups, church groups and scouts all the time.
As a nation if we don’t get kids out to the family farms of America how will they become farmers, respect farmers or respect the work it takes to bring food to the table in a sustainable way? The world has a greater population than ever before -- we must not sacrifice good soil, clean water and animal welfare in the name of cheaper food costs. We can accomplish our world needs on a smaller scale with tens of thousands more young farmers around the world!
Chad and Jodi Ray are a husband and wife team that uses their sustainable farm venture, Ray Family Farm, to provide safe, delicious and affordable food to many families in the Raleigh, NC area.