• 48°

Sweet Grass Farm wins $6K grant from WNC Ag Options

Bill Teague, NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission acting chairman (center), and Randy and Megan Smith on Jan. 19 at N.C. State’s Mountains Horticultural Extension Center in Mills River. (photo submitted)

Smith’s Sweet Grass Farm in Columbus recently was awarded a $6,000 All Natural Pastured Poultry Project grant from WNC Ag Options.
This grant is available for all farmers or people trying to start sustainable farming in Polk County.
Randy and Megan Smith, owners of the farm, said their all-natural pastured poultry project is in its second year. They said the project is their first step in becoming a totally sustainable farm. Last year they raised (and processed themselves) almost 400 chickens; this year, with support from their customers and the grant, they plan to produce at least 1,200 chickens.
“My wife Megan and I got our inspiration from Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Swoope, Va.,” Randy Smith said. “He was featured in the popular TV documentary ‘Food Inc.’ After spending two years doing research on our nation’s industrialized food system, we have chosen to eat healthier and to be more educated about where our food comes from and most importantly how it is grown (vegetables) and raised (animals).”
The Smiths purchase their chickens as day-old chicks. The chicks spend two weeks in a heated brooder and then they spend the rest of their life outdoors in the pasture eating grass, clovers, all of the nutritious grasshoppers and bugs they can eat, in addition to naturally grown local grains free of antibiotics, hormones and medications.
Anyone interested can stop by or schedule a visit to the farm to see how the all-natural pastured poultry process works. The grant is designed to promote education related to poultry raising, and the Smiths said they would be happy to teach anyone how they too can raise their own chickens even on a limited amount of land.
“In addition to pastured poultry,” Randy Smith said, “we have already started the second step to becoming sustainable, which is our grass fed beef that will be available in 2012.”
Smith’s Sweet Grass farm is located at 1721 Smith Dairy Road in Columbus. For more information, contact 828-894-8934 or sweetgrassmeats@gmail.com.