Featured #SwampFarmer: Milky Way Farm

Driving past Anderson and through winding roads of lush, green rolling hills, you will arrive in Starr, SC, where Milky Way Farm is located! We recommend going at sunset, the views are stunning! As a 5th generation farm, Davis, his father LD, and the Peeler family have been supplying Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery with delicious raw milk since the beginning of Swamp time! We even sold out of Milky Way’s milk in preparation for the snow; that’s over 1,500 pounds of milk!

Milky Way has a total of 77 Jersey, grass-fed, and grain-supplemented cows that produce over 5,000 pounds of Grade A raw milk per day! Jersey cow milk is revered for its higher butter fat content, more nutritional fat-soluble vitamins, and an increased level of fatty acids. Basically, it’s really GOOD for you! In addition to all of the nutrients, raw milk retains lactose and lactobacteria that aid in our digestion. With the presence of these goodies, many lactose intolerant people are able to drink it! Davis and stringent testing tells us that is a completely CLEAN, SAFE, and HEALTHY alternative to pasteurized milk. Milky Way’s Jersey cows are milked twice a day, and when it’s time for milking for they are always on time!

So why can you get raw milk in SC and not in other states? The main reason is the worry of the spread of disease since it is not pasteurized. The safety is all about the source for both types of milk! Milky Way Farm is inspected every year by the FDA, the CDC, and SCDHEC. The milking process is very sanitary, the cows are super healthy and happy, and the product is treated well. Pasteurization is not needed when hygienic rules are being followed and a cow’s health is of the utmost importance.

Milking Time

Milky Way has to follow more stringent guidelines than a conventional milk farm and tests daily for signs of disease and bacteria. In addition to Milky Way’s milking machines being clean, efficient, and super high tech, they also test the milk straight out of the udder for contamination or illness in the cow itself. The milk is filtered and then cooled to 40within seconds, it’s pretty cool! Davis has further prevented the chance of any spread or introduction of disease by having a closed herd since 2003.

Davis delivering to his favorite grocery, Swamp Rabbit!

Davis is a wealth of knowledge on the benefits of and legislation concerning raw milk sales in the US. He has a background in veterinary medicine and can answer any questions you may have. He also knows a thing or two about Australian Shepherds! Be sure to congratulate him on his newly appointed Chair of Young Farmers and Ranchers for the Farm Bureau! Not a fan of milk out of the glass? We have you covered with locally made gouda cheese made from Milky Way milk in the store! We are so happy to have such a passionate family at Milky Way Farm as part of our #swampfarmer family!

 

 

Davis’s favorite cow.

 

Photos courtesy of our talented #swampstaff: Betsy Bain, John Hedden, Doris Demkovich, and Ashley Simon

Featured #swampfarmer: Gibson Farms


Leland Gibson is Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery’s only USDA certified organic beef farmer and resident cow whisperer in Westminster, SC. Seriously, his cows love him and are just as photogenic as he is! Some people can be overheard referring to Leland as our “Movie Star” or “Handsome” Farmer! Have you ever seen a calf or full grown cow frolick because it is so excited? It’s the cutest!

Leland has a heart of gold and adds to his herd often by rescuing undernourished cows from feedlots. Within months they are happy, healthy, and content grazing and eating all day long.  Gibson Farms, along with being the first and only beef farmer in the state of South Carolina to have an Organic certification, is Animal Welfare Certified, and is a recognized farm of the intensely selective Slow Food organization. This means that not only are his cows fed well and treated fairly they are also extremely happy with their physical and emotional well-being. All of these positive attributes translate into super tender, flavorful, and delicious meat.

 

Gibson Farms is fully sustainable and everything that its 97 cows eat or drink come from the farm itself. The cows are 100% grass-fed and grass-finished, only eating Organic certified grass and hay from the beginning of their lives until the end. All of Leland’s cows are hormone free, antibiotic free, corn free, and grain free with natural grazing being their main source of sustenance. For treats, the cows love salt which comes from an organic salt mine in Salt Lake City. Their love of salt also meant lots of licks and kisses for us while we were there!

 

The Black Angus and Charolais cows that Leland raises have over 200 acres to graze on five different types of grass including clover, fescue, and bermuda varieties.  The cows are rotated on the land during the warmer months in an impact grazing method that rotates the cattle every couple of days to different areas of pasture. During the other months of the year a rotational grazing is implemented with the cows being moved every 4 to 5 days. This provides the cows with plenty of grass to fill their bellies, lets the land rest and replenish nutrients, and helps to prevent a spread of parasites and disease by keeping the cows clean and away from their own manure. Leland’s squad of wild turkeys also help to spread manure around the pastures to naturally fertilize the grass.

As a third generation farmer, Gibson Farms has been in Leland’s family since 1958. Leland, however,  wasn’t always a farmer and his talents and passion to positively impact our world span into many different areas of life. He is an ex-marine with a degree in Aviation Management, so add saving the world and flying planes to his qualifications! He can also build and design anything that he needs around the farm, used to own his own refrigeration repair business, and even has a side project of renovating the original Gibson farmhouse! We think that he might need to come work for us!  

We are glad that he ended up being a beef farmer and a vital part of the local food movement with wanting to provide SRCG and the Upstate with sustainable, organic, and tasty beef that is raised with integrity and love. So happy to have Leland and Gibson Farms as a part of our #swampfarmer family!

 

Featured #swampfarmer: Ferguson Farm

img_0020

Darrell Ferguson with his beautiful collards at his farm in Taylors.

Darrell Ferguson and Ferguson Farm have been providing fresh, local produce to the Upstate of South Carolina since 1969. After finding a great spot in Taylors, Darrell’s father Frank Sr learned all he could about the ins and outs of the science behind farming. He decided on adopting a “no-till” approach for his farm which minimally disturbs the soil, thereby reducing erosion and ecological disturbance. No-till farming also increases the level of nutrients and water that can be retained in the soil and creates soil resiliency, so no fertilizers need to be added to the soil to help the veggies grow. Ferguson Farm has won many soil conservation awards and even has it’s own water source from an underground spring that is free from any contamination! All of these factors contribute to Ferguson Farm only needing to spray their crops a very minimal amount when they are seedlings to keep the insects from completely devouring them. This classifies them as one of our low-spray farmers and by the time the veggies are to the size that you see them in our store, hardly any of the residual chemicals are left in them. Plus, if the bugs like them, then they have to be good! Right now we have tons of delicious greens that Darrell hand-picks himself and delivers to us within hours to make sure that we only get the freshest stuff! Right now we have collards for you to cook for good luck and for holiday feasts as well as broad-leaf mustard greens and turnip greens. In the upcoming seasons, keep an eye out for their varieties of squash, peppers, tomatoes, and produce from their Organic test plot! What you won’t see ever are eggs from Ferguson Farm, Darrell has converted all of the roosting houses to tractor and farming machine storage after having his fill of collecting eggs as a childhood chore!

Featured #SwampFarmer: Southern Berkshire Farm!

img_0618Clinton and Jesse Pace, of Berkshire Farms in Westminster, SC, are officially our youngest farmers and newest addition to the Swamp Farmer family! They provide pasture-raised, non-GMO, soy- and corn-free Cornish cross chickens to both our Swamp Kitchen and our Grocery, and for the very first time, they are supplying us with broad-breasted turkeys this Thanksgiving! Our swamp staff had the pleasure of visiting this farm last week, and Farmer Jesse gave us a tutorial on how they care for their animals! Within 18 days of chicks being born, they are hand-carried to the pasture in rotation and allowed to eat and move to their hearts desire in large chicken tractors or fenced-in areas. When animals live on pasture, they eat a more varied diet of different grasses, herbs, and flowers. The diet has an enormous impact on the flavor of meat it produces, and that’s why we use it in our famous pot pies and chicken enchiladas. The woods surrounding the farm contain a ton of predators that would find a growing chicken to be a delicious treat, so the chicken tractors and fencing help to keep them safe and free from harm. Growing chickens need protein and in times of drought and cold, the bugs may be in short supply and so the chickens are fed a supplementary feed that is non-GMO, soy-free, and corn-free to keep them healthy. Despite Clinton and Jesse’s young age, they already have 10 years of experience in sustainable farming practices and understand the value of symbiotic use of land and humane practices. Keep an eye out in the future for their amazing goat meatballs and forest-raised, Berkshire heritage pork! They love having visitors and welcoming the community to their farm, so feel free to ask us for more information about them or to schedule a visit!

img_0816   img_0689   img_0722   img_0716   img_0622

SBDC Small Business of the Year Award

“On July 12, the Greenville Small Business Development Council hosted more than 100 area leaders for their first ever Small Business Awards Ceremony…The Greenville SBDC Small Business of the Year award was established to recognize a company that has served Greenville for five years and demonstrated growth in revenue, job creation and market size. The company should also be able to provide examples of their lasting impact on the Upstate community. Once all of the award nominations were reviewed, it was clear that the Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery met all of the required criteria, and then some.”

Read the article here.