Joy and Tim Alexander started the Richmond, Virginia farm in August 2007 and ran it with their six children. It started with a small cow-sharing program with nearby farms and has now expanded into producing and selling pastured eggs, grass-fed beef, pastured pork and free-range chickens. The Jersey herd is 100% grass-fed and no artificial hormones or grain is used.
Producing food with value
According to the video in this article Joy and Tim initially purchased a Jersey cow with the desire to give their kids an opportunity to experience hard work and exposure to agriculture as part of their home schooling. Joy started handing out flyers at a local market one day for people to share a cow with them and was very surprised how much demand there was. According to the farm website people purchase a share in a cow and pay a farmer to board and milk their cow so they can have access to real milk. The family had no agriculture background and had to learn everything about natural, organic, sustainable farming by reading books. They had a great adventure as a family learning, growing and working together and even had to move to a 100 year old house on a rental farm in 2009. They sent out word to the farm customers telling them of the family's relocation in order to continue to grow. Shortly after they received overwhelming support to fix up the house and the barn to enable the family to provide the wholesome food consumers valued so much.
A blessed 10 years of good food
Ten years later and the farm now has about 50 cows and some of the children are grown up and married with children of their own. Last year the farm produced 500 gallons of milk every week. The milk is simply filtered and bottled while still warm and then placed in an iced cooler and delivered to the consumer.
The law enables
The sale of unpasteurised milk for human consumption is illegal in the state of Virginia but drinking milk from a cow you own is not. According to the Raw Milk Nation Map there is no law against herd shares in Virginia. There are many raw dairies operating in the state and each has their own farming methods because there is no government requirement or state guidelines on how to produce raw milk for human consumption. Some test their milk and others do not. In America there is a popular saying; know your farmer. Even Dr. Oz said that raw milk is fine as long as you have a relationship with the farmer. See the video here.
Recently two news anchors went to Avery's Branch Farms to see if they have what it takes to work the land. Watch the video here.