The Healthy Planet
Family Raised Organic Farming
This month, I kick off a new feature here in Healthy Kansas City magazine, one focusing on choices people and businesses are making locally, nationally, and internationally to help insure a healthier planet. I will be bringing you their stories, their products, and their philosophies. This month, a tale of two farmers, a local one raising animals, and a national one growing grapes.
First, Kenny Barham of Barham Family Farms. As a disclaimer, I’ve known Barham and his family for years. I consider him a friend and feel his products are both healthy and delicious – not an easy combination to achieve. Barham and his family have dedicated their lives to producing local, healthy products without gmos, chemicals, antibiotics and growth hormones. Barham says it’s an approach that’s important for him, his family, and his customers. “We are a family farm with a passion for raising animals. We’re lucky that our passion also comes with the opportunity to provide customers products that are healthy and nutrient-rich, products they can feel good about feeding their families,” Barham shared.
You’ll find the Barham Family Farm near Kearney, MO, where for three generations the Barhams have been raising animals and producing food the right way, humanely and chemical free. Barham Family Farm offers pasture-raised beef, chicken, eggs, pork, and lamb – all antibiotic and growth hormone free. “We take great pride in raising our cattle always on grass, and they are never feedlot confined. A variety of options to enjoy our beef include by the cut, quarter, half or whole beef,” Barham stated.
Barham chickens are raised on grass, fresh air and locally grown non-gmo grains. The Barhams get day-old chicks, which they brood inside for two weeks before moving them to outside pasture pens. “We move the pens morning and night, so they always have plenty of fresh grass,” Barham said. There are free range eggs, pork sold by the pound as chops, bacon, sausage and bratwurst. Barham Family Farms also features pasture-raised lamb chops, ground lamb, racks, and lamb legs. You can even buy marrow for a heathier stock!
“We want to be our customers’ pasture to porch farmer that they can count on for healthy, delicious options that fit into their busy lifestyle,” Barham told me.
For Barham, the bottom line is local and healthy, which leads to eating food that’s better for us. That’s something I think we all can get behind.
Not long ago, I caught up with one of my favorite people in the wine business – Bob Blue, founding winemaker at Bonterra Organic Vineyards in Mendocino County, CA. Bonterra and Blue are celebrating 30 years of organic farming. I chatted with him over the phone about what that achievement means to him personally and professionally.
“It’s hard to believe that we’ve been at it that long, but I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Blue told me. Blue recalled the early days of Bonterra when the organic efforts started with some local chefs and a garden before spreading to the vineyards. “We saw how good the produce was coming out of this garden and saw what some really talented chefs were able to do with that produce. We started to wonder why we couldn’t do that with our vineyards and our grapes,” Blue recalled.
In the early days, and these really were early days for organic grape growing, there wasn’t a blueprint. So, Blue and his team studied and learned – not just about organic farming, but how organic farming could improve everything around them from the land and water to the plants and animals. “For us, when we started thinking organic, we focused on the vineyards first, of course. But, soon you realize what you’re doing has an impact on the streams and rivers around you, as well as the wildlife and the other animals, right down to the insects,” Blue shared. “It really becomes a positive choice for your community, not just your vineyards.”
Decades ago, Bonterra made the leap from Organic to Biodynamic. It’s a methodology that is at the core of Blue’s and Bonterra’s beliefs. Our three ranches are certified Biodynamic. “The principle of Biodynamic farming is the simplest way to understand what it is: a living organism which is self-contained, self-sustaining, and follows the cycles of nature,” Bonterra’s website reads. “Years ago, a family farm would often exist in isolation, requiring people, animals and plants to sustain one another. These systems function together to create a single living organism: the farm as a whole. We farm our Biodynamic ranches striving to achieve this ideal with as few external inputs as possible. Biodynamic farming is a holistic view of agriculture with high awareness of the interconnectivity between earth, plants, animals, humans, the moon and planets.”
After 30 years of organic farming, Blue and Bonterra have scientific proof of the positive impacts their farming choices have had. But for Blue and his team, the real evidence is in the bottle. Blue says Bonterra wines have never been better. Having filmed with them and tasted their wines some 20-years now, I wholeheartedly concur. Happy Anniversary, Bob! Keep up the good work!