WFCF Storybit: Welch Cattle Co.

The agricultural sector is growing faster by the day and here at Where Food Comes From we stay pretty busy helping to ensure you receive the best quality food you can through our efforts to promote transparency and sustainability.  So, with this increasing demand comes the need for more farmers and ranchers like our friends at Welch Cattle Company.  Being a rancher doesn’t just mean watching over the farm, it means operating in various structures and environments and understanding all the different processes of raising healthy livestock.  Even as the sun goes down, the Welch’s job is far from over.  Let’s check out more of the story behind this busy family!

The Story

John Welch was born in Midland, Texas. He graduated from Midland High School in 1968 and from Texas A&M University in 1972 with his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics. Upon graduation, he worked for CattleFax, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA), managed a feedyard and was a commodities broker for an investor cattle feeding company.  If he wasn’t busy enough, John also ranched on the side, which was the beginning of a new direction for him.

In 1984, he became a full-time self-employed rancher with operations in Colorado and Nebraska. By 1992, John purchased property southeast of Pueblo, Colorado with his wife, Bonnie.  It was referred to as the Apishapa Canyon Ranch, which remains the ranch headquarters today. Welch Cattle Company was officially formed in November of 2007.  Besides owning the ranch, they also lease the ground.  Colorado isn’t the only place Welch Cattle Company has cattle as they also operate in Texas and Montana, a national operation in every sense of the phrase.

Today, John remains active in the operation, but his son Andy has taken over the reins as ranch manager. His other two sons, Bob and Wesley, are also members of WCC.  This is truly a family operation.  Welch Cattle Company raises commercial cow/calf pairs with SimAngus, Balancer, and Wagyu genetics. Although running a ranch can be stressful at times, the Welch family finds it very rewarding.  A business started from scratch has turned into a self-sustaining cattle operation.

Verification

Welch Cattle Company participates in Age and Source Verification, Non-Hormone Treated Cattle, Verified Natural Beef and BeefCARE. As you’ve probably heard more than once by now, BeefCARE is our sustainability program that helps farmers, ranchers and food producers with sustainability and continuous improvement. Sustainable practices and verification provide you with the peace of mind of knowing where your food comes from.  Welch Cattle Company is proud to partner with Where Food Comes From to help bring transparency to your table.  Making the decision to participate in third-party verification programs was an easy decision because they already had most of the practices in place.

Why Verify

They care deeply for their land, animals, community, and employees. They ranch in a very unforgiving climate where drought is common, they meet the fragile ecosystem on its terms. Sometimes this means making certain sacrifices when it comes to profitability.  The health of their cattle and land come first.  They strive to put their very best effort into everything they do. At the end of the day, John and team want you to trust and feel confident sharing their products with your family and friends.

Third-party verification programs are important for several reasons. One, it holds the ranch accountable for their actions and claims. The verifiers (Hey! That’s us!) are adept at their job and recognize when programs are in place. More importantly, it gives you confidence that our products are what Welch Cattle Company say they are. With the support of Where Food Comes From, Welch Cattle’s claims are validated for the cattle feeders, packers, retailers, and customers.  This means everyone can be confident that WCC is providing safe, healthy, well-cared-for, and nutritious beef.

 

WFCF Storybit: Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers

Seasons change from Spring to Summer to Fall bringing on a different array of colors, smells, and ambiance.  Part of that atmosphere and those changes include seasonal flowers.  Whether you’re decorating for an upcoming holiday or just bringing fresh foliage into your home, flowers are a great way to express your style and to brighten up any space.  Our friends at Resendiz Brothers know all too well about sharing styles.  In fact, flowers are their passion, specifically unique exotic flowers.  Today, we are sharing their story, their commitment to the American floral industry and why they put their heart into every arrangement that they create.

Their Story

Mel Resendiz came from a struggling farm family, and his journey to success is truly the American dream. Although he started out small, he worked hard year after year to become a successful business owner.  At age 14, Mel left his home and journeyed to Sinaloa, Mexico, where he started his farming career cutting sugarcane and picking cotton.  That job taught him a lot about hard work and dependability.  Within a few months he went from cutting and picking to supervising an entire crew.  After spending five years in Sinaloa, at age 18 and $70 in his pocket, Mel made the decision to move to the United States.  He started working for Zorro Protea Farms, which developed the first commercial Protea nursery in northern San Diego county.  This was Mel’s introduction to the Protea floral family and by 1988 he had been promoted to farm manager.

Several years later in 1995 Mel purchased his first piece of land – 10 acres in the hills of Rainbow, Cali.  He named the parcel “Rainbow Crest,” and quickly filled it with his beloved Protea plants. The next year, Mel permanently planted himself in the United States, becoming a naturalized U.S. cit­izen.  His passion for flowers and plants continued to grow and they became even more a part of his life.  In 1999, Mel’s dream came to fruition and Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers was formed.  Resendiz Brother’s mission has been to consistently provide the newest, freshest, unique and exotic flowers and foliage available to their customers throughout the year.  Mel has also become a valuable educational resource to the floral industry and overall community on the Protea flower as well as many other unique flowers that they grow on the farm.  The flowers are his family and he loves them all, which is why he still takes an active role in the farm.  You can find Mel helping with everything from office duties to the plant nursery to the fields.

Certification

Today, Mel is part of the growing community of Certified American Grown farmers.  This community is a diverse group of flower farmers across the country that specialize in homegrown flowers and foliage.  This means if you purchase flowers from a Certified American Grown farmer, you are guaranteed to know the American origin of the flowers and foliage. Certified American Grown stands for the high quality you desire, while putting an emphasis on the importance of supporting American farmers.  This is achieved by following specific sustainability standards during flower production.  Resendiz Brothers is also certified by BloomCheck, which is a sustainability Standard for the floral industry.


Why Certify

When Mel and team began to actively manage their environmental footprint within their farming practices, they realized the first order of business was a mindset change. They grew up in a world where energy and materials were assumed to be unlimited. Changing wasteful behavior requires a conscious effort. Today, it’s impossible to be a successful farmer without the same qualities required by sustainability: thriftiness, efficiency and a respect for the land.

Anyone who is touched by the flower industry can appreciate a flower farmers’ dedication to implementing sustainable growing practices that respect surrounding ecosystems, reduce transportation footprints, and conserve water and energy.  It’s their goal to put local, sustainably grown American flowers front and center with consumers, retailers and wholesalers. They are proud of the bounty and beauty they bring into homes, special events and life’s celebrations.

 

WFCF Storybit Video on Resendiz Brothers – now that you’ve read about their story, be sure to watch Mel tell his own story!

 

Visit Resendiz Brothers online, and you can even order from them directly at The Protea Store.
Certified American Grown
BloomCheck Sustainability Standard
Where Food Comes From

WFCF Storybit: Bluhen Acres

Think back to all the major moments in your life.  Engagements, weddings, baby showers, graduations, birthdays and the list goes on and on.  Each of these moments triggered an emotion in you with lasting memories. In fact, you’re probably smiling right now just thinking about it.  Celebrated with giggles, smiles, and even some tears, no moment was too big or too small.  In fact, there was likely a form of beauty soaking up the essence of these moments; flowers.  Can you close your eyes and see the gorgeous arrangements from your wedding or the moment your parents handed you that vibrant bouquet after your last moment as a high schooler? Whatever the memory, it was most likely surrounded by flowers. You see, there’s a reason and purpose behind everything, a motto we follow here at Where Food Comes From.  Our Certified American Grown farmers are cultivators of beauty and being part of your special moments makes it all worth it.  This week we introduce you to Kate and Rand Lindhorst from Bluhen Acres.  Sit back, relax, and smell the Zinnias and Dahlias as we dive into their story. 


The Story

 In early 2018, Kate and her husband, along with their three children, purchased a 30-acre farm In Nichols, New York. The young girls had a love for horses and with the amount of land there was a perfect opportunity to explore.  It was also an opportunity for Rand, Kate’s husband, to reunite with what he loved to do, working with cattle. Shortly after the move, Kate realized how much land they weren’t utilizing, and she sought out to find her own calling, a way she could connect with the land.  As she looks back over the years, Kate says she’s not sure if she found the flowers or if they found her.  Whatever the case it “grew” into something larger than she imagined.

Fast forward to 2020 and Kate is growing what she loves and she’s able to share them with her community by way of a flower shop. Bluhen Acres grows multiple varieties of cut flowers, while also offering a full range of wedding services such as bulk buckets, flower bars, and a la cart selections.  They transform any wedding into an array of visual beauty.  Even if you’re not planning a wedding, they offer specialty grab-and-go bouquets and 4-week subscription service that is filled with lush summer flowers.  Who doesn’t love having flowers all the time?  If you need a vase, no problem!  They have a beautiful selection you can handpick for your arrangements.

2020 has been a bit of a turning point for Kate and her family.  This year they decided it was time to get a little more serious about how they present their business to the public. Thrilled about what they grow, where they grow, and the way they grow, they knew getting verified was the next logical step.  They wanted to share their story and show the community how they hold their flowers to a higher standard.  The best way to do that was to become Certified American Grown.  Kate and Rand wanted people to feel proud when they bought from Bluhen Acres and buying Certified American Grown adds to that sense of pride. It’s a contribution to the local economy and community, but also the farmers who work tirelessly to be good stewards of the land that they’ve been entrusted with.

Seeing that Certified American Grown label plants a seed (so to speak) of pride for the consumer knowing that they have helped a domestic business. As consumers start questioning and seeking out answers about where products come from, we begin to gather a deeper understanding of the importance of source of origin from everything from our food to the gorgeous flowers that fill our homes and celebrations. Being part of that conversation is something that Bluhen Acres is passionate about! 


Verification

When people are passionate about what they do, seeking to make their product the best that it can be becomes second nature.  Verification is no longer just about food.  Instead, it includes a range of other products.  In 2013, the American Grown Flowers & Foliage Task Force was formed and the following year they partnered with us at Where Food Comes From to conduct the verification of their program.   Like many of the third-party verification programs we highlight, this one is no different.  CAG requires an audit process, which Kate and Rand completed to receive certification.  This assures consumers that the flowers with the CAG logo are grown and assembled in the U.S.  Today, this program verifies millions of flowers each year, including those at Bluhen Acres.

Why Verify

Kate and Rand are a hardworking couple who found happiness and connection through cultivation and sustainability. Their dream of spreading joy through their flowers led them to their commitment to cultivate transparency with their consumers.  The backbone of Bluhen Acres, along with their three children, is what brings excitement to their life.  So, to answer the question why they verify?  That’s simple, the look on someone’s face when you hand them a fresh cut bouquet is why they do it, every lasting memory, because being a part of your moments is unforgettable, and to gain trust in consumers through a verified label is important to them.

If you want to learn more about Kate and Rand, visit Bluhen Acres.


         

WFCF CARE Defines Sustainability Through Core Values

Our blog series has recently focused on the three pillars of CARE, but, it wouldn’t be complete without also spending time on discussing the values that make up CARE.  Values guide a person’s actions and in the case of the Where Food Comes From CARE Standard, they serve as cornerstones rooted deeply across our brand.  If you think about it, we are similar to a tree.  Very much embedded with the earth and people around us.  Our branches represent our family, ranchers, farmers, growers, supporters, community, people and partnerships while our values are rooted deep within Where Food Comes From CARE.

As you’ve learned, CARE is a sustainability standard for beef, pork, poultry and dairy farmers and ranchers.  But, sustainability has become quite the buzz word, so, our founders, John and Leann Saunders, made sure that they defined what sustainability meant to them, and what it mean to the CARE program.

John Saunders, CEO and co-Founder, told us

“I think one thing that we really have an opportunity to do is define what sustainability really means.  The definition says it is a “means of producing something that does not deplete over time,” and there’s a lot of ways that you can interpret that.  If you talk to our farmers and ranchers, sustainability is about maintaining the business, making sure it’s something they can pass down to their children and grandchildren.  When you talk to consumers, their idea of sustainability is much different and much more to do with environmental stewardship.  We felt it was so important to add some other words that we thought were critical when we started to define sustainability:

Leann Saunders, President and Co-Founder, went on to add,

“I think one thing that has become apparent is this demand around communication and communication around sustainability practices.  What does sustainability mean? How do we help them verify and continuously improve sustainability on their operations for the future?  How do we then also still communicate what they’re doing with consumers in a way that’s transparent and authentic.  It’s all about the producer looking at the opportunity and aligning their values with the consumers they want to try and approach and then recognizing that third-party verification is so important in the marketplace today because it’s all about trust but verify.”

It is our hope that the stories we share help demonstrate our transparency to you.  We strive to continue to be open and accessible with all aspects of our programs.  This means communicating about the care of the animals and earth through our values and our pillars.  From the food, water and cleanliness of animal housing to the care of the people and communities that support the farms, it all matters.  Farmers and ranchers have a desire to communicate with you about the care they take in raising your food and that’s why it’s a desire of Where Food Comes From to highlight as many of our partner farms, ranches and growers as possible.

It’s no secret we love supporting our communities and our farmers.  We have more than 100 farms and ranches that are now CARE Certified, all of which will soon be making their way to your grocery store.  One thing you can count on when you see CARE Certified product, is that they all have a vested in providing you with authentic, transparent and sustainable food options.

We know that the options at the store are overwhelming, which is why third-party verification and certification is so critical.  You need the right information to narrow your decisions.  When you see our claims on packaging at your local grocery you can have confidence in those products.  You can trust that the product came from a verifiable source.  We know them, we audit them and verify their products come from where they say they do.  It is our hope that, through us, you come to know some of them too. Just like the tree, our values are rooted deep.

Learn more about WFCF CARE.

WFCF CARE : People & Community

As human beings we want to connect with others in a more meaningful way, whether this is through online communities or in person, we crave it.  Over the last several years our community at Where Food Comes From has grown.  Our community has brought individuals from all parts of the United States together sharing their perspective and knowledge of the food industry.  With the help of these individuals, we’ve been able to educate you about the importance of food production, their sustainable practices and recently, we’ve taken a stance on “Sustainability” and what we believe it means.   Our third pillar of the CARE program is People and Community, because farmers and ranchers know that without their families, their employees and their local, rural communities, they wouldn’t be where they are today.

Every farmer and rancher who participates in CARE becomes a part of our team. If you’ve been reading our weekly blog, you’ve actually met some of them!  This is one way we highlight the excellent work and due diligence that they put forth.  They obtaining CARE certification, they exhibit all of the pillars that encompass CARE; Animal Husbandry, Environmental Stewardship, People & Community.  Every meal has a story and we are here to help you discover it.

Part of that discovery is understanding every element from point of origin to plate. This is why we bring these stories to the forefront and give you the behind the scenes view of farms and ranches.  Certification happens at every level from animal husbandry, environmental standards, to the welfare of the employees.  Part of our pillars within every standard of CARE, is ensuring the health and safety of every individual.  This ranges from compensation, benefits, work conditions, and opportunity for growth.  Farmers and ranchers count on these individuals to provide the highest care for the animals around the clock. So, it’s important we take care of them as well whether that’s an employee or a family member.   Many of the CARE farms and ranches have generations of family farming experience, but, some of them are first generations.  Either way, these farms and ranches also work toward planning for the next generation.

Understanding the importance of People & Community means helping a fellow farmer build a fence, donate food to the local schools, 4-H and FFA organizations or providing support when a natural disaster occurs.  CARE represents a community of farms and ranches that are committed to doing the right thing and understanding each other’s challenges.  They lean on each other when they need it.  When you’re a part of CARE, you’re part of an entire life-long community providing better food options for generations to come.

WFCF CARE : Environmental Stewardship

Our planet, and each of our environments evolve over time.  While farmers and ranches take from the ground, they are also very cognizant to give back to it.  It’s like a work of art, or science, in a sense.  Something that grows into something greater than when you started. With every proverbial brush stroke something new is created, that is greater, more detailed and more thoughtful than what was there when the artist began.  Here at Where Food Comes From, you could say we support our own type of art, and science – food production.  So, this week we continue our look into the Where Food Comes From CARE sustainability standard by discussing the second pillar of CARE: Environmental Stewardship.

Last week, we looked a little deeper into Animal Husbandry, the first pillar in our CARE standard. However, the health and conditions the animals are raised in isn’t the only important aspect of food production, and you – consumers – are looking for more from the food you eat. This is why the second pillar of CARE is Environmental Stewardship.

According to the latest census, consumers are three, sometimes four, generations removed from food production.  So, it’s easy for consumers to have a hard time understanding what goes into the job that farmers and ranchers hold so much passion for.  It’s a science.  Literally.  Producers must understand their soil and water health for their animals, but also to keep their land improving, and they’re eager to keep learning!  Alexis Budde, a WFCF Customer Verification Specialist (CVS) Regional Manager, says most of her producers attend seminars or events on a regular basis to ensure they are learning as much as they can to improve their environments as well as their operations.

One way that farmers and ranchers exercise environmental stewardship is by continuously trying to decrease their carbon footprint.  They all have some sort of grazing management plan in place.  Rotational grazing, which means they move their cattle from pasture to pasture to ensure it doesn’t get overused, is a very common practice.  “But, grazing management is more complex than just cattle rotations.  It includes diversity of vegetation, understanding how rotations affect not just the quantity of pasture grasses but also the quality, controlling erosion and weeds to improve grass diversity.  Most of these grazing plans also include plans for increasing wildlife presence for biodiversity. “ says Kelly Crymble, a CVS Regional Manager for WFCF.

The processes they develop turn into long-term strategies that they use as continuous improvement goals on their operation.  However, the farmers and ranchers that we partner with don’t just stick to the norm, they go outside the box by pushing the standards related to sustainability.  In fact, last week, one rancher told us he uses a drone to check his water sources across 30,000 acres instead of driving so he can reduce emissions!  And, many, many producers have moved to solar and wind power to run their wells for water as well.  They all say they choose efficient vehicles or equipment based on the specific task they are doing.  They do this not only to reserve energy sources, but to lesson the impact on their environments.

WFCF CARE ranchers truly believe that in order to provide a better product and to not only leave the land the way they left it, but leave it better, that they “have to do more with less.”

Waste is another concern when it comes to being good stewards of the land our farmers and ranchers cultivate.  Think about the amount of trash you personally produce; you’ve probably found ways to reduce it through recycling and purchasing items that can be reused.  Farmers and ranchers who CARE are finding ways to manage and optimize their waste.  On a farm you can reduce waste in several ways; by using specialized water filtration, reducing runoff, and utilizing manure as a natural fertilization.

At the end of the day, farmers and ranchers that have made it their livelihood to produce your food try each and every day to take care of the land.   They understand that without the land, they can’t do what they love and you wouldn’t have food on your table.  The land will remain long after we are gone, but it’s important that we are leaving it in the best possible shape for future generations.  CARE helps farmers and ranchers communicate with consumers that the products with the CARE seal are doing what they can to give back.

Learn more about CARE by visiting our website, you’ll even find a few of the ranches that sell their beef (more coming soon!) direct-to-consumer as well as catch some of the Storybit videos we have featured this year.  Tune in for next week’s blog as we introduce you to our third and final pillar of CARE: People & Community.

 

Pictures featured: 
Five Dot Ranch (2) and (3)
Eagle Rock Ranch (1) and (4)

WFCF CARE : Animal Husbandry

Did you know that 65% of consumers prefer to eat proteins from animals raised in humane conditions?  What about the fact that 54% of consumers feel that meat should only come from farms that practice sustainable agriculture?  But, how do consumers know if that was the case?  Well, 39% of consumers scan a meat package for certifications before they buy.  Do we believe that most producers are doing the right thing?  Yes.  But, consumers are now three, sometimes four, generations removed from agriculture.  So they don’t know know any farmers or ranchers directly, and they aren’t taking our word for it anymore.

By creating the Where Food Comes From CARE Standard we knew it gave farmers and ranchers a way to communicate their story with the consumers that are looking to buy their products. Farmers and ranchers support the same values we do, and without them none of this would be possible.  They strive to be as transparent as possible with consumers in hopes to gain their trust.  Remember, it takes a village and we want you to be a part of it.

If you’ve been reading our blogs, then you know we’ve taken every opportunity to help promote farmers, ranchers and growers in the food industry.  We believe in helping them tell their story to consumers.  Our CARE values are rooted in a firm belief that farmers and ranchers are stewards of their natural resources and part of that stewardship means the care of their animals and people. This is why the first pillar of the Where Food Comes From CARE standard is Animal Husbandry.

Those hardworking individuals spend day and night with their animals to ensure they are happy, content, and healthy throughout their lifecycle.  Basically, out there living their best life. Each of our standards – BeefCARE, DairyCARE, PoultryCARE, and PorkCARE – include specific requirements regarding the care of each animal.  If you’ve never been on a farm you are probably wondering what exactly that means.  Some of the things we look for include access of food and water for the animals, animal spacing and even how they are transported from one location to the next.  All of those aspects matter when it comes to keeping the animals healthy.

Think about it this way; in your own environment the food you eat and the safety guidelines you follow directly affect your health and the same holds true when we look into the health and wellbeing of animals.  Farmers partake in animal care training to ensure they are following practices to ensure the safety of the animals in addition to their health.  We do the same as humans.  Nurses train to take care of us and farmers train to care for their animals.   It’s a good feeling knowing there is transparency when it comes to your food.  When you see the CARE label on your food, you can trust that the animal was well cared for and that claim was verified by a third-party verification provider, us, at Where Food Comes From, Inc.

So, the reason we CARE, well that’s quite simple, the health and well-being of others.  You see, as our community continues grow, that’s more people spreading the word and adopting sustainable practices.  This journey might have started because of the vision of our two founders, but it’s because of farmers and ranchers who strive for a sustainable future that it is the beginning of a food revolution.  If you want to learn more about Where Food Comes From CARE, you can check out our site.


Statistics reported from the “Power of Meat 2019” and Midan Marketing Segmentation 2.0 Research.

WFCF Storybit: Alaska Beauty Peony Co-op

Close your eyes and imagine these colors; alluring corals, pristine white, and luscious reds.  Both beautiful and calming to the mind. Can you think back to a time when you received an arrangement of flowers or walked past a colorful bouquet and how it made you feel?  It probably put a smile on your face or made you feel good inside.  To keep you in the spirit, we are brightening your week with incredible arrangements from the Alaska Beauty Peony Cooperative.

The Story
Five peony farmers founded the Alaska Beauty Peony Cooperative in December 2013 with a goal of creating sustainable cut flowers.  They knew setting themselves apart from others in the flower industry would be key.  With the help of shared marketing resources, infrastructure and education in the Homer area they “grew,” no pun intended, into a sustainable flower farm.

Their growers cooperative now includes eleven family owned farms. That’s five generations that actively participate in the co-op operations today.  Several of the farms are even located on homesteads established prior to Alaska’s statehood.  Needless to say, these farms have been around for a while.

These farmers are dedicated to bringing you premium peonies all through sustainable practices.  That means they follow specific farming practices including using chemical-free design techniques.  Being sustainable isn’t only for food practices, but flowers too!  Whether you’re planning for a wedding or need some flowers for that special someone to brighten their day, Alaska Beauty Peonies Co-op has you covered with sustainable options. To learn more about their varieties you can visit their website.

Certified American Grown Certification
All of the farms are American Grown Certified. That means they follow specific practices and policies to ensure everything is grown and processed in the United States. Where Food Comes From conducts the audits for all Certified American Grown flowers. By partnering with a third-party verified program, Alaska Beauty Peonies Co-op is able to provide the trust you need when purchasing flowers with specific claims.

Alaska Beauty Peony Co-op is also a member of the California Cut Flowers Association and Alaska Peony Growers Association. In addition to the mentioned certifications, the growers are considering Salmon Safe, Sustainably Grown and Organically Grown certifications.  They want their product to be identified with the high standards associated with these locally grown labels because they know that is important to those that purchase their flowers just as much as it is important to them. 

Why Certify
There is a growing consumer trend for brands to carry specific certifications as consumers start to seek them out when they purchase all types of products.  This means certain grocers are very interested in supplying their stores with brands that carry these certifications. Alaska Beauty Peony is considering additional sustainability certifications to acknowledge practices that they already implement today. Their plants benefit from cover crops, use of animal manures, and the gifts of the local marine environment where fish by-products and kelp, are used extensively to feed their flowers. They believe these certification programs help tell you the story of farmers and what they represent.

How to Order
Alaska’s cool summers and midnight sun aid their farmers in cultivating peonies of extraordinary size (6-8″ blooms!) with intense color saturation. They are able to supply farm fresh flowers starting in late June through early September (the longest harvest period for fresh cut peonies in North America) and they are the only source for fresh cut peony stems in late Summer. They harvest at the mature bud stage, so their flowers travel well through the cold chain. They ship flowers direct to doors across North America and can-do air cargo for large orders.  To check out their floral inventory or to place an order, check them out online, or follow them on Facebook or Instagram at @alaskabeautypeony.

WFCF Storybit : Five Dot Ranch

  Saddle up, this week you’re in for a treat as our next WFCF Storybit feature takes us to Five Dot Ranch in Susanville, Cali.  This isn’t your typical family ranch, because, not only do they raise cattle, but they also have their own butcher shop and restaurant located in Napa Valley, Cali. At their restaurant, The Cookhouse, they do things a little differently. You pick it, they grill it! That’s right, at their restaurant you pick any fresh cut from their meat case and they grill your pick just for you.  Locals even have the chance to buy beef and take it home for themselves.  So while you’re thinking of planning your next trip to Napa, let’s dive into the story of the Swickard Family and Five Dot Ranch.

The Story

In order to get to the beginning of the Swickard family’s long history and tradition when it comes to cattle, we have to look all the way back to 1852 to get it. Traveling by wagon across the plains and the Rockies, the Swickard’s landed in California in 1859 with 250 head of cattle. Their story continued to evolve over the decades as the ranch they established was continually passed down to the next generation.

In 1949, Jack Swickard would have his turn, at the age of 15, to step in and help care for the cattle and the ranch. Jack was one of the youngest purebred Hereford breeders in the nation. If that wasn’t enough, Jack was also the youngest commercial breeder in the Santa Clara Valley. He was quite the local celebrity. He took over the ranch and put the Swickard Ranch on a path to success. Along with the success of the ranch, Jack was also expanding his family. After marrying Margret Hangstabeck, they had two sons, Tim and Todd. In 1959, the family would soon be on the move north to Susanville, California. Jack planted new roots and started the Five Dot Land and Cattle Company in Lassen county, now full of Angus cattle as well. Within four years of Jack starting with 200 registered Hereford cattle, his brother, Tom, joined him. Together they developed successful herds and land operations.

In 1994, Todd, Jack’s son, would step in to take over the daily operations of the ranch. Since that time, Todd and his wife, Loretta have maintained the herd and in 2006 developed a Verified Natural Beef, a third-party verified branded beef program, named Five Dot Ranch.  They had been raising Natural cattle since the ’90s and saw a demand in California.

They spent every weekend visiting farmers markets throughout the state, which is what got them noticed by the people that were opening up the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, Cali.  So, in 2008, they took the plunge and dove head first into the restaurant industry! Today, their beef product is sold wholesale to multiple restaurants in California, and most recently has been added to Crowd Cow.  Todd and Loretta’s children now assist with the ranch and make up the 7th generation family ranching legacy, and the first born of the 8th generation was born last year!

Verification

Today, Five Dot Ranch takes part in many, many verification programs through Where Food Comes From and their IMI Global division.  They are Source & Age Verified, Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC), Verified Natural Beef (VNB) and Non-GMO Project Verified.  Todd is dedicated to creating a product he’s proud to put their family’s name on. Through the use of verification programs and labeling claims, the team is able to learn about new processes and Standards that help continually improve their product. Verification is more than a term, it’s a commitment to their consumers.

Why Verify

The team at Five Dot Ranch is highly skilled and focused on the quality of their Angus cattle herd. This includes everything from what the cattle eat to their daily care. They own and trace every cattle they produce because they know the importance of understanding the story behind your food. Their standards are high and proud producers of beef. They believe in order to raise natural cattle they must provide the finest environment and sustainable practices. If you want to learn more about Five Dot Ranch check out their site, and stay tuned for our next WFCF Storybit video!

WFCF CARE : PoultryCARE Added to Suite of Sustainability Programs

Another week brings more exciting news for our Where Food Comes From fans!  A few weeks ago, we got a chance to introduce you to our latest Where Food Comes From Standard: CARE™.   We are humbled at the wonderful response from consumers as well as our producers who have embraced CARE so quickly. With that positive response, we are excited to announce an update to the CARE suite of sustainability standards with our most recent addition, PoultryCARE!  So, keep reading as we explore more about CARE and introduce PoultryCARE into the CARE family.

What is CARE?

John and Leann Saunders, the founders of Where Food Comes started with a vision more than 25 years ago to create traceable, transparent food systems for producers and consumers.  Now, Where Food Comes From has expanded that vision by introducing a new program called CARE.

Let’s tell you a bit about the new program.  Where Food Comes From CARE is a suite of sustainability standards.  If you’ve been following our journey for a while, then your familiar with what sustainability means.  If your new to us, don’t worry, we will give you a quick crash course. You might hear others throwing the word around and it may be used in many different ways.  When Where Food Comes From talks about “Sustainable Agriculture” they mean doing what’s right when it comes to the animals, the environment and the people and communities in which they live.  This means caring for animals, environment, and people through wellbeing policies and practices, while also reducing their waste and energy by creating long-term strategies.

The CARE program certifies participating farmers and ranchers are implementing best practices in animal husbandry, environmental stewardship and a productive engagement with their local communities and the people within them.

The Standards

The BeefCARE Standard was the first program introduced into the CARE suite of sustainability Standards.  IMI Global, a division of Where Food Comes From, launched BeefCARE to help to provide a better future for all generations to come by allowing producers to have a continuous improvement plan on their operations.

The DairyCARE Standard was launched next.  This program is administered by Validus Verification Services, a division of Where Food Comes From.  Dairy operations are evaluated under three specific Validus programs, this includes animal welfare, environment and worker review standards.

The PoultryCARE standard is the newest to be added to the CARE suite.  The main objective in developing the PoultryCARE standard was to develop a set of standards that reflect state of the art best practice and science in sustainable poultry production for the protection of birds, workers and the environment. PoultryCARE is the poultry industry’s most comprehensive third-party verified sustainability program.  It will be administered by WFCF’s IMI Global division, utilizing reviewers and auditors with extensive experience in poultry production. Certification to the PoultryCARE Standard is achieved following on-farm evaluations by IMI Global auditors who focus on the same three pillars as the BeefCARE Standard : Animal Husbandry, Environmental Stewardship and People & Community.

The launch of PoultryCARE follows the recent rollout of WFCF’s BeefCARE™ and DairyCARE™ Standards.  WFCF’s goal is to establish its CARE sustainability Standards as the gold standard throughout the food supply chain.

To Learn More  

Today, Where Food Comes From supports more than 15,000 farmers, ranchers, vineyards, wineries, processors, retailers, distributors, trade associations, consumer brands and restaurants with a wide variety of value-added services.  That’s a lot of support and we’re growing!  The reason why farmers, consumers, brands and other organizations work with Where Food Comes From is because we lead with our heart.  Sustainability is important to everyone at Where Food Comes From. The demand has never been greater and Where Food Comes From is here to deliver on those demands through more transparency and standards.  So we thank you for letting us speak to you from our heart about something that we CARE so much about!

For more information, visit WFCF CARE.