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Local Farms, Local Fuel: Sustainable Farming 360

We’re excited to introduce another guest post from Marielle Angell, a PR intern at Blue Ridge Biofuels, or BRB (she’s also a farm intern at J-Bee Farm). Today, she tells the sustainability story of Hickory Nut Gap Farm! Click here for the first post in this series.

From the Pasture to the Fuel Tank
by Marielle Angell

There’s something to be said for Hickory Nut Gap Farm. Fourth-generation farmers Jamie and Amy Ager, along with family and their amazing staff, were voted First Place Local Farm in Best of WNC for the fourth year in a row this year. Witnessing their farming techniques firsthand, one can see why.

Their methodology is simple: farm the land in a way that allows the ecosystem to remain intact. Cows in the pasture are living in harmony with the land; the cows at Hickory Nut Gap are 100 percent grassfed. Hogs raised in the “bramble, stump, and steep style” make for pigs engaged in natural rooting tendencies. Moving the pigs often protects the ecosystem; since the animals will ignore anything taller than 24 inches, they’re cleaning and promoting new growth in the habitat while they eat. These hogs also enjoy a diet that includes conventional feed along with their wild foraging.

Jamie and Amy have studied farming systems all over the world in order to bring to life their sustainable interactive farm vision. As Jamie describes it, this cycle of health and well-being is brought back to the happy customer, one who can feel good about the meat they’re eating and the way it lived its life in accordance with the land. Evidence this resonates with consumers is shown by the grocery stores selling Hickory Nut Gap Farm meats in five states as well as more than 30 local restaurants and food vendors.

Another A+ effort at sustainability? All the farm’s tractors are run on biodiesel produced and delivered by Blue Ridge Biofuels. In fact, every off-road piece of equipment on the farm has energy supplied by locally made biofuels. Blue Ridge Biofuels makes their sustainable biodiesel from used cooking oil collected from area restaurants. Some of the area Appalachian Grown partner restaurants serving Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s meats include: The Admiral, Burgermeisters, Corner Kitchen, HomeGrown, Luella’s, Posana Cafe, and Red Stag Grill. These are also restaurant clients of Blue Ridge Biofuels’ oil collection service. This closed loop of “farm to table to fuel to farm” is what a thriving, locally integrated economy looks like.

Biodiesel from Blue Ridge Biofuels is one piece of the eco-puzzle, and the company proudly supports local area farmers in their efforts at greater sustainability. Blue Ridge Biofuels also looks forward to working with area farmers who will be growing canola for locally made cooking oil through the F3 project – from the Field to the Fryer to the Fuel Tank. Stay tuned!

Photos:
(top) Walker Sides, assistant farm manager at HNG, on the biodiesel run tractor!
(left) Marielle’s daughter, Bjorian Eaker, with HNG’s happy pigs!

 

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