Local family’s organic farm has lofty goals, help them kickstart their way to reduced energy produce

by | Jan 23, 2015 | POLITICS

Shaun and Heather Alf started Cheerful Chicken Farms in Disputanta, VA, two years ago after moving from Florida. Shaun, now in the army reserves, was stationed at Ft. Eustis in Newport News with his wife Heather and their five kids. They fell in love with the place, and before long decided to settle and establish their farm here–but not before looking into eastern VA’s fowl-past.


Shaun and Heather Alf started Cheerful Chicken Farms in Disputanta, VA, two years ago after moving from Florida. Shaun, now in the army reserves, was stationed at Ft. Eustis in Newport News with his wife Heather and their five kids. They fell in love with the place, and before long decided to settle and establish their farm here–but not before looking into eastern VA’s fowl-past.

“We read that in the 1800’s they found that Norfolk had the highest egg production because it doesn’t get too hot or too cold, and we wanted to produce eggs, so Norfolk sounded good,” said Heather Alf about settling in Virginia. They are now an hour and a half north of Norfolk, closer to Richmond.

The family recently started a Kickstarter, which ends January 31st, 2015; the fundraiser’s purpose: enabling small poultry and cattle producers to become more self-reliant by creating a seasonal feed rotation model.

This would help to eliminate the costs of buying feed, cut down the man hours of trucking supplies back and forth, and help make a more sustainable and organic farming process.

“The more something is handled, like corn is grown on a giant field, they harvest it with these big tractors. Most of the time it’s GMO corn because it’s easy to grow and they can just spray roundup–which I am not sure that it’s bad for us, but I kind of think it is,” said Heather. “And it’s shipped from gosh knows where, it’s all over the place, it just seems like a humongous waste of energy.”

The main goal is to grow their own feed, letting the animals harvest it; in turn making a more efficient farming system for them. They hope to publish a book about the creation of a seasonal feed and rotation model that others can replicate on a smaller scale.

The Kickstarter hopes to cover the costs associated in making this feed model a reality: materials for fencing to create a closed farming system, electric netting for segmenting pasture, a No-till Seed Drill, and a Pull-type Harvester.

Much of this equipment would make it possible for them to grow their own crops and not have to buy feed for their animals, allowing the family farm to become completely self-reliant.

Right now they are at $4,000, with only 10 days left, they need to hit the lofty goal of $42,500.

“I am little concerned that we might not make our goal, but a lot of people have done Kickstarters and they didn’t get hardly any funding until the last three days,” said Heather. “Since we started our Kickstarter campaign, we have gotten a couple hundred likes on our Facebook page, so I’m hoping that that means people are seeing and wanting to contribute.”

By establishing their seasonal feed farming process, and getting it to work successfully, the Alfs then want to show others that they can do the same, but in a smaller scale, by writing a book about the process and what it takes to make it possible.

“We’re trying to go our own speed, and it make more accessible for people who want to farm for a living not just as a hobby. I think a lot of people like to do the hobby thing and think that they must have a gigantic farm, and I think that this kind of bridges the gap between the two,” said Heather about the goals of the Kickstarter.

“People like me and my husband who want to actually not have a job in another field–this is what we want our career to be. But it’s really difficult if you don’t have the funds to do it. Right now we’re almost there, but I think that’s the idea to have our model that other people can replicate.”

The Alfs want to make their sustainable farming a career, first perfecting this model and providing for the animals they have, and eventually expanding its products, especially produce, to the market. Right now they sell eggs to Ellwood Thompson’s, Libbie Market, and Good Foods Grocery.

Many videos of Shaun and Heather can be found on their Facebook page–about their mission, how they started, and their passion to provide affordable organic food.

In one of Shaun’s videos, “What is wrong with CHEAP food?” he talks about the poor in America–that it’s not about them being able to afford to eat, but about being able to afford healthy food. Snack foods that are filled with preservatives, salt, and sugar are in abundance and easy to obtain more so than fresh, organic produce, meat, and dairy.

Their goal may seem small but it is huge in spreading the word of sustainable, organic farming, and not using GMO products.

You can donate any amount from $1 up to $1,000 or more on their Kickstarter page.

Help in their mission to “enable small poultry and cattle producers to become more self-reliant by creating a seasonal feed rotation model,” thus helping farmers and giving people more of an abundance of sustainably produced organic foods.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner is the former editor of GayRVA and RVAMag from 2013 - 2017. He’s now the Richmond Bureau Chief for Radio IQ, a state-wide NPR outlet based in Roanoke. You can reach him at BradKutnerNPR@gmail.com




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