A little history…
Fourth generation farmer Jamie and his wife Amy began managing Hickory Nut Gap Farm in 2000 with a focus on pasture raised meats. Jamie’s family worked the land since 1916, farming a variety of endeavors such as dairy, beef, pork, vegetables and apples. With the growth of the Farm to Table movement, demand for pasture raised meats grew in the local market. During Jamie’s continued Ag Leadership education at NC State, he met Sam Dobson.
The two determined that there was a need for farmers to work together to supply Asheville and surrounding areas with 100% grassfed beef, free of antibiotics and added hormones. This was the first step in creating a farming model that could truly shift the paradigm of agriculture and bring humane production of animals back to the United States on a scale that allows for proper pasture management and regional production. HNG has grown to work with nearly 20 family farms, primarily in North Carolina, and a few in surrounding states. See below to read more about Sam Dobson, our featured farmer, and learn more about where your meat comes from.
Featured Farmer: Sam Dobson
From Statesville, NC, Sam’s been farming with us for 10 years now.
When did you start farming, and why?
The honest answer would be that I’ve been on the payroll since I was 7 years old. But really, right after college. It’s all I’ve ever really done, and it’s a life I didn’t want to leave. My family has been farming on the same land since 1790, and I didn’t want it to end because I was lazy. I just enjoy being outside, and grazing is my passion.
When did you start working for HNGF, and what was your motivation?
In 2006 Jamie and Amy were just getting started. They were involved in the farmer’s markets and Jamie and I were in the Ag Leadership Program together. At the time, I had a lot of extra feed and extra hay, and it felt kind of like a dead end… So, we got to talking. He needed the volume and I needed to diversify the dairy farm. So, I got into the beef business. I’ve used the philosophies from the dairy industry and applied to the beef industry, and it has worked out really well.
What do you like to do when you are not on the farm?
Spending time with my wife, Sherry and my 9-year-old son, Chase. I enjoy watching him play baseball. Trout fishing and travelling are also some of my favorite things to do when I’m not on the farm. Although, I haven’t been in a couple years…
What is your favorite farm memory?
Any time I turn a group of cows out on fresh grass. When the sun is rising, or setting, the colors of the sky and beauty of everything either waking up or going to sleep… That is a favorite memory I get to re-visit time and time again.
What is your favorite time of the day on the farm and why?
Early morning or sunset. In the evenings, I’ll leave my phone in the truck and just watch the cattle graze. The best is when Chase will come out with me to graze. It gives us a chance to spend time together without any distractions. I also enjoy being alone in the pasture. I get to really enjoy the peace and quiet of nature, and I use that time for personal reflection.
Who or what was your inspiration to raise animals on a pasture based system?
My Grandfather. We were grazing cows 100 years ago, growing up, we didn’t start rotational grazing until spring. That was my job. I always saw how much the cattle enjoyed it, and I knew it was a good thing. Cattle were meant to graze. I learned countless life lessons from my Grandfather. I often catch myself being the same way and I’m just fine with that.
Grassfed Beef Family Farmers:
Dobson Farm, Statesville, NC
Gibson Farms, Olin, NC
J. Harkey, Cleveland, NC
Triple H Ranch: Taylorsville, NC
CA Farms: Lansing, NC
D. Boyer: Fries, VA
Hardrock Beef: Granite Falls, NC
Hyatt Farms: Brasstown, NC
L. Hash: Piney Creek, NC
Alan Souther: Piney Creek, NC
Foothills Angus: Union Grove, NC
D. Grant: Stateville, NC
L. Johnson: Mt. Airy, NC
R. Detweiler: Hamptonville, NC
J. Hostettler: Hamptonville, NC
B. Buzardt: Saluda, SC
Grazing & Herd Partners:
Clemson University: Blackville, SC
Biltmore Estate: Asheville, NC
Pastured Pork Family Farmers:
Adam Grady Farm: Kenansville, NC
Lee Farm: Four Oaks, NC
AJ Family Farm: Garland, NC
Matthew Hight Farm: Warrantor, NC
A. House: Clinton, NC
W. Starling: Autryville, NC
Hickory Nut Gap Meats is a family owned business based in North Carolina. Jamie and Amy Ager are the fourth generation to farm at Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, NC. They have been selling local, pasture raised meats into local markets since they came back to the family farm in 2000. Over the years the demand for local food led the creation of a network of like minded farms to increase access to local, pasture raised meats for chefs in the Carolinas. The HNG producer protocol ensures that all hogs raised for Hickory Nut Gap are pasture raised, antibiotic free, given no added hormones, and vegetarian fed; all cattle are 100% grassfed, never given, grain or antibiotics or added hormones, and are raised on Pasture.