What does eating local really mean? It means getting to know the PEOPLE who are working hard to provide your meats, produce, and value-added products. It means scheduling a visit to a farm to gain even more understanding about your dinner. It means knowing that your food does not just come from a farm, but from people. People who are not just farmers but fathers, daughters, moms, and sons working as a family in a community of friends.
Faces of Farmers is a project of The Highland Center created to help unite customers with producers in a whole new way. By telling our farmer’s stories, it aims to help market farms in the Allegheny Highlands region of Virginia and West Virginia and help customers learn more about their food.
Farm of the Month: Riven Rock Farm
Though Chuck and Lou Ann Neely produce 100% grass-fed and -finished heritage breed cattle, sheep, and pigs, they see themselves as primarily grass farmers. They purchased a 180 acre farm in Halterman Hollow, just north of the town of Monterey with the dream of creating a sustainable operation promoting biodiversity and organically managing the balance of the meadows and hardwood forests on their land. The Neelys use their registered Belted Galloway bull to produce Belted Galloways as well as the solid Galloway cows. “Our Galloways are raised in a natural, humane, low-stress environment and are completely hormone, antibiotic and grain- free,” says Chuck. Recently, the Neely’s began a flock of Katahdin sheep, a heritage breed known for its hardiness and mild and sweet meat. In addition, their heritage Tamworth and Old Spot pigs are raised on pasture and woodlots and have a diet free of GMOs and soy. The resulting marbled pork, says Chuck, “is like nothing you’d find at a supermarket.” Riven Rock beef, lamb, and pork can be found at the Highland Farmers’ Market and the Alleghany Meats’ Market as well as by contacting the Neely’s directly.
Learn more about their farm here!