Berriedale Farms is nestled among the Appalachian Mountains in the Cowpasture River Valley of Virginia. A forester by training, Nelson Hoy realized that ranching was the best use of their 100 acres of mountain pasture surrounded by National Forest. Today, he and his partner Lizzie Biggs raise and preserve heritage breeds of livestock and poultry as part of their life-long commitment to conservation. They practice the best possible stewardship of forest and grass-lands, surface and groundwaters, and operate their small family farm under a progressive conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy.
Berriedale Farms produces primarily grass fed-beef from a herd of about 45 heritage breed Red Poll cattle. Through careful breeding on small family farms for over 200 years, this breed offers easy grass-fed marbling and high quality, full-flavored meat. Now recognized by the Livestock Conservancy as a threatened heritage breed, the red “muley” cattle are a cross between English Suffolk and Norfolk cattle common in colonial Virginia in the early 17th-century.
Lizzie raised the ante on Berriedale Farms’ commitment to heritage breeds of livestock when she brought two Suffolk “Punch” draft horses, Bonnie and Dolly, to the farm. Suffolks are the only living breed of draft horse exclusively bred for farm and forest work and today, there are only about 350 registered and living Suffolk draft horses in the US. At Berriedale Farms, the horses haul 700 pound bales of hay to the cattle in the colder months, skid firewood and timber from their Appalachian hardwood forests, and chain-harrow and seed their mountain pastures. In the summer, lucky guests and visitors might enjoy a wagon ride pulled by these powerful horses.
Berriedale Farms caters to health-conscious individuals, couples and families that want grass-fed beef in both in manageable quantities and at economical prices. Their beef is available in manageable quantities of either 25 pounds for couples or 100 pounds for families by calling or e-mailing Nelson and Lizzie. Though Berriedale Farms ships UPS Overnight Ground to customers in the tri-state area, many of their customers choose “to pick up their meat at the farm and see first-hand how Berriedale Farms’ heritage Red Poll cattle are raised,” observes Lizzie.
Berriedale Farms and its Cabin on the Cowpasture River is ideal for family vacations, father and son hunting trips, mother and daughter get-a-ways, and naturalist activities and birding. Cabin guests frequently experience first-hand how Berriedale Farms works to conserve Red Poll cattle and Suffolk draft horses, improve forage and soils. A walk in the farm’s forest gives guests the opportunity to experience a diverse array of wildlife and highlights the environmentally sensitive management in practices for Appalachian hardwoods that garnered for Berriedale Farms the “Chesapeake Forest Champion” award in 2012 by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.