Millstone Farm in Wilton is the first farming business in Connecticut to earn the Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) Certified Grassfed accreditation. This is the only certification and logo in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range for their entire lives, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards on an independent family farm. While other grassfed labels exist, none has fully met consumer expectations when it comes to a grassfed and forage diet, environmental management, and farm animal welfare–until now.
Farm owner Betsy Fink and farm manager Johnny Cameron and their team raise Certified AWA laying hens, pigs, and sheep on the 75-acre property. “The farm has always operated in accordance with the principles of high-welfare and sustainable management, but to be acknowledged by AWA is rewarding for us and will give our customers every confidence in the quality and sustainability our product” says Cameron.
At Millstone Farm, sheep rotationally graze 40 acres of pasture, grazing on one section of pasture before moving to fresh fields. This type of management allows grass to recover before the sheep return to graze again and minimizes the build-up of internal parasites, avoiding reliance on chemical treatments. The herd of Large Black, Tamworth and Berkshire pigs forage and roam in 35 acres of woodland, while the flock of 200 laying hens also range outdoors on pasture.
Millstone Farm pursued AWA certification for their pigs and chickens–and Certified Grassfed by AWA for their sheep–as a formal recognition of the farm’s dedication to using sustainable, environmentally sound and humane agricultural techniques. “As a farm that has put community and sustainability first, we thought it was important to be a model and present an educational moment for our community” says Fink.
While demand for grassfed beef has increased by 25-30 percent every year over the last decade, not all grassfed certifications are meeting consumer expectations–and some continue to permit highly questionable practices. Under the USDA Grassfed label, for example, farmers can confine cattle on dirt feedlots for long periods outside the growing season, or use growth hormones and subtherapeutic antibiotics, and still market the beef as grassfed–just as long as they feed the animals cut grass or forage.
AWA’s new Certified Grassfed label is the only grassfed program in North America to guarantee:
- Ruminant animals raised outdoors on pasture for their entire lives, with an entirely grass and forage diet
- Animals raised according to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards in the U.S. and Canada
- High-welfare handling, transport, and slaughter of animals–including an annual review of slaughter facilities
For more information about Millstone Farm, or to purchase Millstone Farm Certified AWA eggs, pork, or Certified Grassfed by AWA lamb, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Millstone Farm
Since 2006 Millstone Farm has been building its farming operations, but also, just as importantly, it’s been fostering a sustainable regional food system and cultivating community. In the early days, with unformed markets for local produce like heirloom tomatoes, Betsy Fink and farmer Annie Farrell assembled the networks of local chefs and regional farmers to create the relationships and systems needed. Now, 10 years later farmers and chefs have vibrant and ongoing relationships. At the same time, Millstone Farm acted as a hub for workshops to teach Raising Backyard Chickens, Composting, and Seed Saving for many years, even partnering with CT NOFA and others on Pasture Management and New Farmer Training. Numerous workshop providers have sprouted up in the area, able to take the reign and multiply community education in these important areas. Millstone Farm has always been a venue of exploration and testing ideas; growing small batches of ancient grains, planting milkweed to enhance biodiversity for Monarch habitat, all while providing quality produce and livestock for regional chefs and the local community.