Karl Hudson and Mann Mullen own and operate Rare Earth Farms, LLC., a Certified Grassfed by AGW beef cattle and Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) pig operation located just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. While Mann has farmed all of his life, Karl returned to his farming heritage after a career in retail management when the two saw an opportunity to combine their farming and marketing experience to sell high-welfare, sustainable products to meet growing consumer demand across NC.
Karl and Mann manage a herd of 100 Angus cross cattle outdoors on pasture, feeding an entirely grass and forage diet. The herd is rotationally managed, grazing one section of pasture before being moved to fresh fields. This type of management provides quality forage by allowing grasses to recover before the cattle return to graze again. It also keeps the soil properly fertilized and minimizes the build-up of internal parasites, thereby avoiding reliance on chemical treatments. Rare Earth Farms’ grassfed cattle are managed without the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics, added hormones or animal by-products, and Karl and Mann integrate low-stress handling techniques into their pasture-based management practices. Karl says he has some of the friendliest cows around: “We take people out to see the cows, and they just come right up to you,” he explains.
Karl and Mann also manage a herd of AWA Ossabaw Island pigs outdoors on pasture or range. The Ossabaw is a rare breed that was originally brought to the New World by Spanish or Portuguese explorers. Some pigs escaped and lived feral for many centuries on Ossabaw Island, just off the coast of Georgia near Savannah. As the pigs lived as an isolated island population, the breed has been uniquely shaped by natural selection in a challenging environment known for heat, humidity, and seasonal scarcity of food, and is particularly well suited for sustainable or pastured pork production in the South. The Ossabaw Island pigs at Rare Earth Farms are free to root and forage as pigs naturally do. Not only does this high-welfare management is a fundamental component of AWA certification, but it is also known to have environmental, nutritional and culinary benefits that keep Rare Earth Farms’ customers coming back!
Karl and Mann originally chose to pursue AWA certification back in 2008 because, as Karl says, “It seemed like a natural fit.” Animal welfare and environmental stewardship were already central to their farming practices, and although Karl and Mann found they were already managing their animals in ways that aligned closely with AWA’s farm standards, they both recognized that a third-party certification would help to verify their high-welfare, pasture-based farm management practices to customers. “AWA certification has added credibility to what we’re doing, because consumers trust the label. We are really happy to be associated with the AWA program,” adds Karl.
In 2015, Karl and Mann gained Certified Grassfed by AGW status for the herd of beef cattle at Rare Earth Farms. 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. “Being Certified Grassfed by AGW gives us the credibility that our customers demand,” says Karl. “AGW’s grassfed certification provides a level of consumer trust that we could not achieve through other programs.”
Since Karl and Mann began farming together at Rare Earth Farms, Karl has been pleased with the growing consumer awareness of high-welfare and sustainable products. “Over the past few years we have been really happy with the customer response. People are definitely giving more thought to what they put into their body,” says Karl.
Certified Grassfed by AGW beef is available directly at the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh, smaller seasonal markets, select restaurants, by CSA membership and from their food truck in the Triangle area of NC. Check the AWA directory for details. For more information about Rare Earth Farms, visit www.rareearthfarms.com or the farm’s Facebook page. Contact Karl at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-349-6080.