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Family Farm Takes Holistic Approach To Raising Natural Food

The Simpsons believe what distinguishes them from other farms is their practice of feeding only organically-raised grain to their animals.

  • Simpson II

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    Photo: Dan Goldblatt/WFIU News

    Piglets suckle for organic nourishment. The Simpson's only feed their animals organically grown grains, and constantly rotate their livestock to ensure fresh pasture is available.

  • Simpson

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    Photo: Dan Goldblatt/WFIU News

    An organic turkey roams the yard. The Simpsons rotate their poultry daily, to ensure the birds have a fresh supply of grubs to peck at.

  • Simpson IV

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    Photo: Dan Goldblatt/WFIU News

    Chickens roam their portable pins, fertilizing the ground as they go.

Industrial agriculture has become one of the most popular ways to farm today, even when done on a family scale. High stocking density, economies of scale, and modern machinery are just some of the current components that many farmers consider vital to their agricultural achievement. But one Morgan County family is challenging these modern views by not using heavy machinery and feeding their animals organically raised grain.

A Hobby Becomes A Lifestyle

Living in a 19th century home near Martinsville, the Simpsons are the 7th generation in their family to live on and farm the 300 acres originally obtained in 1828. Though the husband and wife team behind the Simpson operation never planned to farm, Darby and Brandy found that livestock was easy to sell so they took advantage of the opportunity.

“Actually my first love was gardening,” he says, “so the first year in 2007 we did some vegetables and also decided to raise some chickens. We just found the livestock to be a lot easier to sell because there wasn’t really a lot of access for that kind of product.”

A Niche Market

The Simpsons focus on chickens, pigs, cattle, laying hens, and turkey they naturally raise. Holding a very holistic view, this family believes what distinguishes them from other organic farms is their practice of feeding only organically-raised grain to their animals. Because it’s free of chemicals, pesticides, and insecticides, it is not genetically modified.

Darby says naturally-raised meat has many benefits.

“People really start to enjoy food again,” he says. “They enjoy cooking, it actually has flavor. It doesn’t make you sick and actually heals your body.”

All Natural Meats

With the production of such wholesome products also comes techniques that aren’t usually used by farmers. Because the Simpsons don’t use any type of machinery, they use their animals, particularly beef-feed cattle, as lawn mowers. Darby says rotating livestock through the pastures allows for better soil and increased grass growth.

“We’re building soil,” he says, “trying to get that micro-life just teeming in the soil so we’re getting good organic matter so that we can grow more grass, basically. This pasture has been used four or five different times between April and October.”

Never A Dull Moment

The Simpsons are happy with what their farm has become and admit they’ve had to learn a lot along the way. Brandy says the greatest challenge is preparing yourself to be ready for anything.

“You always have to expect the unexpected,” she says. “You can have a set to-do list for your day but you can always plan on something going wrong. Fence being down or pigs trying to get out of their fence, something always goes on.”

Family First

For this family, with each challenge comes a learning opportunity. In addition to running their organic farm, Darby and Brandy are raising two young boys who may be led to work on the farm some day as well.

They all take pride in their natural approach, saying they work daily to nourish the mind, soul, and body on Simpson Farms.

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