They’ve been raising meat and produce since the 70’s so last year when Jerry Stokesberry and his wife Janelle decided to venture into the small farm business they knew the animals they wanted and organic was their way to contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
With more than ten-thousand certified organic hens and broilers and another 100 white and heritage turkeys at their Olympia farm, the couple puts in full days and often many nights working to ready the poultry for their customers.
At an early May WSU/Tilth Farm Walk over 85 people were able to see the Stokesberry’s on-site Washington State Department of Agriculture processing facility that allows a quick turnaround time from farm to market. Currently 250 chickens are processed per week and sold at Farmers Markets, restaurants and co-ops. In Seattle a finished bird is now $4.50 per pound and a dozen large eggs goes for $5.00. Rising prices for feed are passed on to the customer.
“Since last July we’ve seen a 50% increase on feed prices,” said Jerry Stokesberry. “The organic grain-based food we use comes from Canada. It would be nice to have a local supplier,” he added.
Seattle chef Seth Caswell of Stumbling Goat Bistro is proud to offer their organic chicken on his menu. He met the couple at a Farmer/Chef Connections event and was impressed with their dedication to providing a quality product.
“We share the same values,” said Caswell. “I wanted to find a local farm whose chickens were handled with care and by hand. I know that great care is given to the chickens every step of the production. In the end, the product is superior in flavor and texture to any alternatives. I can then tell my customers about this process and they are excited to ‘eat the story’,” added Caswell.
In addition to chickens the Stokesberrys have a dozen head of cattle at two nearby pastures. Their environmentally friendly farming technique has cattle grazing first and then chickens and turkeys eat what the cows leave behind. Portable chicken pens allow the poultry to be moved to specific areas for grazing. In cooler months a winter shelter houses the birds where they can move freely and use nesting boxes to lay their eggs.
As busy as the Jerry and Janelle are right now they have their sites set on the future. “I’d like to create a family destination on forty to fifty acres with u-pick berries, a pumpkin patch, more animals and Christmas Tree farm,” said Jerry. “What I envision is that when people leave they can’t wait to come back.”
By Betsy Fradd, WSU Extension