Changing Farmers’ Lives One Farm Family At A Time

By Nancy Smith, Secretary, Farm to Family

Since it’s always been the plan of Farm to Family to change the lives of our Missouri and Illinois farm families, we shouldn’t be surprised when it works, but sometimes it works so well that we are amazed!  Laban Graber, of Green Meadow Family Farms, and his family are an excellent illustration of how our support of local farmers makes a real difference.

Two years ago, I met Laban at a class I was teaching for the University of Missouri Extension Grow Your Farm program. I was struck immediately by his knowledge and his willingness to work really hard at marketing his farm products. At that time, free range eggs were his only farm product and he was only selling a few dozen a week. A steady supply of free range eggs grown under really optimal conditions sounded like a great idea to me, so I immediately made a commitment to buy some eggs and try them. Laban, in turn, agreed to come to Sappington Farmers Market with his chickens so people could meet the farmer and the hens. That first delivery was 45 dozen eggs and we struggled a little to educate consumers about the benefits of free-range versus conventional. The best selling point was the deep orange yolks that stood up and glowed in a little dish.

By the second week, our order for Green Meadow Family Farms had increased to 90 dozen, and I had traveled to Laban’s farm to see for myself how well he and his family care for their chickens. I was delighted to see the old school buses with nesting boxes that Laban was moving around from pasture to pasture so his hens could eat grass and have convenient facilities for egg-laying. Having the opportunity to watch Laban’s children care for chickens and candle and clean the eggs made the trip worthwhile. Laban is a gentle task master who makes sure that the work is appropriate to the children’s age, which makes the jobs more fun than work as the children enjoy making important contributions to the farm income. Laban is happy to report that the family’s lifestyle has greatly improved since that first delivery of eggs. But he’s not “resting on his laurels”. He and his family constantly work to improve their farm operation.

Over these two years, the egg sales have increased to 250 dozen every ten days, as more and more of our customers discover the great taste and freshness of Laban’s eggs. And, starting in January of 2012, all Green Meadows Family Farms chickens will eat only 100% GMO-free feed along with their fresh pasture grass. That important step makes those eggs just about perfect!

See the Sappington Farmers Market ad in this issue for a coupon for Green Meadows Farms eggs. Sappington Farmers Market is located at 8400 Watson Road, between Elm Ave. and Laclede Station Road. Visit our booth at the Healthy Planet Expo.