For several generations, agriculture has been a major part of life for our family.
Originally from southern Indiana, my dad, Gary and my grandparents, Jim and Anna, moved to Chester County, S.C., in 1979. While in Indiana, they grew corn and other crops and raised beef cattle and hogs. The family also ran a meat shop where they sold their own beef.
Once in South Carolina, my dad and grandad continued to grow corn, but on a larger scale, while maintaining several herds of cattle as well. At a point in the mid-1980s, under the name Watson Grain, Inc., our family had accumulated about 1,200 acres of cropland until drought and other crises forced a downsize. After row-cropping proved too unstable, my dad began raising turkeys in 1996.
In April 2007, after experiencing first-hand for many years the conventional production methods, we began the transition from a conventional farm to a sustainable one. Not only was this transition begun because it is best for the land and animals but also because it is best for the farmer and the consumer. Specifically this transition has allowed my family and me to remain on the farm instead of being forced to seek outside income. My wife, Kelly, was able to start working for the farm in 2012. Our daughter, Abby, was born in 2013 and our son, Noah, in 2016.
In 2020, our family terminated the contract with the turkey integrator, and all of our animals are now raised on pasture. This was a long-awaited event in our transition plans and the future, although uncertain at times, is bright because of customers like you who see the importance of supporting local, pasture-based farmers.
Transitions like these can be slow, but it is worth the wait. Ponds and fences have to be built. Water lines have to be buried for cattle drinking water. Loans have to be paid off. These things take time, but there are many things we have been able to implement in shorter time periods. We now rotate our cows roughly every couple days instead of continuously grazing. We grass-finish and direct-market all of our cattle instead of marketing some through conventional channels. We also direct-market eggs from about 2700 laying hens, meat from about 5000 chickens, and pork from about 70 hogs per year. Each time you buy Watson Farms Pastured Meats you have the opportunity to help us further our transition to a more sustainable farm and keep another generation on the family farm.
If you are already a customer, we want to say thank you for being partners in this endeavor of local, pasture-raised proteins that has truly transformed our farm. We look forward to continuing this transition while serving you long into the future.
If you’re not yet a customer, we invite you to allow us to serve you with local, pasture-raised proteins that you can feel confident in feeding your family with.
Matt Watson and the Watson Farms Team