Stewardship by definition means to serve. We serve the needs of our farm by growing native grasses for wildlife, proper pasture management, eliminating run off by allowing drainage ditches to grow in order to slow down water and filter it naturally, year round food plots for wildlife, wildlife management practices, nesting boxes and den trees, tree planting, and so much more. There is no over night answer to farm stewardship. It is a lifetime commitment to pass along to someone else. We do something all the time. We mange our five ponds for our fish we catch and eat but also as clean water source for all living things. We have done controlled burns to bring new and tender food sources for wildlife. We have done select cuts of our forests in order to maintain a healthy woodland. We have planted over 1000 trees in our swamp area after a dam had burst. This will rejuvenate a living place for the next 200 years instead of an area of continuous decline for its inhabitants. There’s always a way to make land better.
Our hard work and investment has paid off tremendously. We have wildlife year round including ducks, geese, quail, turkey, deer, countless migrating birds, and much more. We take the charge very seriously God gave us to have dominion over and provide for all creation. We have had thousands of kids visit our farm over the years experiencing all the above. They always see our place as something they only thought existed in a dream. We all have worked so hard to make those dreams a reality. We are lifetime members of Ducks Unlimited, Wild Turkey Federation, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. We believe in leaving something left for all critters including food, water, and land.
We are very big proponents of green energy and its future importance. Our short and long term goals at the farm include green energy. We currently run all of our trucks and tractors on bio-diesel produced from kitchen grease and soy beans. We use all of our animal and hay waste as compost and fertilizer. Our next goals include having a well pump and water source from solar energy, reducing and eliminating all commercial fertilizer applications, and learning more organic produce methods. Our entire barn is a solar farm that sells green power back to the grid. The sustainable lifestyle is a commitment that carries over to all facets of ones life. For us that lifestyle is one that encompasses every part of our lives.
ARTICLE FROM WRAL:
Louisburg, N.C. — A Franklin County farming family wants to get back to sustainable, localized and profitable ways of growing food, and their efforts are being held up as a model by the federal government.
Chad Ray, a tenth-generation farmer at Ray Family Farms in Louisburg, says he aims for the “triple bottom-line.”
“We all have to make money. We all have to have profit, but we also throw in the people and the planet into the mix. All three have got to work,” he said.
Ray lets nature do as much work as possible from his free-range chickens and turkeys to his grass-fed beef cattle.
“We’re just trying to take the land that was given us and raise the best animals that we can that will give us back the best food we can,” he said.
Atop Ray’s red barn is his latest effort at sustainability: 42 solar panels, made possible by an $11,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, $20,000 grant from the Farm Bureau and about $14,000 of his own money.
The solar panels generate enough energy to power a third of the farm’s operations, saving about $150 a month. The energy is sent directly into the common electric grid.
“Technically, we’re not using it. You may be using it. Our neighbor may be using it. A building downtown may be using it,” Ray said. “We don’t know where the energy’s going. It’s just going to the grid.”
A USDA agent will visit the Ray Family Farm Tuesday to see how Ray’s solar project is working. The agency will also host a roundtable at North Carolina State University to discuss how the federal government can help small farmers and create jobs.
Ray said the solar panels will make only a small dent in feeding America’s appetite for electricity, but the project is a huge step froward in his dream of a more energy-efficient, self-sustaining and natural world.
“The sun grows our chickens,” he said. “The sun grows our grass that we cut for hay that feeds our crops. The sun grows our vegetables that feed ourselves and other people.”
Reporter: Stacy Davis
Photographer: Greg Hutchinson
Web Editor: Anne Johnson
See the WRAL article