In July 2017, husband & wife team, Sherman Thomas and Theresa Pollard set out around the country to document and help spread the word about how sustainable farming is helping to better our communities, our land and our health. The Lost Art of Farming, a photojournalism project, tells the stories of the farmers who are using organic and traditional farming methods to help change the way America eats.
This is the second post in the series from Sherman and Theresa, as they share the stories of inspiring farmers they meet along their way. These empowerful stories of individuals helping to improve their communities through sustainable food practices.
Farmer Julie James Ott was born into a ranching family in rustic Durango CO. Her father, Dave James, founded James Ranch after he and his wife decided to leave the big city behind and build a life in closer communion with the land and nature. In the early days of James Ranch, Dave raised cattle by conventional standards, grazing them on the Colorado hillsides and then selling them to market to be finished and slaughtered elsewhere. Julie helped change all that.
Dave credits his daughter Julie as the motivating force behind their change to holistic management, a system in which ranchers carefully orchestrate the herd's grazing schedule to mimic natural rhythms of herbivores in nature. Holistic management is at the center of regenerative agriculture: nutrient-rich manure creates new topsoil and moving the animals on a tight schedule causes maximum grass growth, which translates to carbon sequestration.
Julie has since stepped away from cattle management and now runs her own laying hen operation and manages the James Ranch Market. She raises her hens outdoors, on pasture, where they are free to forage for bugs and wild vegetation. She also supplements their diet with soy-free organic feed, which commands a higher price than gmo-based alternatives. Since chickens are omnivores, they need adequate amounts of protein to be healthy, some of which they can get from insects they forage and the rest of which they get from their feed. In order to keep her egg business economically viable and her hens healthy, Julie sources scraps for her chickens from local restaurants. Food that would normally go to waste is repurposed in the form of happy chickens and delicious eggs.
Follow Sherman and Theresa on IG @TheLostArtofFarming