Starting a ranch–from the ground up
Rachael and James Stewart were both personal trainers in Phoenix, Arizona, eating a high-protein diet. When the pandemic hit, they decided to make some big changes. Stu (James) sold a classic car and they bought some land in southeastern Arizona, where they are in the first phase of starting a ranch for goats, sheep, and heritage poultry–Southwest Black Ranchers. This is the only Black owned and operated protein ranch in Arizona.
Stu is African American, Rachael is Filipina-Mexican, and their children are loving their life outdoors and with the animals. Check out their Go Fund Me to see how you can support their endeavor.
1’24 from personal trainers to regenerative farmer/ranchers
3’55 bought land by selling a classic car
4’16 how to optimally cultivate ten acres of land in Arizona
4’38 raising goats, sheep, pheasants, heritage turkeys, ducks–things not available in grocery stores
5’32 plan to deliver all over Arizona
6’22 “goat shortage” and the demand for goat meat
6’45 refugee populations and their culinary habits–they’re driving long distances to buy goat meat
7’41 starting up without a large capital investment–using the model of developing country farmers
10’21 building a sunken greenhouse with hyper adobe bricks
12’12 using GoFundMe
12’47 regenerating soil with ducks
13’41 growing fruit trees
14’15 using hydroponics and aquaponics
15’22 thinking about Black generational trauma and going back to the land
17’40 getting their kids into farming
18’08 black and brown representation in farming
19’36 “sometimes progression is actually regression”
20’36 how the children have taken to the farm life
22’01 giving children options
22’58 challenges of transition from urban to rural
23’46 great for kids to be outdoors all the time
24’46 too many electronics in cities
26’35 cultivating positive energy and a safe space for visitors
27’04 learning how to work with animals
28’57 going back to a lower tech mindset
30’08 finding balance in all things
31’23 not a “bottom line ranch” but rather natural foods and a balanced life
31’57 3-d printed steak and other crazy things
33’09 looking at shorter and medium term goals
34’28 starting out seasonal, going to full time
37’06 letting go of other people’s expectations
Photos curtesy of Southwest Black Ranchers
Jesse Smith‘s work aims for the opposite of planned obsolescence—the goals at Jalama Canyon Ranch are resilience and perennial productivity, through restoration of ecosystems and a truly regenerative vision of agriculture.
Getting certified for grassfed meat can be challenging–but the American Grassfed Association supports producers in regenerative practices that are good for the earth, the farmer, and the eater.
Nicolette Hahn Niman was an environmental lawyer and vegetarian when she married a rancher—so she has a unique and broad-based perspective on agriculture. We discuss the new edition of her book, Defending Beef: The Ecological and Nutritional Case for Meat.