Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Derrick and Paige Jackson of Grass Grazed Farm are two of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!
After spending 13 years in the Army, Derrick Jackson took himself and his family on a whole new adventure into the farming industry. “Coming out of the Army I was looking for a new career and I knew I wanted a job that would allow me to spend time with my wife and kids,” Derrick said, “but being trained in special ops, I also needed something that was going to challenge me daily, thus I landed on farming.”
Although neither Derrick nor his wife Paige grew up in the farming industry, they have always been conscientious of where their food comes from and supported local farmers. “We have always wanted to be wise consumers of what we are eating and feeding our children,” he said, “so when the local guy we bought meat from stopped producing, the next logical step was to do it ourselves.” Paige, however, had no idea how passionate Derrick was about farming. “One day I get a text that Derrick has just bought 25 chickens that would be delivered in two weeks,” she said, “we jumped in feet first and fell absolutely in love with farming.”
In 2019, the Jackson’s started Grass Grazed Farm with only 25 chickens and have since grown to also raise cows and pigs. “We currently offer pasture-raised chicken, heritage pork and 100% grass-fed beef,” Paige said. A typical day on the farm starts at 5:30 in the morning by feeding and moving the chickens. “We try to do all the moving of animals before the sun comes up,” Derrick said, “then we get all the intensive labor, such as fencing repairs and pasture work, out of the way so it’s not being done in the heat of the day.” After the morning chores, Derrick and Paige sit down to a nice breakfast with their five children before responding to orders and managing press. Finally, the day ends by feeding all the animals and moving the pigs. “Typically, we move chickens in the morning and pigs at night,” Derrick said, “it’s not a 9-to-5 job and we definitely don’t get bored.”
Animal welfare is top priority for the Jackson’s not only because they are animal lovers themselves but because they take on the responsibility of shepherding their animals and giving them the best life possible. “Animal welfare represents life,” Derrick said, “and anytime we loose an animal we re-evaluate every single part of our process because failing them is unacceptable.”
Although each day presents a new challenge and learning experience, Paige and Derrick say there is no greater joy than providing a product for their family and customers. “I am very thankful to know that I provide a superior product not only to my customers but for my family as well,” Derrick said.
Products from Grass Grazed Farm can be found on-site at their location in Northern Durham or on the weekends at the Holly Springs Farmers Market, Moore County Farmers Market and The Black Market NC in Raleigh. They are also looking to expand sales by establishing an ecommerce website, not only for their products but for other local farmers in the area as well. “Once this site is developed and launched, it will deliver local products straight to your door within two days,” Derrick said, “basically it will act like Amazon for products from local farms.”
Paige and Derrick are incredibly passionate about eating local because it is nutritious and supports the economy. “If you want to make an impact, support your local farmers,” Paige said, “not only is it better because you can trace exactly where it came from, but it also feeds and supports our neighbors.”
In the future, Paige and Derrick hope to expand Grass Grazed Farm by responding and growing with changes in the agriculture industry and our culture through items like the collaborative ecommerce website and working with local chefs. When they are not farming, their perfect nights are spent with their five children either watching a movie or hosting family game night.