Farmer Heroes | August 5, 2004

Cynthia & Joel Huesby: Building Washington’s Family Farm Food System

Walla Walla, Wash.

Cynthia and Joel Huesby have worked hard over the past 10 years to meet the growing demand for great-tasting and healthful beef products, perfecting their production of pasture-finished meats free of growth-boosting hormones. Their commitment to producing safe food has led them to take steps to make their Walla Walla Valley ranch, suitably dubbed Thundering Hooves, an organically farmed operation. Already their ranch exceeds many organic label requirements pertaining to environmental health issues such as soil treatment.

Their livestock is rotationally grazed on open pasture (where the animals act as natural harvesters) to prevent overgrazing. Thundering Hooves attributes its success to family participation, as Cynthia and Joel work alongside their children as well as Joel’s brother, Bryan and Jenny, and parents Gordon and Lois Huesby, as well as his sister, Clarice and Keith Swanson. Cynthia and Joel’s four children help gather, process, and sell meat products for the farmers markets in the area. Additionally, the Huesbys are the only people in the world with the Wishard strain of the American Standard Bronze Turkey, an extremely rare wild-type bird that propagates “heritage genetics.”

With the support of Washington State Department of Agriculture’s From the Heart of Washington campaign, family farms such as the Huesbys get the support they need to continue the successful transformation of American agriculture in which family farms provide wholesome and healthy food; all while being responsible stewards of the land. Conserving farmland and heritage breeds, as well as providing consumers with the best product is how the Huesbys play leading role in building Washington’s family farm-centered food systems.

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