Modern Farmer: Could you tell us a little about the farm?
Lauren Stigall: The current owner bought the farm in 1998. He bought it as a personal pleasure and then ended up getting very passionate about where his food came from. They were previously using the farm to produce hay and then they got onto this track of wanting to restore the land, using cattle grazing. This was about four years ago. Two years ago we opened our on-farm market, where we sold our fist packages of beef. From there, we started selling to local restaurants. We now have seven different enterprises on the farm. Our top two are beef and eggs. All our beef is grass-fed and finished 100 percent. Our chickens our pasture-raised; we currently have 1,200 birds on the farm.
MF: When did the farm join Instagram?
LS: I created an Instagram account this past December, just as a user myself. I soon noticed that I was really enjoying learning about other farms and just doing other research. When I created an Instagram for Summerfield, it was a great way to share the gorgeous different shots we have on the farm. It was a good way to connect with them and then over time it has definitely become a great marketing avenue for us. We can advertise what we have going on, but it is more about connecting with the people in the community and also being able to look at what other farms have going on.
MF: You guys do weddings on the farm. What do you think the draw is?
LS: We had our first wedding in May of 2013, right when we renovated our main barn. We also have a brand-new venue on site called the pole barn; we had our first wedding there this summer. It is definitely the rustic feel. In our part of the nation, this has definitely become the trend. People are really drawn to the rustic homegrown feel of a farm venue, and we are able to provide that.
MF: Does it ever interfere with the daily operations of the farm?
LS: Definitely. We mob graze, which means we are constantly moving our steers to new pasture, so that really needs to coincide with the events. We need to make sure pastures our bush-hogged, and the grass is cut low, for them to be able to have their weddings on the pasture. It is a lot of coordination involved in planning a wedding and doing a full-time cattle operation.
MF: If it is such a headache, then what is the draw for you guys to host these events?
LS: We would never give up raising cattle just to have weddings on the farm. Our owner and cattle ranger are so passionate about being able to provide beef to our consumers. That is important. It is worth the headache to be able to raise steers and restore the land.
MF: Are you looking forward to sharing anything in particular this week with our followers?
LS: I am really just looking forward to sharing all we have to offer. We have a lot going on: the chickens, steers, there is just a lot to show here. I am excited to share the beautiful landscape and maybe educate some of the Instagram users on grass-fed beef, which is a unique product. We have weddings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend; hopefully I will be able to throw in a picture of our signature mobile cocktail hour. It is a pretty big hit.
(This interview has been edited and condensed.)
(All images courtesy Summerfield Farms.)