Gilcrest Natural Farm - GCNF

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Gil and Amy Foster were growing increasingly disturbed by the unnatural products they found in the grocery store and decided to do something about it. Their answer: start Gilcrest Natural Farm, in Iron Station. Their distaste for commercially grown food gave them their dedication to raising livestock and plants without synthetic pesticides, growth stimulants, hormones or antibiotics.

 

Gil grew up in nearby Spartanburg. Though originally from Minnesota, Amy has lived in the area for almost 20 years and feels at home in the rolling hills of the region, and appreciates the common sense of the people here.

 

The 45 acre farm is an easy place to be and a good place to raise their two boys, ages seven and ten.

 

Originally in the early 1900's, the farm produced cotton but Gil and Amy bought it six years ago, after woods and wildlife had reclaimed the land. Birds chirp around the pastures and they often converse with the animals while they work.

 

Gilcrest specializes in pasture-raised Black Angus beef, Cornish Cross and heritage-bred chicken and heirloom vegetables.They have had chickens from the beginning of the farm seven years ago, but the cattle are a more recent addition in 2008.

 

Gilcrest cattle eat 90-95% grasses from pasture and hay, as well as an average of 2-3 lbs of grain per animal each day. They feed the cattle grain for three reasons: 1) it gives them time to check each animal’s health each day as they are eating, 2) it takes some pressure off the pasture by supplementing their caloric needs, and 3) some people detect a “gamey flavor” in strictly grass-fed meat and this amount of grain negates that taste.

 

The pasture grasses include fescue, orchard, Bermuda, red and white clover and the inevitable weeds. As part of the ongoing process of improving their pastures, this spring they will be establishing native grasses - Eastern gamagrass, switchgrass, big bluestem and indiangrass. By giving the cattle a ‘salad bowl’ of choices they are able to balance their diet and produce flavorful meat. Gil and Amy grow great food in nature's backyard.

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