Madison County’s ‘Food Raised Right’ a family business
By Gary Brock
LONDON — When Matt and Kristin Furbee were looking for a new name for their growing farm business, the answer just came naturally.
Food Raised Right.
“We are feeding the animals and taking care of the animals with respect,” Matt Furbee said.
“We are feeding them the way we would like to eat,” Kristin Furbee added.
“There are no hormones, antibiotics and no animal byproducts in our beef. We provide a fully vegetarian diet for our beef,” he said. “We do this as a benefit when we sell as freezer beef. We get a premium when we sell to the stockyards.”
The Furbees farm about 365 acres in Madison County, not far from London. They have lived there since 1997, raising a family of two girls and two boys — Luke, 13, Nick, 10, Laura, 8, and Samantha, 3. Formerly called Natural Osage Angus Beef, the Furbees say their farm is, “Where the food is naturally better. We are a small family owned and operated farm in Central Ohio that humanely raises our animals. We feed our animals a vegetarian diet and never use any hormones or antibiotics. We are currently offering beef, chicken, lamb and local raw honey for the 2017 season.
“Honey is always in stock, as long as the bees are still buzzing. Our other products must be ordered. Raising them right takes time.”
The Furbees use ODA-approved local meat processors.
Matt said they are not implying by their name “that other farmers are raising food wrong, we are just raising it the way we would like to see our food raised. Others raise it as a commodity. We raise it as a food.”
“We just do things different than traditional farmers,” she added. Before moving to Madison County, they lived in Warren County, where they raised freezer beef on a much smaller scale with five to six head. Now most of their herd was born in Madison County, and they had 55 Angus cows and 33 calves this spring. They also have two bulls, an Angus and Hereford. In addition to the livestock, the Furbees grow a corn and soybean rotation, then wheat or rye.
“We raise corn in year one, then graze the stalks in the fall as well as put in a cover crop of rye. Year two we grow soybeans and follow that with either rye or wheat that fall. In year three, we will frost seed clovers into the wheat or rye.
“Once the wheat/rye is harvested, we drill a seven-species mix into the stubble and clover of hairy vetch, sun hemp, pearl millet, sunflower, turnips, radishes and cowpeas that we graze our cow/calf pairs in late fall. The following year we go back to corn,” Furbee said.
“About 50 percent of the corn we grow here goes to feed, the other half is sold traditionally. The soybeans are all marketed off the farm,” he said.
A new direction
While not certified organic, the Furbee family will be setting a new direction this year by growing all non-GMO soybeans and corn.
“It’s not that I think GMOs are dangerous or anything like that, but my concern is, first I can tell my customers that our livestock is fed non-GMO corn. Second of all, I see little benefit in growing Roundup beans or corn any more. We had so much ragweed and marestail that are resistant. It’s not worth the fees,” Furbee said.
As a farm business, Matt and Kristin said they knew that if they wanted to keep the farm going, “We had to diversify beyond just beef,” she said. “With the price of land, the chances of us expanding and keeping (their children) on the farm was slim to none. We were looking at different avenues we could do on the farm. One son is very into gardening, and we sell at farmers market. Our other son is into sheep — most of our sheep are his. We were trying to come up with other avenues we could get into on the farm so they can stay here,” he said.
Nick has been growing a garden for three years. Over the past several years, he has donated vegetables to the HELP House in London.
“Last year I gave them beans, tomatoes and some corn. They were really happy to get the food,” Nick said. he had heard about the Grow A Row efforts to help community food pantries and decided to do his part.
Doing it for the kids
They are a busy family. In addition to farming, Matt has been a township trustee for the last 10 years for Union Township and is on the EMS board. Kristin works at a forklift dealership in Franklin County.
Why do the Furbees farm?
“We do it for the kids here. Like what she is able to do right there,” he said, pointing to youngest daughter Samantha, 3, playing in their field, holding a kitten.
“Nick’s garden is larger than a lot of people’s entire yard. Luke has a herd of 21 sheep that he has raised and hopefully doing this will help put him through college. The kids get the benefit. ”
He added that when he posts photos of things on the farm on Instagram, “I use the hashtag #foodraisedright, and when I take pictures of the kids doing things out here, I use the hashtag #kidsraisedright.” They both said church plays a major role in their lives. They are active members of St. Patrick’s Church in London, and two of the kids are in Catholic school there.
“I would add that I saw a quote from Mother Teresa recently. She said: ‘Not everyone can do great things, but everyone can do small things with great love.’ That is what we do in farming and raising things. We put our heart and soul and sweat and tears into it. That makes the world a better place for us, and people in the rest of the world … we would like to hope,” said Kristin.
Visit www.foodraisedright.com to read about the day-to-day experiences on the farm.