Meet Your Farmer: Shady Grove Ranch in Jefferson | Environment
There is something incredibly rewarding when you shake the hand of the farmer that grew your food and see the place where it was grown and raised. The Cadmans of Shady Grove Ranch in Jefferson take a common sense approach to caring for their land, the food they grow, and the animals they raise. And, it just so happens, they have some darned happy pigs! Please, meet your farmer...
We are Matt and Jerica Cadman. When we married in 2006, we knew little about food and even less about sustainability. We had never shopped at a farmers market and didn’t buy any of our food from farms—we didn’t even know that was possible! But when Matt was hospitalized with a severe flare-up of ulcerative colitis, causing him to drop from 165 pounds at 6’5” to less than 120 pounds despite following traditional medical advice, we realized that it was up to us to find the answers to how to get him better.
We stumbled along blindly for a while, but finally learned about pasture-raised meats and nutrient-density. We also learned how important it is to eat whole foods that are easy to digest, such as fermented foods and well-marbled grass-fed meat.
We began to seek out those foods—the ones raised on pasture without medications or genetically-engineered feeds or confinement practices. But in the 2007-2008 East Texas food climate, finding good clean food was difficult at best. We found ourselves driving all over the place just to get our food. Kilgore for eggs, Cameron for milk, Hallsville for beef, Dallas for pork (if we wanted it that badly!), Commerce for chicken. Though it was difficult, it began to provide healing for Matt’s guts, so we knew it was worth the effort and expense.
We got excited about food production and read several of Joel Salatin’s books about his multi-species, rotational, pasture-based livestock operation. We started to wonder if our desire to help others with intestinal diseases like Matt’s would be fulfilled by us starting our own multi-faceted farming operation right here in East Texas. There was clearly a need. With our engineering backgrounds, we felt that we could find ways to solve the many puzzles of learning how to farm sustainably. So we started. And we’re still going strong five years later on our own land in Jefferson, Texas.
We have partnered with Matt’s parents to raise grass-fed beef and soy-free chicken, pork, eggs, and turkey, all without chemicals, genetically-engineered feeds, confinement, or medications. We strive to produce great-tasting, easy-to-cook, well-marbled cuts of meat and rotationally-raised eggs. We have two sons who get to grow up watching us work and learning skills that will help them to provide for their own families some day.
One of our favorite aspects of local food production is getting to serve our customers directly. They get to come SEE where their food is produced, ask questions, learn about our style of farming, and get passionate about it. We sell to a few local health food stores, and even the employees get excited when “their farmers” walk through the door. We love what we do and we love being able to provide a healing product of high integrity that fulfills a most basic need: clean, nourishing, sustainable food.
Want to meet them in person? Matt and Jerica welcome visitors to their ranch, just call ahead so they can plan your visit, (903) 665-7076, and be sure to check out their Shady Grove Ranch website for more photos, recipes, or to signup to their newsletter. Want to know more about Joel Salatin? Get the dirt here: Polyface Farms