Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of North Carolina, Shipley Farm Beefs stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Shipley family's dedication to raising English breeds of cattle. For over a century, the Shipley family has been at the forefront of Hereford farming, introducing the first registered stock of this noble breed to the state. Today, Delivery Rank has the privilege of “sitting down” with Gray Shipley, a partner at Shipley Farm Beefs, to delve into the rich heritage, challenges, and future aspirations that have shaped their remarkable journey. Gray Shipley, an integral partner at Shipley Farm Beefs, epitomizes this profound connection to the family's agricultural heritage. Drawing from years of experience and knowledge, Gray has not only preserved the time-honored practices but has also embraced modern advancements to ensure the sustainability and growth of the farm. Under his guidance, Shipley Farm Beefs continues to flourish as a beacon of excellence and a bastion of preserving English breeds in North Carolina. Join us as we delve into the captivating narrative of Shipley Farm Beefs, where tradition and innovation intertwine to shape a thriving enterprise that continues to honor the Shipley family's rich heritage and contribute to the preservation of English breeds for generations to come.
W.E. and his brother Huston were prominent and well respected cattlemen in Western NC, a legacy that my grandfather R.G. Shipley took on and expanded. R.G. inherited this farm in 1929 and was the proprietor for 86 years. He was a big proponent of agricultural education, and taught high school vocational agriculture for nearly 50 years. He was a champion of the Hereford breed, but even more, a champion of good agricultural practices - care for the land, the livestock, and the community.
English breeds are built for the weather of the British Isles with cold winters and mildly warm summers, so they handle our mountain winters quite well and thrive in this environment. They're also preferred for their marbling and meat quality, and mild disposition which also affects meat quality (high-strung and easily agitated animals can have more lactic acid in the muscle tissue). And the English breeds are easier calving animals.
Farming is a challenging field, to be sure, especially small family farms that lack the economies of scale, equipment, and automation that massive Midwestern farms have - so we have to find ways to create additional value and additional margin from our farming activities. North Carolina is the #2 state in the country for farmland projected to be lost to development in the coming years, and farmland in our area is among the hardest hit. We're incorporating agritourism - tours, events, and rental properties where people can come connect with mountain farming and see where their food comes from and what goes into our product that makes it unique. And we've also expanded into meat processing, where we can create our own "value-added" products from our pasture-raised beef, and offer processing services to other farmers here in the community so they can have their meat processed locally, and capture more of that value for themselves. And we sell direct to consumers, we have a farm store here, we ship gift packages and subscription boxes and sell sides of beef, however each person wants to connect with and support the farm, we make it easy. It's all important and necessary to be able to sustain small family farms.
As an educator, R.G. Shipley was an early adopter of a lot of improved agricultural practices like rotational grazing. There are always new terms coming along to describe it - sustainable agriculture, and more recently regenerative agriculture - but really its all about continually improving the land year after year instead of depleting it, and for the most part, the plants and animals and weather do the work - nature has an incredible design to it, that if we'll get out of the way and not try to interfere too much, the land will improve itself.
Our mission is to leave land, people, and communities better off through food and farming done with excellence and purpose. So we want to see farming sustained and healthy and growing throughout the High Country and beyond, and be a blessing to the community we live in and work in. And hopefully we can be an outlet for people to come and connect with the farm and their food, and understand the impact on health and nutrition that can come through getting food right off the farm.
One of the things we're most excited about, to that end, is "Good Fields" - the Appalachian Food and Farms Festival that's starting up here this summer, on June 24th. The theme is sustaining local farms, and we've got several of the leading chefs across North Carolina coming out to serve tasting dishes with other local food purveyors from all around the area.
If you would like to find out more about Shipley Farms Beef, visit https://shipleyfarmsbeef.com/