Highland Orchard Farm
|Address:|| 6142 Highland Orchard Lane
Covesville, VA 22931
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Highland Orchard Farm is managed by Fred and Amber Lyssy. Foodwaze has visited the farm and you can read a full description under the Details tab. You can also read a Foodwaze blog post about the farm by clicking on this link. Here is an overview of the farm:
• Animals raised: Black Angus/Devon hybrid beef cattle, Dorper/St. Croix and American Blackbelly sheep, Kiko/Boer cross goats, Berkshire/Old Spot pigs, Freedom Ranger meat chickens, and ducks for meat and eggs.
• Living Environment: All animals are raised outdoors. Cows, sheeps, and goats are in fields their entire lives. The pigs live in the woods and pastures. Chickens and ducks live on pasture and are protected from predators by electric fences and a guard dog.
• Animal Diets: Cattle, sheep and goats are 100% grass-fed. The pigs forage for nuts, berries, fruit, roots, and bugs, and are supplemented with organic sprouted grains. The poultry also forage in the pastures. They’re supplemented with non-GMO grains.
• Grazing Methods: This farm takes the job of being stewards of the land to heart using the permaculture principles. They maintain regular rotational grazing to ensure the animals are constantly moved to the best available grass and that healthy soil is built and maintained.
• Other Practices: There are NO chemicals, biosolids, hormones, or sub-therapeutic antibiotics used on the farm.
• Other Products in the Store: All products are from Highland Orchard Farm. No other products are sold.
Other things to know about this Place:
• There is an orchard on this farm, where they grow cider apples organically. They are not for sale directly to the public.
• The Lyssys, who are from Texas, began managing this farm in 2014 and putting their imprint on it through their commitment to organic, holistic practices. It is worth keeping an eye on as they continue to make their mark in Virginia.
• The farm uses Seven Hills Foods in Lynchburg to process their meat.
This listing was compiled using the following processes:
• A site visit, or visits
• Discussion with the owners, management, and/or staff
• Other research
Located in Albemarle County about 20 minutes south of Charlottesville, this large family farm is dedicated to high standards of regenerative agriculture. Sprawled over rolling and scenic hills, the farm is a multi-species livestock farm, and as the name attests, an orchard… and vineyard.
The 900-acre+ farm is locally owned and under the day-to-day management of Fred Lyssy, his wife Amber, and their young children. Foodwaze has had a chance to visit the farm and see first-hand all the amazing things they do. The Lyssys were hired to run the farm in late 2014, and have been developing a holistic livestock and land management program ever since, building on years of experience doing the same thing in their native Texas.
Applying principles of permaculture and grass-based rotational grazing, they are steadfastly devoted to nurturing healthy soil and producing nutrient dense food. The foundation of any effective rotational grazing program starts with the ruminants. Highland Orchard raises three different kinds: cattle, sheep, and goats. They raise Black Angus/Devon hybrid beef cattle, Dorper/St. Croix and American Blackbelly sheep (both being hair sheep), and Kiko/Boer cross goats. The ruminants are all 100% grass-fed, in accordance with their natural diets, which keeps their meat lean and healthful and free of the need for the chemicals and hormones found in factory-raised meat. Herds and flocks are closed, meaning that all breeding takes place on the farm to keep them pure, except in limited situations, such as building their sheep flock.
Next up in the pastures are the poultry. They too have lots of space to roam free and feast on their natural diet of bugs, worms, and grass. They raise ducks for both meat and eggs. The meat chickens they raise are a breed known as the Freedom Ranger. This breed is a slower-growing bird more suitable to being raised in a real pasture environment. They clearly look like they enjoy being outdoors! The poultry is supplemented with Non-GMO grains. Their habitat is protected from predators by electric fencing and the watchful eye of a guard dog.
Last of the livestock are the Berkshire/Old Spot pigs, which were introduced to the farm in 2016. They are raised in the hilly woods on the property, where they are free to forage for roots, nuts, berries, and leaves. What’s truly amazing about the pigs at Highland Orchard, is that they are supplemented with organic feed that is sprouted. As you’d see under the Foodwaze principles, we’re advocates of humans eating sprouted grains as a way to aid their digestion and capture more of their nutritional value. This is a benefit the Lyssys are passing along to their hogs, albeit not without tremendous labor and dedication. First they must buy the organic grains. Then they must coax them along until they sprout, doing so without letting them spoil.
We’ve gotten this far without talking about the “orchard” part of this operation. Using organic practices, they are growing cider apples which they hope to contribute to the growing cider industry in the area. A permaculture/regenerative component to the orchards is the benefit of feeding unused fruit to the pigs, limiting waste and helping further enhance the animals’ diets.
Lastly is the vineyard, which contains a variety of vinifera, or European, grapes commonly used in wines. Due to the susceptibility of these grapes to black rot, some spraying is done, but the farm is devoted to seeking out organic practices for the future, a pledge that seems entirely sincere as evidenced by its overall commitment to clean farming practices.
You can purchase Highland Orchard meat online to pick up at their farm store on Friday afternoons. Or please click on the Places tab to find other locations around the area. We look forward to watching the number of locations grow in the future, along with this impressive farm.