Arbogast Farms has transformed over the decades from a single-family free-range turkey farm to a diverse operation that directly supports three families through five houses of chickens (broilers), a cow/calf herd of 450, a calf backgrounding site of 400, and crop rotations. Farming with my husband Brian and two sons, my story in agriculture begins with my mother-in-law, and to date, I consider her one of my most valuable resources. She is a role model and continual supporter as I have worked to balance a full-time job off the farm, family, work on the farm, and increasing agriculture leadership engagements. Although I work off the farm full time, my engagement on evenings and weekends, coupled with a constant thirst for knowledge, has led to a deep understanding and passion for not only our farm, but agriculture overall.
HOW WE’RE SMART FARMING TODAY
“Smart” can be defined in many ways, and demonstrates that there isn’t a one size fits all box. Arbogast Farms is certainly a “smart-farm” by definition of technology advances and sustainable development like many other farms. However, through the lens of education, we also demonstrate some SMART farm examples, such as: Data takes many forms, from computers in the chicken houses, relevant iPhone apps, and computers in the tractors. Also, we work in cooperation with local agencies such as USDA- NRCS and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to advocate for sustainability.
HOW I’VE TOLD MY STORY
When communicating with consumers, I approach from a relationship angle. After all, I see myself in them, as a former city girl, and have a desire to relate in a way they can understand. Many acquaintances and friends often have questions about our chicken houses, and so I listen for their underlying question (i.e. animal welfare, antibiotics, etc.) and then address the question from the appropriate angle. Using pictures of our family in the houses and stories of interaction, I demonstrate what a modern poultry house and production looks like.
Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR), Virginia Agri-Women, Ag Chat Foundation, Virginia Young Farmers (FFA), Broadway-Timberville, Virginia Farm Bureau