Sarver Heritage Farm has recently become the only American Grassfed Association (AGA) certified grassfed beef producer in West Virginia. AGA is “a national third party, multi-species entity organized to protect and promote true grassfed producers and grassfed products through communication, education, research and marketing.” From their website: “AGA defines grassfed animals as those that have eaten nothing but grass and forage from weaning to harvest, have not been raised in confinement, and have never been fed antibiotics or growth hormones. In addition, all AGA-Certified Producers are American family farms and their livestock is born and raised in the U.S.”
Robert and Jewell Doering said that certification and audit process took several months from start to finish and that the audit was conducted by WS Swecker, Jr. DVM, PhD from Virginia Tech University. AGA will hold annual audits to ensure that Sarver Heritage Farm holds true to AGA standards. “The audit process was very rigorous. But our practices have always been in line with AGA standards and we keep pretty good records”, said Robert. “We are proud to represent West Virginia and the Greenbrier Valley as the first, and so far, the only AGA certified beef producer in the state.” They actually go a step beyond AGA standards by not using herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides in their management practices.
Sarver Heritage Farm raises premium grassfed beef from Galloway/Angus cross cattle on 250 acres in Organ Cave. Robert is the grandson of Lacy and Viola Sarver, who established the farm in early 1951. Robert entered the farm under conservation easement through the Farmland Protection Program in an effort to preserve the farm for future generations and protect it from outside pressures and development. As Jewell says, “We are a forever farm.”
Since entering the diverse grassfed beef market, Sarver Heritage Farm has been quietly building a reputation for producing beef with superb flavor and quality, both locally and nationally. From a taster at the Artisan Beef Institute: “I’m in hamburger heaven.” From Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn: “It was the Platonic ideal of the modern steak. Sooooo beautifully beefy and best of all, balanced. None of those quirky flavors sticking out from the edges. If I did not know better I would have guessed it to be an aged USDA prime corn fed steak.”
Sarver Heritage Farm is part of two upcoming books about the art of raising superior quality meats and has been featured in the magazine Progressive Farmer.
The farm also bears the distinction of being one of only a few farms nationally to care enough about their products to have them tested for a Nutrition Facts Label. More information about their unique products can be found on their website, www.sarverheritagefarm.com. Sarver Heritage Farm’s AGA certified 100 percent grassfed beef can be found at only a few exclusive locations:
• All HealthSmart locations.
• The Alderson Food Hub at Wolf Creek Gallery
• The online store at www.sarverheritagefarm.com
Robert says: “We take a winemaker’s approach to our beef. It all begins with good soils and genetics, the rest is management: working with nature to produce a superior tasting product that offers a unique experience. The fact that it is also a healthier product and easy on the land is an added bonus. We very much enjoy watching the reactions of folks when they taste our beef for the first time.”