As part of TWR’s Mission to help create a more Regenerative, Humane, Healthy food system for all, we truly enjoy spending time in the field connecting with current and potential partners who share our passion for the grass-fed cause.
To that end, I (Mike Murray) had the honor this past month of joining fellow TWR team members Ian Chamberlain, Cat Morris and Tanna Wheeler, along with our valued partners from the Savory Institute, Victoria Keziah and Chris Kerston, on a visit to one of Savory’s nearby hub ranches – Parker Pastures in beautiful Gunnison, CO. The overall experience was just too compelling not to share!
HAPPY, HEALTHY PEOPLE
Firstly, I have to thank our gracious hosts, and obviously committed holistic planned grazing gurus, Bill and Kelli Parker and family. Their commitment to a better way of both feeding and regenerating our planet simply oozed from their beautiful home and personalities as we shared a delicious lunch of 100% grass-fed, regeneratively grazed hamburgers, TWR dogs & sausages, and locally procured fruits, veggies and sides together. HAPPY, HEALTHY PEOPLE – CHECK!
HAPPY, HEALTHY PLANET
After lunch, and a lively discussion of how the Parkers are helping to spread the word about the benefits of holistically managed grazing with ranchers in their area, we embarked on a gorgeous walking tour of the operation. On 400 acres of land leased from the township, nestled among the tremendous beauty of Gunnison’s high mountain valley and river, we walked paddock after paddock of some of the lushest grassland I’ve ever seen. Amidst what is universally considered a ‘brittle’ ecosystem, the spring perennial grass was knee high, the alfalfa and clovers was vibrantly green, and Bill and Chris proudly cracked open dung patties to school us on the obvious signs of bio-diversity, micro-organism health and nutrient density. Clearly, the Parker’s execution of holistic planned grazing was having the intended regenerative effect, with the herd exhibiting the predator/prey behaviors of old and letting their mouths, rumens, digestive systems and hooves do exactly what nature intended for the ecosystem. HAPPY, HEALTHY PLANET – CHECK!
HAPPY, HEALTHY ANIMALS
Finally, we came upon the paddock currently being grazed by the Parker’s roughly 100 head of cattle. Only the pictures and video can properly do it justice, but as we approached we were met with one of the most peaceful, natural, stress-free scenes I have run across in my excursions with TWR so far. Beautiful, happy, healthy looking Angus, Devon and Angus/Devon cross of various ages and sizes peacefully lounged in the shade by the river, contentedly chewing their cud as their rumens did their thing. It was the polar opposite of what the mind conjures of conventional feedlots, and even the increasingly common ‘grass feedlots’ in the US that cut too many corners on grain, confinement and overall humane practices. The Parkers and the land clearly love these animals, and if they could talk I’m confident they’d tell us the feeling is very mutual! HAPPY, HEALTHY ANIMALS – CHECK!
GRATITUDE, GRIT & HOPE
Overall, it was such an energizing and inspiring day on all fronts – one that strengthened existing partnerships and laid the groundwork for new ones. One thing is for sure, for the future of People, Animals and Planet alike, we need more Parker Pastures in our food system ASAP. But as obvious as the solution they represent may seem, those of us in the movement know it is an uphill battle that is going to take every ounce of our collective resolve to overcome. I am extremely thankful to be in a position to help, along with great, visionary partners and leaders like team TWR, The Savory Institute, Certified Humane and Parker Pastures. Please join us in the cause by continuing to ask the hard questions and demand the best of your food and the brands you choose to support. We WILL do better to create happiness all around – together!