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Sarah & Cedric Shannon

PASA Members Since 2004
Weathertop Farm LLC
Check, VA

Sarah and Cedric Shannon heard about PASA through some farming friends/mentors in Virginia who highly recommended the organization to them, especially the conference. At first they joined PASA to get a better rate for the conference fees and later renewed their membership because they appreciate all PASA does and being kept informed of current issues in farming.  Although they can't always get to the conference and the many other educational opportunities PASA makes available, they still like to read through all the options and think of all the potential! They especially love to read Brian Snyder's news in the Passages newsletter since they get a lot of encouragement from his honest and practical perspective.

“We always love the annual Farming for the Future Conference, we learn a lot from all the different speakers, workshops and other conference attendees, but more than that it's a big boost to our morale, it reinvigorates us, pulls our heads out of the daily farming blur and reminds us of the bigger picture out there, the ultimate reason why we're farming," said the Shannons.

For them "sustainable" means engaging in work and daily activities that have the capacity to be carried out consistently while maintaining, improving and building life rather than depleting and wearing it down.

On their farm they use a pasture-based model of raising animals, so as much as possible they try to keep nutrients cycling around the farm through constant mobility and composting, keeping the soil growing and the animals healthy as much as they can. This year they are looking into getting sheep, trying to add a ruminant to their mostly poultry-based farm, one that will build diversity into the nutrient cycle of the farm, and will rely less on grain based feed that has traveled many miles.

Sustainability also means a farm that is profitable enough to provide financial stability to keep you going year after year. Also include the element of "personal-sanity-sustainability" to keep from burning out. Knowing when to hire workers and/or interns to help with the work load to keep you sane is equally important to the farm. It also means sitting down regularly to think through what can be done better, always trying to keep the end goal in mind. Working long hours and just scraping by can work for a time because the farm life and work is meaningful, but when the farmer is constantly tired and barely making ends meet it starts to wear one down with time and can contribute to losing sight of the long-term goals that originally inspired him/her.

This year they are moving from hiring sporadic part-time help to seeking a full-time seasonal intern as their farm continues to grow and they personally feel a lot of pressure from the growing amount of work to be done. This way they hope to also be passing on some of the knowledge they have gained, aiming for some longer-term sustainability for the sustainable agriculture movement.

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