Services Offered: Sustainable farmers specializing in pastured livestock including pigs chickens, turkeys, vegetables, berries and other fruit, flowers, and more for Farmer’s Markets, individuals, and for sale to local restaurants, fresh eggs are always available. We practice treatment free beekeeping, and offer raw honey. Other offerings include chicken bone broth and homemade lard soap.
Please tell us a little about your ranch:
We specialize in sustainable farming. We don’t get mixed up in labels and paying for certifications. We’re focused on educating people about where their food comes from and how it’s raised. Regenerative agriculture is about healing the land and using as few artificial inputs as possible. This can include crop rotation, companion planting and natural fertilizers such as compost and manure.
Soil management is also very important in regenerative farming as the soil can lose its nutrients and quality can deplete.
Crop Diversity or polyculture is also a practice we use to grow a variety of crops simultaneously. We rotate our animals on pasture to imitate how animals graze the land; giving them fresh nutrients. This process also fertilizes the land and naturally disturbs (tills) the soil awakening dormant seeds.
In sustainable farming our methods may seem unconventional, but they’re historically normal if you look at how the rest of the world and generations before us raised crops. We combine today’s technologies with longstanding methods of regenerative farming. In addition to the flowers, berries and other fruit, vegetables, and more for local farmer’s markets and restaurants; we also raise chickens, pigs and turkeys.
How did you develop your concept or idea for the business?
Our business is veteran owned and operated. I (Matt) was a Special Forces Green Beret for 15 years after graduating high school, and was deployed nine times. After getting injured for the second time in 2015, and much more seriously than the first time, I received a medical retirement from the military and decided it was time to be home with my wife and children. Just before I began the medical retirement process my friends asked me about being part owner of some land we had all grown up on. My high school friend, Joey Ellwood, and I realized our passion for this type of farming and decided to seek out ways that the land could be improved, but also provide abundance for our families. We became partners in EDS Ranch LLC. Joey and I grew up together, and spent time fishing and hunting on the property next to EDS Ranch. Joey continues to work full-time, and has spent his free time helping to build up our progression, and offerings.
Due to my service in the Army, many opportunities were available to help with the start-up of our business. The Farmer’s Veteran Coalition was very valuable with guiding us in our endeavor, and provided us with lower interest loans, legal consultation, a grant for our beekeeping practice, and business planning. They also offer farming fellowship, Homegrown by Heroes, educational workshops and seminars, as well as peer network programs. Joey and I still take part in roundtables and seminars as time allows. We have also been meeting with local farmers to promote each other, and partner in our specialty areas. There is always more to learn, and we have a thirst for knowledge.
What challenges do you face?
Our method of farming takes a lot more time, and work, but it is so worth it. We know we are offering the best quality in our meat, produce, and accessory items, but convenience can be our worst opponent.
In this day and age, it takes less time to stop at the store, and buy there, so this can be a real challenge. Some people don’t have deep freezers, and aren’t able stock up on meat for the freezer. However, we do offer meat bundles to help in that area. In addition, some of our products are seasonable, so that is also a real trial, but remember when in season, our crops are fresh, and directly from the source, us.
We practice sustainable farming because of our passion for the earthy lifestyle, real food and our love of the earth. With working the long hours we do, you have to have a very deep love for the earth, and we want to share that with restaurants, neighbors, friends and all interested in healthy living and healthy eating habits. Once you try this natural way of nutrition — you won’t want to go back.
What would you like to highlight or share?
My wife is currently finishing up her Master’s degree, and has taken classes in the area of grant writing, so with her assistance, we are hoping to expand the farm even more in the next several years. Our dream come true would be to start a Veteran Retreat here at the ranch, so veterans can visit, and spend time learning the art of beekeeping and other farming operations. I want to give back in this area, as there are so many veterans that do struggle, and with a retreat, Joey and I would offer so many positive skills and support for my fellow veterans.
We are very thankful for our families. We have three generations doing their part to make things go, and we wouldn’t want to raise our kids any other way. They’re learning entrepreneurial skills while also getting a first-hand experience of what it means to be a steward of the land, and its animals. Another area we’re passionate about is the idea of people taking back their kitchens, and to teach their children how to cook. Buy local, and know where your food comes from. Enjoy that family meal together — which often times is the only chance you have to slow down from a fast paced day, and appreciate one another. That’s what it’s all about.
Name of business: EDS Ranch LLC
Facebook: EDS Ranch LLC
Address: Petry Hill Road, Gnadenhutten
Owners: Matt Schaar and Joey Ellwood