At 12 years old, Gary Mitchell moved from bustling San Francisco to the old Virginian house he lives in today — the same home his mother grew up in. The only thing going on in the quiet countryside was farming, but that suited Gary just fine. His neighbor was a farmer and, in Gary’s eyes, had the perfect job. “He worked for himself, called his own shots, was outside, got to do fun stuff around tractors and cows, and as a 12-year-old, I just fell in love with it.” That love always stayed with him, even after working 15+ years as an engineer. And at the end of the day, he couldn’t wait to come back home to his farm — right next door to the same neighbor that inspired him years ago.
In 2008, Gary hung up his engineering boots and decided it was time to follow his true passion and commit to farming full-time. Starting off, Gary created his own beef sharing business with a few partners, driving to DC each week to deliver his beef to restaurants. He parked his little truck right next to the big semis delivering food, and though small, they had business. Eventually they expanded into local organic stores and markets, working with more farms that followed their same mission to sell 100% grass-fed beef, completely free of antibiotics and added hormones. This is when Grayson Natural Farms was born.
All Grayson Natural Farms' cattle are born and raised in the mountains of northwest North Carolina and southwest Virginia. Cattle develop at their own pace, always on open pasture, grazing on fescue, orchard, timothy and clover grasses local to the area. Their meat has a rich, beefy taste distinctive to the region, the same kind of mouth-watering flavor enjoyed generations ago because of the simple, natural and humane way the cattle were raised.
Grayson Naturals is committed to sustainable farming — but that goes beyond just keeping the business going. Gary says, “It’s about not depleting resources, animals or the land, and minimizing inputs.” Gary participates in CREP, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, which fences off the creeks and provides alternative well water for the cattle to drink. This reduces sediment in the creeks and provides cattle with a cleaner source of water, plus prevents creek bank erosion and provides a wildlife habitat to their farm. Healthier land means healthier cows and better-tasting meat, plus an environment that stays fruitful for years to come.