For almost a century, Laurel Springs operated as a dairy farm before transitioning to focus on beef in 2013. Today, their beef continues to be a favorite in local restaurants and farmers markets for its fork-tender texture and rich, succulent flavor — the result of Seth and Courtney Umbarger’s attentiveness to their cattle’s upbringing and their careful land practices. In 2018, they even won a Clean Water Farm Award for their efforts, some of which included using a gravity-fed reservoir system to supply clean-water access to both sides of their farm, fertilizing their land with the byproducts of their cows instead of harsh chemicals, rotating crops, and implementing measures to prevent erosion on their mountainous landscape.
Raised on pastures and homegrown alfalfa, corn and hay, cattle live a stress-free life on the 1,000+ acres at Laurel Springs Farm. Seth, a fifth-generation farmer, and his wife Courtney are passionate about the animals they raise; the fields they plant, live, and work on; and the land they preserve. “You can’t be a good farmer without being a good steward of the land,” Courtney says, which is something she hopes to instill in their three children as they grow up. After all, with the hope of the 6th Umbarger generation taking over one day, their land has to remain fertile and their cattle, strong.
Beyond the daily work of their farm, the Umbargers also have a focus on the community and agricultural education. Helping kids understand where food comes from is especially important to Courtney, who also works as the region’s Farm to School lead promoting community-based food systems in schools and beyond. Additionally, the Umbargers partner closely with their local farmers market hosting a farm-to-table dinner, with proceeds going to a local children’s program that teaches healthy eating and purchasing. “I hope to imprint in them that food doesn’t just come from the grocery store. It starts at a farm and there’s a farmer and family behind it,” Courtney says.