Michael Stonnington grew up in a medical family, so it's no surprise that his day job is an orthopedic surgeon. But when he takes off the scrubs and heads home, he's going to his second job- cattle farming.
"I feel like I'm doing something important," says Stonnington. "I feel like I'm doing something important up in Hattiesburg when I'm an orthopedic surgeon. I also feel like I'm doing something important when I'm here on the farm."
His work on the farm is important for several reasons. First, it's a family farm. His wife and three kids help out from tending to cattle to placing orders for customers. But it's also important because his cattle are grass-fed. With his medical background, Stonnington knows how important that is for both the cattle and the consumer.
"The consumers are.. understanding that they need to know where their food comes from so they can make the best health choices for themselves," says Stonnington.
Stonnington Farm is 338 acres with close to 200 cows, all of which are grass-fed. The farm does not use antibiotics or hormones, and no grain is fed to the cattle. The beef that is produced is leaner, which is better for both cooking and health purposes.
Stonnington admits that before he began raising grass-fed cattle, it was hard for him to find that type of beef.
"It was very hard to find," says Stonnington. "You had to order it out of state or go to Whole Foods, and it's very expensive."
That's why he has joined forces with the local businesses such as the Corner Market and the Branch at Purple Parrot Café.
"That's really what I'm trying to do here," explains Stonnington. "I'm trying to make an affordable grass-fed beef."
He says that if the demand continues to grow, so will his farm. But he makes it clear that he will not retreat from the core reason "responsible family farming."
"I think you can get too big," says Stonnington. "You never want to leave the concept of the family farm. You don't want it to become like a corporate farm. You want to stay connected to your community. You want to stay connected to your grocery stores, to your restaurants and to your customers."
Find out more about or place orders with Stonnington Farm at www.stonningtonfarm.com
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