2014 Recipient: Walnut Hollow Ranch

Charlie Kissling, Walnut Hollow Ranch

$6,000—All Natural Beef Business Expansion

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To meet heightened demand for all natural grass-fed beef in Clay County and surrounding communities, Charlie is increasing beef production by an additional 5,300 pounds of beef cuts with this project. He is purchasing on-site freezer storage units and automated equipment for supplemental feeds. The feed transport trailer reduces feed, fuel and storage costs, allowing the ranch to increase the herd and hire additional employees.

Walnut Hollow Ranch has consistently exceeded income projections since 2009. Retired from the food and beverage industry since 2003, Charlie said “farming full time was a welcomed and refreshing new career.” He started slow with a large learning curve, but his style of slowly-but-surely expansion coupled with smart fiscal management has moved him to a point where now more than 50 percent of his household income now is from the farm.

Walnut Hollow Ranch is a unique operation as Charlie’s involvement from conception through harvest makes it so he can produce premium beef similar to high choice steakhouse grade cuts.

Charlie is also improving the farm’s marketing strategy, reconfiguring the farm store with improved signage, offering a large selection of beef cuts, and allowing easy access to the farm with a concrete drive. He plans on holding farm to table meals, hosting tourists at the ranch, and investing in the Agricultural Tourism Highway Signs program to boost on-farm sales of beef. He also sells to restaurants, delis and other retail outlets.

Charlie is the chairman of Southern Appalachian Family Farms, a farmer-led marketing organization assisting Clay and Cherokee Counties and is the co-founder of the Evening Harvest Farmer’s Market in Hayesville.

See www.WalnutHollowRanch.com and Walnut Hollow Ranch on Facebook.

Clay County

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