Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Faul Family Riverside Farm. It is a local farm in Henry County, that is trying to improve the quality of meat products in our area. It is a sprawling farm with 100 acres and several different types of livestock, including cows, chickens, laying hens, turkeys, pigs, and sheep. Apart from animals, they also have a gorgeous barn that is available for wedding ceremonies, special events, or barn parties.
The owners, the Faul family, along with their son Andre Faul being the chief farmhand, are trying to make clean and healthier made more accessible in our community. I am fortunate that I know Andre personally because we went to high school together, and we’ve kept in touch with each other over the years. Since I moved back to Kentucky, I had wanted to go and check out his farm. I saw posts from the farm on the internet, and he and I had talked back and forth about some of the things he was doing, so my curiosity was peaked. Since there is nothing better than seeing for yourself, I asked Andre if it would be ok for me to come out and take a tour of the farm.
The drive to the farm from Louisville is around 30 minutes, and the roads to get there are a little curvy, but besides that, it’s an easy journey. Once I arrived on the farm, the first thing that I noticed was the massive barn and the quilt on top of the barn. For those who don’t know, it is a widespread practice for barns in Kentucky to have quilts painted on wood at the top of them. It isn’t a concept original to Kentucky, but Kentucky loved the idea, and most barns around here have one at top. The reason why the Faul family’s quilt stands out is that it has the colors of the South African flag. You may ask yourself why the colors of the flag for South Africa would be on a barn in the middle of Kentucky. The answer is that the Faul family is originally from South Africa.
In 2001, Andre’s mom received a job offer at the University of Louisville, and the family decided to pack up and move halfway across the world. The next question you may be asking yourself is, “How does a family from South Africa end up with a farm in Henry County, Kentucky?” The answer was a bit surprising to me, but it once I heard it, I was inspired.
Andre’s grandfather was a citrus farmer in South Africa. He said that hearing his dad’s stories about growing up on a farm and farming the land inspired him and made him want to experience it for himself. His parents decided to buy the farm in 2015 and then offered him the opportunity to turn his dreams into reality.
Andre previously worked as a fish farmer in Miami, and he didn’t enjoy his job whatsoever. (We’ve all been there at least once.) So when his parents offered him the opportunity to run the farm for him, he gladly accepted. Although he traded warm weather and beautiful beaches for the bluegrass and the very brown Ohio River, he did bring back a part of Miami with him. See the Faul Family farm is one of two local farms that harvest shrimp. Andre runs the only farm that supplies fresh shrimp to the local Jefferson, Oldham, and Henry Co. communities and also a local Louisville restaurant, Harvest.
This year alone, they are on track to harvest about 300-350 lbs. of shrimp, and while visiting the farm, he showed me the new expansion that they are working on. Currently, the shrimp are harvested in a building that contains two huge saltwater tanks. Once Andre and his help finish building the new enclosure, he plans to have at least eight containers filled with saltwater shrimp. It will allow him to distribute his product to more local restaurants that are interested in purchasing local, organic harvested shrimp.
The fact that they harvest shrimp isn’t the only thing about the farm that makes them stand apart from others. It’s the way that Andre farms that truly sets them apart. They use a style of farming called ‘Regenerative Agriculture.’ When I asked Andre to explain this type of agriculture to me, this is what he said, “The farming we do has a positive impact on our land, as opposed to most farming practices that destroy the area. We mimic nature in how we move our animals around our pastures, i.e., wild herds of ruminants are always on the move, not staying in one area for more than a couple days. Moving the animals gets them off their manure and decreases the likelihood of them getting sick from constant exposure to parasites and bacteria, and it gives them continuous access to fresh grass. “
According to Andre, all of their animals play vital roles in maintaining the farm, and they all have specific jobs. “The laying hens move around the pasture and scratch through sheep and cow droppings, picking out any parasites and working the manure into the soil. They also leave behind nitrogen-rich manure that benefits the soil. The cows and sheep graze the pastures and promote grass growth by consuming the grass, and they also leave behind beneficial manure that feeds the soil microbes. Our pigs help us in clearing brush and thickets and digging down to disturb the seedbed underneath the pasture, thereby promoting different grasses and legumes to grow once they move on. And our turkeys are efficient grazers and love to graze on grasses, legumes, and even take care of some weeds in the pasture.”
While on the farm, we discussed his schedule and how he has a set amount of days for each enclosure. The most impressive part about their operation is that it is just Andre and a family friend are the only ones working at the farm. His friend is only here temporarily, so once he heads back to South Africa, Andre will be a one-person show again. That means one man will be in charge of taking care of ten cows, one hundred turkeys, ten pigs, three hundred chickens, and ten sheep. Honestly, I don’t know how he does it because I can barely take care of myself, let alone a 100-acre farm with so many animals. Not only does he take care of the land and the cattle, but he is also in charge of taking their animals to their local USDA approved poultry and meat processor. Once they get the meat processed, he also sells it online and at the local Farmer’s Market in LaGrange, KY.
After discussing the entire process of how the farm starts with tiny hatchlings, baby pigs, and shrimp and Andre takes care of them until they are ready to be processed, it makes me have more respect for organic farmers like him. It’s a long process and not an easy one. The number of hours and work that goes into maintaining their farm is crazy, but in the end, it is worth it. As Andre said, when he can have a meal with his family that he knows were raised organically and processed in the least cruel way possible, it creates a sense of accomplishment. It also makes you respect your food, and in turn, you waste less.
The farm typically does a monthly event from spring until fall. Their “Chat & Chews” are where you can take a tour around the farm and have a meal featuring their final products. It’s a great way to educate children and adults on organic farming, and the positive effects that it has on the land. It is also an excellent opportunity to taste the hard work and labor of the farm. Andre also allows people to come out and walk around the farm during the day as long as they contact him prior and give him a heads up that they want to come out.
If you are looking for a taste of what the Faul Family Riverside farm produces, all of the poultry, meat, and shrimp products can be purchased online or at the local Farmer’s Market in LaGrange, Kentucky, from spring until fall. You can also try some of the Faul Family Riverside chicken at Grassa Gramma in Holiday Manor in Louisville, and the shrimp can be found at Harvest on Market St. in Louisville. Don’t be surprised if you start to see the Faul Family Riverside farm name start popping up on more menus around Louisville as they are currently in the talks for being a feature in other local restaurants.
Faul Family Riverside Farm is just another example of a local business that is trying to have a positive impact on our community through hard work, respect, and love for the environment. Their goal is to have a positive impact on the environment and a healthy product on your plate.
To find out more about Faul Family Riverside Farm or to plan your visit, you can contact Andre directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. While you visit, you can purchase their products, and you can always buy their products online on their website below.
A special thank you to Andre and his family for allowing me to tour around their farm and for taking the time to explain the process to me. It was a great experience!