In the central Texas county of Comanche, roughly 100 miles west of Dallas, lies a 1,300-acre dairy operation belonging to Charles and Kaye Williams. Part of that acreage began as Grandfather Williams’ farm in 1915.
When Charles took over his family’s conventionally run farm, his biggest goal was to rejuvenate the soil without using chemical fertilizer. He began using manure some of the larger dairy operations were trying to get rid of to treat his soil instead of buying synthetic fertilizer.
Once he decided to go completely organic, Charles was surprised that people were so interested in what he was planning to do. “I thought people would be a little more averse to it. My dad always talked about the practices he used, and I don’t know what the community response was to him, but people are certainly concerned now. Our area has a high rate of cancer, and it’s kind of locally acknowledged that this is due—at least in part—to the intensive use of toxic pesticides and herbicides over the years. There are certain areas of the community where everybody has had these health problems.”
For the Williams family, farming organically means survival for their small farm as they go up against the competition of the large dairies. “We joined Organic Valley because they offered a market for the smaller dairies. The co-op really helped us with the organic transition. Without Organic Valley’s interest and support, we couldn’t have gone forward.”
“I’m 64 now and I’m going to farm some more,” Charles continues. “I feel pretty good. I’ve been rebuilding the farm to leave it a better place. I know that’s possible when I watch the cows graze. I like to turn them out after milking and walk amongst them while they graze.”
Find out more about the Williams family here!