by Katie Kross
On April 13, Chad and Jodi Ray, owners of Ray Family Farms in Bunn, NC, traveled to the White House to be honored as “Champions of Change”. The Rays were recognized along with six other leaders from the sustainable business and nonprofit community from around the country—from IBM to the Outdoor Industry Association. The White House award recognizes “ordinary people across the country who are doing extraordinary things.”
Ray Family Farms is a 170-acre farm that sells beef, pork, poultry and vegetables directly to local customers. Besides championing organic and animal welfare practices in their farming, the Rays incorporate practices like water conservation and solar energy generation on their farm. Their efforts come from shared belief in land stewardship and love of their local community, where their families have lived for at least nine generations.
WHITE HOUSE HONOREES
At the White House, the Rays spoke on a panel with the other honorees (video). Chad talked about why sustainability is important to him. In farming today, he said, “you either have to be better … or be bigger. And ‘be bigger’ isn’t in a lot of family farms’ game plans. So, sustainability was the path we chose to be better.” Chad and Jodi also talked about the importance of connecting to local community, knowing where one’s food comes from, and forming a bond with one’s local community.
“In North Carolina, if every person spent 10% of their food [budget on food] from farms with animals and vegetables grown in North Carolina, it would employ 250,000 people like Jodi and I,” Chad said. “Imagine what our country could be if we committed to our local environment and our local economy just 10 percent of our spending power.”