We Do More Than Raise Sheep

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ESSAA is about more than just raising sheep.  Being a student-run group, our goals extend far beyond maximizing profits.  We hold education, experimentation and outreach as core values to be upheld in all aspects of our operation.

To demonstrate this commitment, we dedicate a portion of all sales to sponsor campus and community events, organize field trips, and provide resources for students to pursue their own agricultural interests.  Below are just a few examples of what your support has allowed us to do:

  • University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program Trip Consumers are increasingly concerned about the well-being of farm animals.  People believe strongly that farm animals deserve a high standard of living regardless of whether or not they are destined for someone’s plate.  So to learn more we crossed the border into Canada to visit perhaps the most well-known animal welfare research program in the world. Once there we met with researchers and students from across the globe to discuss the ethics and the science of farm animal welfare.  This experience reminded us of the need to continually reevaluate what we owe animals and to what extent.
  • Heritage Turkey Trials  For the past couple years we have been experimenting with raising a small flock of heritage turkeys — evaluating the potential they have for integration into our pasture rotation. Thus far this has been a pretty successful endeavor and we hope to start offering Thanksgiving birds to our customers soon.
  • Animal Rights as a Mainstream Phenomenon w/ Dr. Bernard Rollin ESSAA has always had a deep commitment to animal welfare.  Unlike some involved in alternative agriculture, we’ve learned that simply putting animals on pasture and letting them fend for themselves is no guarantee of humaneness (being killed by coyotes, dying from exposure, and succumbing to parasites are all ‘natural’, but in no way humane).  To adress these and other issues ESSAA sponsored Dr. Bernard Rollin, University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University and animal welfare pioneer, to explain the philosophical underpinnings of animal welfare and what it means for animal agriculture.  We were pleased to have more than 100 people in attendance at this event which saw vegan animal rights activists rubbing elbows with cowboys.
  • Eastern Washington Trip In May 2011, we spent a busy couple of days learning how agriculture is done on the other side of the mountains.  When it was all said and done we had visited a hay and potato grower, a plant breeder, a 6,000 cow dairy and the largest beef cattle feedlot in all of Washington (~50,000 head!).  Our gracious host for all of this was WSU-Forage Extension Specialist Dr. Steve Fransen.  We can’t thank Dr, Fransen enough for organizing this event and being the most knowledgeable and accommodating guide anyone could wish for!
  • Wonderful Wool Working Workshop For a decade now the Evergreen State College has hosted its annual Synergy Conference to discuss issues surrounding sustainable living.  For the past several, ESSAA has sponsored local fiber artist DeAnna Dailey as she walks students through the processes involved in sorting, cleaning, carding, and spinning wool from our flock’s of sheep. Students get an opportunity to make their own drop spindles, use drum carders, and operate a spinning wheel.

As you can see, your purchase of ESSAA lamb supports so much more than meets the eye. It allows us to deepen and expand our educational aspirations and create forums for others to join with us in these endeavors, and for this, we cannot thank you enough.

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