For Chris and Sandy Yokeley, it's all about community. Whether it's the fellow farmers, friends, and mentors that have helped guide and teach them or the families and triad residents who have supported them by buying their beef, they are certain of one thing - they couldn't do it without their community.
Take the short 30 minute drive from downtown Greensboro or the quick 15 minute drive from the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market and as you pull into Yokeley Farms you will be greeted by a pasture full of beautiful Red Angus and Shorthorn cattle relaxing and enjoying a good life on a 16-acre piece of land in Wallburg. The unexpected journey for Yokeley Farms began 12 years ago when Chris and Sandy were asked to take care of Chris's father's cows for a long weekend. They were hooked. Soon after, they bought their own Red Angus and moved to the land and started to work on turning the farm into their business.
From the instant that you meet Chris and Sandy it becomes clear that they put a lot of heart and passion into their farm.
They grow the corn and make the hay to feed their cattle and pride themselves on being sustainable and transparent about how the cows are fed, raised, treated, and finished. Yokeley Farms is a beautiful example of sustainability at its finest, even incorporating spent grain from Kernersville Brewing Company in the feed for their cattle.
Owning and maintaining a small business like Yokeley Farms is a full time commitment. Between maintaining the property, growing and harvesting food for the cattle, navigating unpredictable North Carolina drought patterns, and not to mention caring for their herd, Chris and Sandy have not had a vacation or any time off since they started their business in 2004. Sandy and Chris echo a sentiment that small businesses owners are often found saying, "we didn’t get into this to get rich, we did it because it's something that we truly love."
For the past five years, customers have been able to stop by and purchase their favorite cuts of beef directly from the Yokeley's. Like so many small businesses, Yokeley Farms relies heavily on word of mouth and referrals from their customers to continue to grow. With both excitement and relief, Chris and Sandy have seen a steady increase in sales and have recently begun to supply a couple of Triad restaurants with their locally raised beef.
What is driving the increase in interest for locally and ethically raised beef like theirs? Perhaps it’s the comfort of knowing and seeing exactly where, how, and who raised the cattle. Or maybe it’s the opportunity to visit the actual farm and know the farmers by name. It could even be the desire to support members of our own community in a meaningful way. As shoppers increasingly seek a "one stop shop", Chris and Sandy believe in the tradition of shopping from stores that are run by your neighbors - even if it means making an extra stop or two.
Yokeley Farms is recognizing a shift in the mindset of consumers. Locally raised beef is "not just something special, this is something that you can have at every meal," says Sandy. Transparency in their process and treatment of their animals, coupled with prices competitive with local grocers, has allowed Yokeley Farms to serve a growing segment of consumers interested in locally sourced and sustainably produced foods.
The next time that you are planning on adding beef to your weekly shopping list, consider making the short drive to Yokeley Farms in Wallburg, where "calm and happy cows do make a difference" in the quality and flavor of the meat. Chris and Sandy are excited to welcome you into their community.
How you can support Yokeley Farms or learn more:
Visit the farm to purchase beef, see the cows, or meet Chris and Sandy at 1111 Harvey Teague Road, Winston-Salem