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Tenth-Generation South Carolina Farm Family Raise Organic Livestock

Paxton Pegues and his sixteen-year old daughter, Rachel, lay out temporary fencing to facilitate their rotational grazing plan. This plan allows vegetation in previously grazed pastures to regenerate, encourages an even distribution of grazing throughout the field and allows rest periods in between rotations to  improve the health of the grass.

Paxton Pegues and his sixteen-year old daughter, Rachel, lay out temporary fencing to facilitate their rotational grazing plan. This plan allows vegetation in previously grazed pastures to regenerate, encourages an even distribution of grazing throughout the field and allows rest periods in between rotations to improve the health of the grass.

On a spring day in Chesterfield, South Carolina, a family works in unison to manage cattle, sheep and goats. This is a daily routine and a way of life for Paxton Pegues, his wife Olivia, and their four children Rachel, Marcellus, Spencer, and Lanier.

A tenth-generation farm family that has deep roots in the county, the Pegues are proud of the 319-acre area they call the Carolina Nature Conservancy. They are dedicated to improving wildlife habitat, controlling invasive species and establishing native grasses, and to managing their land without the use of commercial fertilizers, chemicals or parasite control agents.

The Pegues’ goal is to return this land to its original state, when open grasslands and sparsely wooded areas were grazed by animals. They work closely with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to implement conservation practices that will help them achieve this goal.

left to right: Rachel, Olivia, Marcellus and Paxton Pegues own and operate an organic livestock operation in Chesterfield, SC, and are protecting and improving their resources with the help of NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

left to right: Rachel, Olivia, Marcellus and Paxton Pegues own and operate an organic livestock operation in Chesterfield, SC, and are protecting and improving their resources with the help of NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

The family’s exemplary stewardship efforts were recently recognized when they were named the 2010 Farmers of the Year by the Chesterfield Soil and Water Conservation District.

Through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative, these dedicated conservationists have implemented organic nutrient and pest management plans, installed a well and water tanks, and developed a grazing plan. In addition, they have installed over 3,000 feet of permanent fence to exclude livestock from a stream and wetland area adjacent to their pasture, protecting water quality.

Their unique rotational grazing system utilizes temporary fencing and roughly 4,000 feet of permanent water line with quick-valve connections that allow the use of three portable water tanks. Future goals involve installing a solar pumping station to harness the sun’s energy to provide water for the livestock on another portion of the property.

Through NRCS’ Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Pegues also monitor key grazing areas and adjust their livestock management appropriately. They limit the amount of fertilizer and feed brought onto the farm, rotate supplemental mineral and feeding areas, and limit livestock access to surface water sources—all of which further protect water quality. Silvopasture is another practice that the family hopes to integrate into their operation through CSP, which will allow them to manage timber and pasture as a single integrated system.

NRCS District Conservationist Charles Babb works closely with the family on their farm. “This family truly loves what they do, and they have taught us a lot about organic methods and techniques,” said Babb.

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Paxton Pegues owns and manages a 319-acre area he named the Carolina Nature Conservancy and he says he was inspired to do so because of his mother’s strong conservation ethic, which she passed on to him.

Paxton Pegues manages a 319-acre area named the Carolina Nature Conservancy and says he was inspired to do so because of his mother’s strong conservation ethic which she passed on to him.

3 Responses to “Tenth-Generation South Carolina Farm Family Raise Organic Livestock”

  1. Lanier Pegues says:

    I want to thank Ms. Maxwell for writing such a great article, and the USDA for approving the post, also congrats to my family who operate the farm. By continuing to work with the land, instead of against it, we can not only provide a healthy product to the people and help the environment, but also support your local economy.

  2. Ethel Wynn says:

    It is good to read of others so close to home doing good for the environment and encouraging farming as more than a profession. I live in Chesterfield and this was such a positive story for our community, I felt obligated to share it with other friends and family. Thank you Pegues Family for supporting our area in ways many will never know, but our children will see for many years to come. And, congratulations on your Farmer of the Year for Chesterfield County. Chesterfield County is supported by many farmers and this is a big accomplishment.

  3. Pamela Kemp says:

    Thank you for sharing this very encouraging story. Kudos to the Pegues.

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