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Editor's note: This is the first in a series of posts in which you'll hear directly from the farmers we work with in the field. In the lead up to World Food Day on October 16, and lasting throughout the month of October, Heifer farmers will shed light on why family farming matters. During 2014, the International Year of Family Farming, it's imperative that these stories are heard and shared.

This post originally appeared in the Perspectives series, an annual collection of essays that dig deeper into the World Food Day theme. The series is coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Food entrepreneur and small farmer Ann Rose, a former nurse who swapped her hospital job for a different path to healing, now stands tall atop her farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Living virtually off the grid, Ann grows healthy food, teaches others how to farm sustainably, and runs her own Butcher shop in Lansing, North Carolina. Through her butcher shop and because of the support of Heifer International, she is on her way to reviving the food system of her community.

Approximately one in four people in the Arkansas Delta, and one in three children in Appalachia suffer from food insecurity. Ann is just one example of how Heifer’s work in both these areas—through the extraordinary potential of entrepreneurship and real value of locally produced food—is turning small farms into big movements.  

Ann Rose, American Farmer

Check back here frequently for more farmers telling their stories in their own words. You'll hear from women in Nepal, men in Guatemala, a farmer in west Arkansas, and a group of women in India, along with many others from the Philippines to Appalachia.

Get involved on social media, too. Want to thank a farmer for what they're doing to feed the growing population? Use the hashtags #ToastAFarmer and #WFD2014. 


Jessica Ford

Jessica Ford serves as the Global Communications Manager for Heifer International at its headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas. Ford joined Heifer in 2007 and soon transitioned into the executive office as Manager of Operations and Assistant to the COO. In 2012, she was relocated to Heifer's country office in Peru, as part of Heifer's first leadership development program giving her the unique opportunity to dive head first into Heifer's work "in the field" for a year. Now she is in Arkansas with her family where she loves watching her son play baseball, reading, rowing crew and drinking Dr Pepper.