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Local meat farmers working together to get through pandemic

Farmers are joining forces at farmers markets by sharing tents so they will all have enough supply.

BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. — Local farmers here in the Midlands are working together to make sure everyone is taken care of and can get through the coronavirus pandemic.

With rumors of there being a meat shortage on the way, grocery stores have been limiting the amount of meat customers can buy.

People are now wondering where they'll be able to find the meat they're looking for.

One of the places you can turn to are local farms here in the Midlands.

Amanda Jones owns and operates Doko Farm in Blythewood.

"We raise pasture-raised heritage meats. Pork, lamb, chicken, and turkey are on pasture," said Amanda.

Doko Farm has been in the family for the past five generations and since the mid-1800's.

What heritage breeds mean is that they are an older breed that's better suited for being on a pasture. Most of the breeds are from before the Industrial Revolution.

The breeds also take about twice as long to grow than industrial breeds.

"Something that's great about the longer grow time, I mean I know it means we have to wait a little bit longer and be a little bit more patient to get the product back, but that longer grow time in addition to growing those healthy bones and organs, it's also developing flavor," explained Amanda.

Jones says the other positive with raising heritage breeds is the diversity it brings to meat people can buy at the grocery store.

Doko Farm says they plan their herds and their flocks out a year or two in advance because of how long it takes for the animals to grow.

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With recent rumors of a possible meat shortage, many grocery stores are limiting the amount of meet people can purchase.

"Things we have been doing this year since the pandemic hit, we have been reaching out more to our community members in the farmers markets," said Amanda. "April saw our largest increase in customer sourcing local pasteurized heritage meats directly from Doko Farm in the past decade that we have been open."

To meet the need of increasing their production, they've added additional chicken hatches. Some chickens are in the incubator, some of the young ones are on pastures and they've kept back extra breeding stock.

Doko Farm is expecting to have a good supply of chicken from late summer into autumn.

Amanda says they've also cut back on their livestock sales to other farms.

"We've teamed up with other local farms such as Crazy Chick Heritage Farm in Ridgeway. At the Blythewood market, we share our tents so people only have to stop at one booth to find all their local meats," explained Amanda.

The farmers believe with the two farms coming together, it should help them both have enough supply to make it through the season.

"No one's small farm can feed the entire community on their own. It's going to take a network of small farms to do that," said Amanda.

Doko Farm has been building relationships with other farmers for several years but they say the tight-knit community has come together to give each other a helping hand. Even if the farm doesn't have what someone is looking for, Doko Farm will lead people to other local farmers who may have what they are looking for.

The farm has been going to the Pinehurst Farmers Market to help serve the community.

April Jones helps run the market that happens every Wednesday at 1:30 on School House Road.

"Our urban city communities, there's a huge need for fresh, organic, local food. A lot of our communities, especially in Pinehurst, we've lost a lot of our grocery stores. I felt that I could fill that need and help my community to have fresh foods and vegetables that are local and I can support my local economy as well."

They started the farmers market about a year ago and the turnout is growing every week.

They've also made several changes to help with safety while the pandemic continues.

April believes it's important to support local farmers, especially during this time.

"I think it's crucial. I think we are in a time of change in our community and it's about relationships, it's about supporting each other and this is the best way to do it."

April went on to say, "That money circulates in our economy much longer than if you went to some chain or corporate and you're supporting local families."

You can see what Doko Farms has to offer by clicking here.

RELATED: Local farmers changing the way they operate due to coronavirus

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