Westminster, Colorado-based Niman Ranch, a natural meat brand renowned for its humanely raised products, has recognized the Gilbralter Farms, operated by the Gilbert family of Iowa Falls, Iowa, as its 2021 Sustainable Farm of the Year.
This accolade honors the Gilberts for their continual pursuit of conserving land, waterways and biodiversity as well as for their efforts to support and encourage independent, diversified farms.
Involved in the farm are John and Beverly Gilbert; their son John and his wife Sarah; brother Greg and his wife Barb; and daughter Kate. The Gilberts raise antibiotic-free, pasture-farrowed pigs, milk Brown Swiss dairy cattle and grow an array of crops and forage on the farm, which was established in 1899. The family uses various sustainable farming practices including crop rotation, no- and ridge-till, riparian buffers, rotational grazing, conservation land and terracing.
The family farm sits along Southfork, a tributary of the Iowa River, and family members strive to ensure their farm has positive benefits for water quality through their regenerative practices.
Much of what originally inspired the Gilberts to farm sustainably today grew from their experience during the farm crisis of the ‘80s and ‘90s. The crisis led them to embrace the importance of adapting and being flexible, the value of a diversified farm and the benefits of returning animals to the land.
The Gilberts stress the importance of having livestock as an essential component to a sustainable future both for the farmland and the family.
John and Beverly Gilbert have a profound message: “Farming – properly structured and informed – has the potential to mediate climate change, rebuild rural America, address nutritional injustice and help with income inequality and general divisiveness. Farming gives meaning and structure to our lives and provide a means for family members to contribute to a common effort.”
John Gilbert said he believes that farming has a continued, prominent role to play in American daily life for the economic well-being and health of both the land and its people.
“Niman Ranch is rooted in the belief and the faith that when farmers are treated equitably, and are paid fairly, they will have the resources to build a business that the next generation will want to continue,” he said. “They will have the resources to take care of the land, the water, their neighbors, their local communities and can help rebuild rural economies.”
“It’s very humbling and a great honor to have a trusted partner like Niman Ranch recognize what we do,” he said.
On behalf of the Gilberts, Niman Ranch donated to the Southfork Watershed Alliance in celebration of this award. The Alliance used the gift to purchase a ground-water flow model that was donated to the Hardin County Conservation’s Calkins Nature Center for their youth education programming on water quality.
Niman Ranch is a community of more than 750 independent family farmers and ranchers who raise pork, beef and lamb traditionally, humanely and sustainably. It is the largest farmer and rancher network in North America to be Certified Humane.