Sustainability and Why it Matters
Perdido River Farms
by Jamie Sawyer
March 14, 2023
In 1992, the Poarch Creek Indians set aside 2,900 acres of agricultural land on our reservation to start a cattle farm. Using time-honored principals of Tribal land management, we created a sustainable, integrated farm that produces the feed crops for a growing herd of beef cattle. Today, Perdido River Farms is one of the largest cattle operations in the state of Alabama.
As a sovereign nation, the Poarch Creek Indians have our own Natural Resources Conservation Service just like the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Conservation of Tribal lands through soil testing, proper fertilization, and rotational grazing produces good quality grazing forage and hay. The farm includes 650 acres planted with summer and winter crops for cattle grazing and 450 acres of hay ground.
Perdido River Farms has been recognized by the Alabama Cattleman’s Association with the Environmental Stewardship Award for our approach to land management and conservation. We share best practices with the USDA, state agencies and other cattle farms to continuously improve operations and bolster sustainability. The farm’s breeding practices over its 30-year history have also distinguished Perdido River Farms as a producer of the highest quality beef.
As part of our sustainability efforts, Perdido River Farms is dedicated to passing on our Tribal approach to agricultural management to future generations. We host 4-H and FFA events, such as the Escambia County 4-H Steer & Heifer Show and the Alabama South District FFA Fall Eliminations. Poarch Creek also has a Tribal youth program to educate young Tribal members about agriculture and provide a career path for the next generation.
As a Tribe, we honor our heritage as Alabama’s first people. We respect Mother Earth and our native lands. We also see ourselves as good Alabama neighbors, helping our fellow farmers and cattlemen grow this industry in the state. In fact, by the end of 2023, we plan to complete construction on new meat processing facility to provide us and other farmers the opportunity to process locally-raised beef and pork right here in Alabama. This will elevate the quality and freshness of Alabama-raised cattle while also making it more cost-effective. It will also allow us and our neighboring farmers to sell farm-to-table offerings that are increasingly in demand.
We’re happy to partner with Sweet Grown Alabama and appreciate their efforts to connect Alabama farmers like us with new retail and consumer opportunities. To learn more about us, visit us online at https://pci-nsn.gov/services/perdido-river-farms/ or drop by the Poarch Creek Reservation next time you pass our way on I-65. We’d love to see you.