Founded by the Tillman-Brown Family in June of 2011, Firefly Farms is a 135-acre farm in North Stonington, Connecticut. The family is committed to raising heritage chickens, pigs and cattle in a natural and humane environment.
Firefly Farms has grown from an original herd of five piglets to a diverse number of hogs – Mulefoots, a Red Wattle, Guinea Hogs, and Tri-Heritage. They have a growing herd of Randall Lineback cattle and a flock of Dorking chickens. Each of their breeds is either critically endangered or threatened according to The Livestock Conservancy. None of their breeds numbers more than 1,000 in the world.
“It may seem to be a conflict that we raise these rare animals for meat, but the reason that they’re endangered is that they lost popularity in favor of other breeds when factory farming became prevalent,” said Allena Tillman-Brown. “To bring them back from endangered, we need to give them renewed purpose and raise them for their original intent, food. This makes every animal we raise precious and critical to the overall survival of the breed.”
Firefly Farm animals are all pasture or forest raised. In addition to their supplemented diets, they are allowed to forage for food and are kept in environments natural to their species.
“Our pigs live in large groups in the woods, foraging, sleeping in piles, and enjoying the very essence of being a pig,” said Allena. “Our piglets stay with their mothers until they are naturally weaned, as do our calves. Our cows have a variety of pastures to suit their needs and the chickens have chicken tractors (movable chicken coops without floors) that are moved twice daily to give them access to fresh grass. Except for protective fences, our animals get to live as their ancestors did.”
Firefly Farms also uses rotational grazing, which keeps the animals moving so no one area is negatively impacted by their presence and the animals always benefit from having fresh grazing land to explore.
“A certified forester who specializes in woodland restoration showed us where to create new pasture and how to improve the overall health of the existing forest,” said Allena. “Our pigs have done a wonderful job removing scrub brush and invasive species so native flora and fauna can return. They love to be turned out on new pasture with all the joys of finding new areas to root and wallow.”
Firefly Farms first learned about Certified Humane® from Craig Floyd of Footstep Farm, the first Certified Humane® farm in Connecticut. Dugan Tillman-Brown, Firefly’s farm manager, realized he had already been naturally implementing many of Certified Humane® standards to provide the farm’s animals a stress-free environment.
“It seemed like a natural next step to become Certified Humane®,” said Dugan. “Humane Farm Animal Care’s goals and our goals are one and the same.”
As of January 2015, all four family members work for Firefly Farms in various capacities. Van Brown handles the bookkeeping and correspondences, Beth Tillman works with Dugan Tillman-Brown on Firefly Farms; and Allena Tillman-Brown handles marketing and events.
All of them, however, have been boar wranglers, mother hens to various babies, and educators for people interested in learning about how to operate a family farm that keeps the health and well-being of the animals as their number one priority.
“Just because these animals are raised for food, doesn’t mean we do not love them, care for them, and play with them,” said Allena. “We are with them at birth and walk alongside them to the end. Our mission is to make sure each animal has quality of life here.”
To learn more, visit www.fireflyfarmsllc.com.