Tour De Farm Tour: Cognito Farm

The following guest post was written by one of our own volunteers, Johanna Vogt. Read on for Johanna's bio. As someone who once experienced the calm of living in the countryside, I cannot stress enough what a pleasure it was to take a short trip away from Southside Jacksonville and get back to wide-open spaces. My husband and I took the scenic route down FL-21 S/ FL-16 W and ended up on the lovely, untamed haven that is Cognito Farm. There is a pride in the land that perhaps only a farmer can recognize, but one that extends from a man who is completely unreserved—who is enthusiastic about his work and eager to share what he knows with the public.

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David Griffis did not intend to be a farmer, though he grew up in his family raising hogs. A U.S. Army veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he came home to take over the family business when his brother fell ill. He was kind enough to show us around all aspects of the property; for the Tour de Farm, however, he will be grouping the animals together in order to discuss everything while using his time effectively so that visitors may return to the rest of the tour promptly.

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Cognito Farm is an excellent example of sustainable farming. All the animals are raised on pasture and graze rotationally, utilizing only 80 acres of the 194-acre farm. They all appear relaxed and bright, and any feed that is supplemented is specifically of a non-genetically modified blend. Various wastes collected from day-to-day operations are used for compost and/or fertilizer.

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I admired the regard with which David spoke of each group of animals as we toured the property. It would be simple enough for him to comment on the personality of his long-term brooding pigs, but he could even explain the curious yet timid nature of his young steers. The hogs couldn’t possibly look any more content lazing about in the mud, surrounded by woods.

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There is something special about knowing the animals we harvest are held not only to the minimum standards of wellness and safety, but handled with respect and compassion. Such level of care somehow translates over into the food we eat, whether we simply recognize a high quality food product, or we actively participate in the mindful awareness of appreciating a product that was raised in the absence of harm.

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During the Tour de Farm, you can expect to see how David and his family raise broiler hens, laying hens, beef cattle, and hogs. As a particular treat for November, they will also have young turkeys available in time for Thanksgiving. If you’re looking for a classic farm experience where you can bring your little ones to learn about raising livestock on pasture, do not miss the opportunity to visit Cognito Farm in Starke!

You can also catch David at the Beaches Green Market every Saturday; Riverside Arts Market on the first and third Saturdays of the month; Old City Farmers Market in St. Augustine on the second, fourth, and fifth Saturdays; and the Union Street Farmers Market every Wednesday in Downtown Gainesville.

For more information, you can visit them online at www.cognitofarm.com or on Facebook.

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About Johanna:

Johanna recently discovered Slow Food First Coast in a discussion about various food movements while studying nutrition and dietetics at the University of North Florida. Prior to moving to Jacksonville, she earned a Bachelors degree in Animal Science from the University of Florida.

After working for 15 years in the animal health industry, Johanna remains passionate about sustainable agriculture, including the fair and humane treatment of all livestock. Slow Food was therefore a perfect match for her to get involved with the local community and connect people with the food they eat! Johanna aspires to become a registered dietitian/nutritionist, with a keen interest in diabetes education and integrative and functional medical nutrition therapy.