Ep 139. Evan McCommon on Switching from Forestry to Farming

How much history has your family farm built?


Today I’m speaking with Evan McCommon of Mahaffey Farms, a very long-running, historical family farm located in Haughton, Louisiana. By combining traditional agricultural practices with modern marketing, including farm-to-table dinners, a farm store, and a bed-and-breakfast, Evan and his family are introducing a new generation to fresh seasonal foods. Mahaffey takes a holistic approach to everything they do. The main principles they operate under are 1) regenerative landscapes, 2) resilient community and 3) valuable nourishment. Join us to hear how Mahaffey Farms thrives while adhering to these principles!

In This Episode:

What Evan did before farming 1:13

About the cycle for timber management 3:11

What types of pigs Mahaffey Farms raises 5:17

How the processing is done for larger animals 11:39

What the transition from forest to pasture is like 14L07

What channels Mahaffey Farms sells through 17:52

How Evan manages the growth of the business 22:12

About the main obstacles of running their pork and beef facility 29:51

About Mahaffey Farms’ marketing efforts 32.25

The major things Evan’s learned throughout his farming journey 35:13

What Evan believes the future holds for Mahaffey Farms  40:57

About the Guest:

Evan started managing his family’s land and timber resources at a young age in 1995. During that same time he also had a 15 year career in product design/engineering. His first job was for a chainsaw/weed-eater manufacturing company and later for a commercial cooking equipment company designing equipment for large fast food chains.

After 15 years of sitting in a cubicle under fluorescent lights, and only spending time on the farm during weekends, he decided to go out on his own and pursue a career in selling real estate.  This was in 2006 during the real estate boom and when the 2008 market crash happened, he realized what he really wanted to do was work on the land to make a living and live a more purposeful life…only working for money/commissions just wasn’t rewarding.

During his time in real estate he developed an interest in healthy eating and clean food. Realizing there were almost zero local farms working on organic or sustainable food production, he saw an opportunity to bring back the family farm! Having all the acres in timber production he started taking little pieces and developing small market gardens and selling “organic” vegetables. It didn’t take Evan long to realize the sandy soils on the family farm just were not very productive for vegetables. Reading Joel Salatin’s books showed him that pastured livestock would be a better direction to convert forests into pastures and really build some soil. In fall of 2012, Mahaffey Farms got the first pigs on pasture and by the end of 2013, the farm had cattle and broilers on pasture!

Thanks to the love and support of the community and the warm welcome of these high quality foods on the local market, Mahaffey Farms has been growing at a rapid pace to meet the demand! There have been setbacks and challenges but overall the farm has grown every year.  Mahaffey Farms is now (according to state inspectors) the largest producer of pastured pork and chicken in the state of Louisiana with on-farm processing for chicken, and in 2020, purchasing its own beef and pork processing plant.

Resources and mentions

Website – https://cultivate318.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mahaffeyfarms/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mahaffeyfarms/

And if you want to keep the conversation going, join us in our Facebook Group to connect with us and other farmers looking to grow their business!

We also have six free eguides to help you be more effective on your farm (Winter Growing, Pastured Poultry, Washing Shed Efficiency, Profitable Farmers Toolkit, What to Look for in a Farm Property, etc), which you can download here.